Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Soul Rebels Brass Band - Unlock Your Mind

Up on the floor for some good times, it's party time New Orleans style.

“I've been searching for the young soul rebels, I can't find them anywhere, where have you hidden them?” That was the impassioned question posed by Kevin Rowland on the first Dexy's Midnight Runners album Searching For The Young Soul Rebels. Well Kevin, it would appear that they're alive and well and have been honing their craft in a New Orleans brass band for the best part of twenty years. Brass bands of course being a completely different thing in America. 

Over here the associations are Hovis bread, coal-mining, ice creams and deck chairs in municipal parks on a Sunday afternoon. In America, or more specifically New Orleans, brass bands developed through the jazz tradition, the emphasis being more about dance rhythms and partying. And like a well cooked Louisiana gumbo, on this release there are a few other ingredients thrown into the mix, such as soul, rap, funk, and the quintessentially New Orleans tradition of second line and jazz funerals.

Several albums into their career The Soul Rebels Brass Band unleash their latest entitled Unlock Your Mind. Knowingly or not it's very title references the Funkadelic maxim of “free your mind and your ass will follow” meaning this is not a record to be taken sitting down. Resolutely upbeat in mood, the album comprises for the most part of original tracks though there are a couple of fine covers; an inspired version of Eurhythmics' “Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This”, and an instrumental interpretation of Stevie Wonder's “Living In The City”.

Album opener “504” is a reference to the New Orleans telephone area code, which was on its way to becoming obsolete but was reinstated in several communities post hurricane Katrina. Urging the listener to “get up on the floor and enjoy yourself”. The party vibe continues throughout, most notably on the rap driven tracks “We Gon' Take Your Body” and “Showtime”.

The title track is a gently comforting soul/reggae groove complete with a pleading soul vocal which sits nicely at odds with the faster pace of the rest of the album. The band recently toured the UK and judging by the YouTube footage it looks as if the stage is where they truly shine.

New Orleans has taken a physical and psychological battering in recent times as a result of hurricanes and the global economic downturn but judging by this album optimism and fun are still high up on the agenda way down south.

Click here for The Soul Rebels Brass Band website.