Galactic – Already Ready Already
8 songs/24 minutes
Funk is a form of the Blues. There is no denying it. There are direct connections on both sides. The Blues side: Albert Collins, Junior Guitar Watson and Freddie King’s greased up Blues drip with the Funk. Even more convincingly, the Funk side: Funkadelic’s early albums all had slow Blues burners, James Brown (enough said), the Meters’ sturdy grooves lean Blue, Sly’s blissed out hippie explorations have deep Blue pockets. Even the modern Funk/Jazz explorations sparked by John Schofield and Medeski, Martin and Wood in the 90’s are undoubtedly Blues.
Galactic, the premier NOLA Funk/Jazz/Pop masters, have staked a sharp new Blues claim with their taught new release Already Ready Already. They expertly collaborate with exciting and creative singers and fully realize themselves as concise songsters bringing their expansive group songwriting/improvisation to a new level of perfectly focused pop-art. This clarity and focus creates modern-day Blues similar to how Chuck Berry wrangled the ornery abstractions of his country predecessors into a digestible tight package that was no less revolutionary and moving.
Galactic is Ben Ellman on saxophone and harmonica, Robert Mercurio on bass, Stanton Moore on drums, Jeffrey Raines on guitar and Richard Vogel on keyboards. Although each musician in this quintet is a master and often do their own excellent side projects, the magic happens when the 5 of them create together. A collaborative collective they share songwriting credits and their free spirited improvisations can be heard in full effect on their early albums such as Crazyhorse Mongoose, Late For the Future and Rukus. Galactic never let the endless jam drag on always utilizing great singers and always using New Orleans hit making sensibility. In 2007, in-part response to the deteriorating health of go-to singer Theryl DeClouet, these monsters started to branch out and evolve, including collaborations with rappers and singers and exploring all different flavors of music.
Already Ready Already is a distilled, highly potent shot of these musical journeys featuring collaborations with five different singer/songwriters. “Going Straight Crazy” featuring Princess Shaw with background vocals by Boyfriend is a loping lowdown throw-down come-on. “Clap Your Hands” featuring Miss Charm Taylor is a hyped up call to party. Delving into Emo-Electronica, “Everlasting Light” featuring David Shaw and Nahko is as brooding as it is infectious. Live performance muse and Tina-esq diva, Erica Falls offers the appropriately menacing “Touch Get Cut” (“touch get cut…back off her daddy leave the girl alone” ). And finally Boyfriend gets her feature on the stand-out “Dance At My Funeral” a breakneck look back at her own imagined NOLA second line memorial (“that ass better shake the pew”).
Galactic stretch their instrumental muscles throughout with support from trumpet ace Shamarr Allen (who is on tour with them) and trombonist Corey Henry. All the musical breaks, background horn charts, distinctive guitar and keyboard sounds and enveloping drums and samples create unique and highly original music. The one true instrumental on the record, “Goose Grease,” is a modern Meters work out, at times cool and grooving, at times urgent and spastic. Bookend intro and outro, “Already” and “Ready Already,” are diffuse and grooving at the same time and not only unify the album but pack so much exploration into a combined 3 minutes.
Your humble reviewer caught Galactic on their current tour in Boston. It was my first time seeing them and a revelation. Taking more time with the jams, as is appropriate in the live setting, the band featuring the indomitable Erica Falls kept the place bouncing all night. This is a band at the top of their powers producing grade-A highly creative inventive Funk. If the purpose of the Blues is to drive away trouble and offer consolation, Galactic fit the bill. Go and see this band and listen to this record over and over (it’s short), you won’t be sorry.