Review: Rob Lord
THE Herbaliser return with their first full album since 2002’s
Something Wicked This Way Comes. To understand The Herbaliser,
you need some perspective.
In ’95, when the first album, Remedies, was released
they mixed hip-hop, jazz and funk in live style that I had not
heard before. Listen back to that record and it’s as fresh
today as it was then. Copied over and over, it’s one of
few from that rubbishy named trip-hop era that stand the test
Now 10 years and five albums later we have Take London.
The Herbaliser duo of Jake Wherry and Ollie Teeba have honed and
matured their sound.
It still has its familiar roots in Remedies, but there’s
so much more depth here. Take London swings from loud,
brash and epic tracks such as Nah ‘m’ Sayin
and Generals, to the more recognizable cinematic cuts
such as Song For Mary, the almost funk disco of Gadget
Funk and the soulful Lord Lord.
It’s an album that swings one way and then the next. With
such a wide breadth of styles some artists may struggle on the
quality yet Take London suffers not. It’s the care
and attention that has clearly been lavished upon each and every
song that keeps the quality high.
Collaborations with the newly named Jean Grae [formally know
as What What, whom all Herbaliser aficionados will recognise]
and Roots Manuva provide the top class vocals.
Jean Grae manages to have her voice heard above the almost chaotic
Nah ‘m’ Sayin, which rolls and crashes around
her. Roots Manuva, on the other hand, can’t be ignored on
Lord Lord where his strong, laid back vocal glides perfectly
with the gentle beat.
Jean then comes back into her own on the almost R&B Twice
Around. I say almost R&B because of the lush chorus;
of course, the rest is pure Herbaliser - horns and lopping beat
and Jean’s sharp, tight vocal delivery.
Take London wouldn’t be a Herbaliser album without
obscure film samples and clips. They are there, in abundance,
from the intro to the interlude to the odd hidden sample within
I’m personally not sure these are needed anymore, like
I say, the Herbaliser sound has matured, it just seems they forgot
to leave the samples behind. When they peaked with Sensual
Woman on Very Mercenary it could have been laid
Elsewhere, Take London continues to captivate. Geddim
skits about like it has ants in its pants and SomdserSonofanothamutha
crawls along before lifting up with horns a plenty and dropping
back into a kitsch 70s xylophone weirdness – yet it hangs
together brilliantly, reminding me of Issac Hayes on the glorious
Hot Buttered Soul.
Serge, The Herbaliser’s ode to Serge Gainsbourg,
is a cool, laidback track with the twist of the French monologue
from Katerine. It’s a strange, triumphant end to the album
and, for me, the outstanding track.
Take London isn’t an amazing departure for The
Herbaliser. It relies on the familiar and well proven sound. It
is, however, their grown up album, full of nice musical touches
and great vocal delivery. I can’t wait to see it live.