My Funky (In)Disposition´╗┐

The LF soul music blog run by music-mad Imran Mirza, in conjunction
with his Starpoint Radio show, 'The Blue-in-Green Sessions'.


'Season's Greetings' by Olympic Cyclone Band [album review]

Written by Imran Mirza

Determined to leave as much of a mark on 2012 as possible, Jalapeno Records - following their excellent remix compilation by Smoove (of Smoove & Turrell) - sign the year off with The Olympic Cyclone Band's 'Season's Greetings': a Christmas album performed with a decidedly funky spin on festive classics.

Potentially a thematic style of release reserved for heavy sales hitters, Justin Bieber, Michael Buble, Beyonce, etc, but thinking about it - James Brown's catalogue bursts of Christmas-themed releases, including his three albums for King Records, 'Christmas Songs', 'A Soulful Christmas' and 'Hey America'.  So bearing that in mind... why not?

The Olympic Cyclone Band are certainly a band whose experience lends itself to making a record like this a success - their musical proficiency having been honed from years of playing as a hugely in-demand lounge band bring to new life such Yuletide favourites including 'Away in a Manger', 'Hark The Herald Angels Sing' and 'Jingle Bells'. 

What's instantly noticable is the fact that these interpretations don't sound like Christmas songs - they sound like funk and soul songs that just happen to be about Christmas, which is a nice touch as they lend themselves more to songs that don't require a specific calendar month to be played (having said that, when listening to 'Hark The Herald Angels Sing', it would be pretty hard to think of much else other than 'Hark The Herald Angels Sing'!).  The album's guest vocalists, including Stephanie Davies and Fiona Egan, also take this approach on board, and when you hear Stephanie Davies sing '12 Days of Christmas', with that voice and that backdrop, it's performed with all the fiery sass of a woman laying down the law!

'Season's Greetings' marks the perfect stocking filler and soundtrack for this year's Christmas, so friends, make it a funky one!



What's new?

I really don’t think that I pay enough attention to contemporary R&B.  Most of my focus tends to go on my funk, jazz, soul music reissues, older artists’ back catalogues,  contemporary soul artists, the eternal hunt for the obscure, etc. but R&B gets, perhaps unfairly, discriminated against with the wave of dance/David Guetta-inspired production style, currently being embraced by mainstream acts including Ne-Yo, Chris Brown, Rihanna, Usher, etc. 

Not that either of the aforementioned names are necessarily artists I’m likely to have checked for, but it just becomes a bit of a turn-off when it appears that this is the direction that the genre as a whole is moving towards.  Who am I to complain though?  Did you see the list of other music I have still to check for?  I’ve definitely got enough to keep me busy.

Having said that, some random late-night channel hopping (no this isn’t going where it may seem it is), resulted in me stumbling across a Top 10 countdown on BET of their R&B chart and discovering a couple of nice tracks. 

This brand new one from John Legend, taken from the movie soundtrack for the film, ‘Think Like A Man’, I’ll admit, is a bit cheesy (particularly with lyrics like: ‘Come on, let me kiss that;  Ooh, I know you miss that;  What's wrong, let me fix that;  Twist that’), but I can’t help but absolutely LOVE it.  I’ve never really been one to jump on the John Legend bandwagon – he’s immensely talented and a credit to the genre, it’s just that his music doesn’t specifically grab me, although he does have some undeniably great songs amongst his catalogue.   Anyway, it’s this one that I’m really digging right now.  

Another name that’s certainly not been an under-the-radar artist is Miguel, whose new album, ‘Kaleidoscope Dream’ houses his current single ‘Adorn’.  Again, a fantastic song that I kinda sorta fell a little head-over-heels for as soon as I heard it. I first heard of him from his debut album and again unfairly relegated him to standard R&B fair, but ‘Adorn’ has definitely grabbed my attention and the album’s new purchase is on the way.  Very much hoping more of the same as below… 


'El Loco' / 'Boogaloo Tormenta' by Mankoora

Written by Imran Mirza

In an incredible bid to drag as much of the summer’s warm glow and enthusiasm into the winter months, Hiperbole Records unleash their latest three-man weapon, in the form of Mankoora, and their debut double A-sided single, ‘El Loco’ and ‘Boogaloo Tormenta’.

Hiperbole Records, the German independent record label responsible for  such releases from Renegades of Jazz and Audiophysical, introduce Alexander ‘Newton’ Bednasch (bass and guitar), Loopez (piano and organ) and David Hanke on production (also known as Mr Renegades of Jazz, himself), add Mankoora to the roster.

Vibrant seems to fall very, very short by way of a description for the eclectic ‘El Loco’ and ‘Boogaloo Tormenta’ numbers.  Take the most vivacious and energetic Latin rhythm you can think of, and inject it with a significant dose of a caffeine and sugar cocktail and you kinda get the picture – make no mistake, this music charges at you at 100MPH and should come with a parental advisory sticker warning listeners ‘For professional boogiers only!’.

It’s heavy on its horns, it’s heavy on its organ, its heavy on its breakbeats and it just oozes rhythm.  Mankoora will definitely be one to watch and here’s hoping this one picks up enough of a head of steam to warrant an eventual full length album release!



Happy Birthday...

So, here was the Birthday playlist for The Blue-in-Green Sessions, aired 16th September 2012.  If you've never tuned in before, hopefully something below will entice you to give us a try.  We're live every Sunday morning, 8-10am on Starpoint Radio, so look forward to the pleasure of your company!

'Send It On' - D'Angelo
'Don't Take My Shadow - Kings Go Forth
'Love You' - Maxwell
'Soon I'll Be Loving You Again' - Joe
'This Room' [live] - Fat Freddy's Drop
'Winter Wind' - Jose James
'Joyful Girl' - Soulive f/t Dave Matthews
'Poetry' - RH Factor f/t Erykah Badu & Q-Tip
'Midnight In Trieste' - The Five Corners Quintet
'Jazzy Joint' - J.A.M. f/t Jose James
'Hopeless Romantic' - Raheem DeVaughn
'Love and Revolution' - Nicola Conte f/t Melanie Charles
'I'm Ready' - Anthony Hamilton
'Your Name' - Reggie Watts
'Skyy, Can You Feel Me' - Raphael Saadiq f/t Rosie Kaye
'Pretty Man' [Extended Mix] - Prince
'Luv 4 The World' - Plantlife
'Soul Power' [live] - Soulive f/t Nigel Hall & Questlove
'Got To Getcha' - Maceo & All The King's Men
'Blind Man Can See It' - James Brown


Jose James 'It's All Over Your Body' EP

If you don’t know who Jose James is, then I honestly believe that’s something that’s about to change fairly early in 2013.  Actually, if you don’t know who Jose James is, then you clearly don’t visit this blog as much as you should :)

In anticipation of the release of his fourth album, which also acts as his debut on the prestigious Blue Note Records, an EP to whet your appetite has just been released.  Comprising of six new songs, 'It's All Over Your Body', offers huge promises that this album could very well be James’ breakthrough record and will serve to establish the continuing legacy of one of the brightest stars of his generation.  It’s a bold and fairly clichéd statement but not one I make lightly – I’ve been a frantic flag-waving supporter since ‘The Dreamer’ and I can’t think of an artist who displays more versatility and dedication, and one more deserving of the rewards than James.  Amongst the EP’s highlights are an acoustic version of ‘Come To My Door’ (performed with Emily King) and a DJ Spinna remix of 'It's All Over Your Body', which ranks among some of Spinna’s best… and that’s another bold statement I stand beside!

A quick update on the new album (currently titled, 'No Beginning No End') reports contributions from an A* list of musicians, featuring a line-up including Robert Glasper, Chris Dave, Pino Palladino, Hindi Zahra, Emily King and Amp Fiddler, naming just a few!

I’m beyond excited about it and will definitely be keeping you guys posted on this blog and will be playing anything I get my hands on on the Blue-in-Green Sessions as well.