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The Herbaliser - Take London


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 of time.

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 the tracks.

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 to rest.

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.

 

Track listing:
1. Take London Intro
2. Nah' Mean, Nah'm' Sayin'-Feat. Jean Grae
3. Song For Mary
4. Generals-Feat. The Generals & Jean Grae
5. Failure's No Option-Feat. Cappo
6. Lord Lord-Feat. Roots Manuva
7. The Man Who Knows [Interlude]
8. Kittynapper
9. Geddim'
10. If You Close Your Eyes-Feat. Jean Grae
11. Sonofanuthamutha
12. Twice Around-Feat. Jean Grae
13. I Know A Bloke [Interlude]
14. 8 Men Strong
15. Serge

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