JD & the Evils

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If you dig the chronic, and are partial to funkified sounds of the downhome/homegrown variety (as opposed to canned sassafras), then you probably should hear JD & the Evil's Dynamite Band. This record is the best approximation of drugs and funk since vintage Funkadelic, and it was recorded just a few months ago. As "live" sounding a "new" record as you're likely to ever hear again, it's all part of the Soul Fire tradition, and this label has put out nothing but winners so far. Specializing in the neo-funk, with pros like Lee Fields on board, Soul Fire is dedicated to preserving the eternal thang of the thang. That's something a lot of today's hiphoppers don't understand. They're selling themselves short in every way possible, depriving themselves of the organic process of making music. JD & the Evils have that sound like they're playing in a high school gym in Gary, IN, 1967. It's from that background that P-Funk hailed, and if you're gonna honor thy tradition you have to go back to the roots.

That's precisely what the band's done. Listen to "Mean Scene," an hypnotic jam based on a total Eddie-Hazel-stabbing-into-outer-space late-60s soul/psych groove. This is funk rhythm-making at its finest, in every way on the same level as JB or P-Funk and way better than Stevie Wonder or Isaac Hayes, even when they were at their peaks. These guys really get it, and there are seldom any bows to the non-funkified audience. These guys go about their work the same way Sun Ra & His Arkestra or Clinton and his gang did?they just keep going out there, and the results are stunning.

Precision is what it's all about. Listen to the way the bass leads the rhythm in the aptly named "Beer, (So Nice) Right On": it'd be nice to hear someone like Bushwick Bill rapping over it, but what JD & Co. are here to say is that, for once, we're gonna let the music do the talking. This is the sound of a band jamming, and simply jamming. But they do it with such precision?such ultracool elan?that it hardly ever gets old or hackneyed, even when they do an obvious P-Funk psychedelic freak-out on "The Evil D's." It works, because P-Funk's albums always had that too, and once again, JD & his buddies are going for authenticity. Like the Chesterfield Kings on their first album, constructing the garage-rock album that never was, the Evils have come up with the great missing early 70s junkie soul LP.

One can easily imagine a '71 crash-pad setting for "Sunday Kind of Love." This is the type of "sweet soul" that's become popular lately once again. Laid-back rhythms, a dopey atmosphere and flute leading the way?hell, they used to play stuff like this in supermarkets. JD & the Evils totally summon that vibe, of a lost afternoon somewhere in the past. It's not hokey like a lot of other retro escapades?these guys get all the subtle nuances that made the music of that era so great, nuances that a lot of music nowadays is missing.

"Flames of Darkness" roars with an organ so totally lo-fi it causes Velvet Underground feedback. These guys are geniuses at handling the same rock and funk merger that Funkadelic in their early days achieved. The flute once again leads the way on "Backwards Intentions," and the band rocks along accordingly. They use a lot of wah-wah and special effects, but the intrusion of digital crap is minimal. The sound is raw and alive and full of soul.

As far as instrumental bands go, these guys are as good as Booker T. & the MG's and better than the Crusaders. Something should be said about the label, too?they're definitely at the forefront of indie music-making?particularly black, but not rap, indie music-making. As such, every record they put out is an important one, and this one is no exception. Check out their website to find out more: http://www.soulfirerecords.com.

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