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The Budos Band - Self Titled LP
One of the pillars of the Daptone label alongside Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and the Sugarman 3, the Budos Band blend soul and funk and twist it with African music scales, particularly with their horn arrangements. Their self-titled LP showcases a band comfortable playing at nearly any speed, often with a brooding sensibility. "Budos Theme" expresses their sound with a high-octane sense of urgency. Prevalent are those aforementioned horns swirling in tornadic fashion, but the track also gets a dose of extra personality from drummer Brian Profilio's ecstatic rhythms. Far from conventional, the beat dances in unison with the bass guitar, played by Daniel Foder, creating a jittery backbeat. The follow-up track, "Ghost Walk," is itself an embodiment of righteous instrumental soul that slows down to a deliberate tempo. The jam starts with a crunchy drum break before being paced by an exemplary and hypnotic Tommy "TNT" Brenneck guitar performance. Fueling the groove are some accompanying extended organ chords and a two-bar conga solo that breaks through momentarily. the Budos Band even throw in a worthy cover of Sly & the Family Stone's classic "Sing a Simple Song." Although it lacks the pop of the original, in part because Cynthia Robinson isn't adding her fiery shouts, it's still a monster arrangement. Unrecognizable as a cover for the first 20 seconds, the guitar lick finally gives it away. For the first 80 seconds, the band plays it close to the vest before building up the suspense and then climaxing at the 1:45 mark. It's not the party starter as performed by Sly & the Family Stone, but it's a perfect example of paying reverence to a classic jam while still adding some original finesse. During a time when the neo-soul craze in urban music was waning, another movement of soul revivalism was starting to gain serious footing. For an instrumental band in the 2000s to be such a musical force in instituting a change in the guard -- even if only in a subset of the genre -- is a testament to the bandmembers' musical abilities in playing, writing, arranging, and performing. The album is a commendable piece of artistry not to be overlooked.