Vintage League Music – 2017
13 tracks; 51 minutes
Although Crowd Company is a British band their sound is wholly American, deeply rooted in funk and soul, this album was even recorded in the States at Iron Wax Studio, MA. Stone & Sky is the band’s second album and features an all-original program written by combinations of guitarist/vocalist Robert Fleming, vocalists Esther Dee and Joanne Marshall, keyboardist Claudio Corona and sax player Chris Rand; the other members of the eight piece band are trumpeter Henry Spencer, bassist Emil Engström and drummer Robin Lowery. In addition Brian Thomas added trombone to three tracks and producer Alan Evans percussion and B/V’s to two cuts.
There is little or no blues content here but if funk and soul are of interest to you there is plenty to enjoy. Opener “Take Off The Crown” has the sort of wah-wah guitar that always reminds you of Shaft, clavinet and horns providing accents to the music, we are very much in funk mode. “Saw You Yesterday” has Robert on vocals and it’s also funky but with more emphasis on melody, the chorus boosted by choral B/V’s and the horns right up front pushing the tune along before “Can’t Get Enough” brings the other female singer* to the mike for a soulful ballad with great horns, probably the strongest song here. That funky guitar/clavinet sound is back for “Soar” and “Fever”, the latter bearing a slight resemblance in terms of its lyrics to the song made famous by Peggy Lee. “Away With You” has Robert leading, the girls on the choruses, a flowing tune with lots of swirling organ and sax and trumpet solo opportunities and “Let Me Be” has rather excited vocals about “the goddess and the honey bee”. “Getting The Groove” is a short track with heavy funk bass and “Fast Forward” has plenty of funk but is rather repetitive for this reviewer. “Summer” is another song with more emphasis on melody and a fine sax solo well framed by the horn arrangement before “The Spark” closes the album proper with the longest cut with space to feature the horns and keys to good effect. The final two cuts are dubbed ‘bonus tracks’, presumably because both are instrumentals: “Blind Pig” is sax player Chris’ tune and is a good, upbeat piece with some great horns; “Station 77” is keyboard man Claudio’s tune and is more repetitive.
So, no blues present here but lots of funky music, sure to get people dancing when this disc is played. Not a disc for this reviewer’s tastes but it is sure to appeal to others.
*the disc does not indicate which of Esther and Joanne sings which songs