by Greg Baise
After their electrifying funk-dub-Sharrock debut, whered 5ive Style go? Well, there were some radical changes in direction and personnel, and then a bit of a disappearing act for these talented instrumentalists. But voilà, theyre back! And as the package authoritatively sez, "5ive Style is Bill Dolan, Jeremy Jacobsen, John Herndon and LeRoy Bach," just in case you were worried about holdovers from their "Southern boogie rock complete with vocals" incarnation.
The Stylers return to streamlined funk land these tunes have the economy that the album title suggests. A couple of cuts, including the opener, find a tight blend of electric and acoustic string work, stuffing a bit of bluegrass agility into these funky pipe bombs. Elsewhere, its Sharrock-style funk nuggets, with scratchy guitar played with banjo-hands, and rhythms informed by reggae and the Crescent City. A nice surprise comes with the inclusion of "The Lost Oar," from Jacobsens Lonesome Organist repertoire. Here, the band takes the once-whimsical tune into TV funk-theme land, making like the Meters rewriting the theme to "Welcome Back, Kotter." Jacobsen also gets to bring out his multi-instrumentalist moves in "The Fancy Dance in Jeremys Pants," a short and self-explanatory little ditty. Dolan shows off some Bill Frisell-like cinematic atmospherics on "Here We Go." Meanwhile, the whole gang sets the studio knobs to complete dub-out on "Hit the Decks," courtesy of Herndons exemplary awareness of dub drum sounds, and Bachs phat, spliff-padded basslines (Casey Rices studio tweak expertise is probably in there somewhere, too). And "Pledge Drive" should be on standby this season to help raise some extra funds for "Afropop Worldwide." Dolans lines sound like they came out of Malis 70s hit parade they go up against Jacobsens steel drums and everyone goes home dancing.
Its great that these crack musicians could bury whatever hatchets they had and pick up their axes as 5ive Style once again.