Bristling heavy funk with abundant shades of afrobeat, soul jazz, boogaloo, and distorted rock color, 102% is the fifth full length album/cd effort by Britainâ€™s most dangerous funk quartet The New Mastersounds. On the heels of their acclaimed 3rd studio album This Is What We Do and several tours of the US and Europe in 2005, the band was convinced a live offering was due and released Live at La Cova in early 2006.
Continuing to make appearances at US festivals and on the funk-jamband club circuit into 2006 - including Langerado Music Festival, High Sierra Music Festival, and South By Southwest - on stage the band began stretching out, adding new twists and bops to many of the old favorites, and new dimensions to the interplay and groove development.
The New Mastersounds were now pulling off three hour sets, mixing up infectious funk originals with their own arrangements of the soul-jazz classics, keeping the crowds dancing and attracting sit-ins by members of Phish and the Greyboy Allstars, as well as Karl Denson, Bryan Jordan (KDTU), Stanton Moore (Galactic) George Porter Jr (The Meters), Ivan Neville (Neville Brothers) and Papa Mali. Towards the end of 2006 the band returned to the studio to complete their fifth full length effort, from which the 7" 45rpm single â€œTalk is Cheap/Thirty Threeâ€ was released in November, to the delight of the DJ's and vinyl junkies.
Led by guitar virtuoso Eddie Roberts, this telepathically tight quartet features plenty of Hammond grooves by B3 burner Bob Birch, with phat and heavy bass and drums courtesy of messers Pete Shand and Simon Allen respectively. Guest Rob Lavers on saxophone and flute adds the fifth flavor to several already toxic numbers. 102% is guaranteed to satisfy old fans and recruit plenty of new followers of funk and soul jazz, with a broad spectrum of pure vintage sounds and original hooks & grooves that just keep getting better and better! 102% will be a surefire hit with all their fans past and present - an impressive list that includes Keb Darge, Kenny Dope, Mr Scruff, Gilles Peterson, Norman Jay, DJ Shadow, Snowboy, Quantic, Richard Searling and many more groove-lovers across the globe.
REVIEW: Brian Ferdman - Jambase.com February 2007:
The New Mastersounds â€“ 102%
3 on the B Records 3BRCD005
The New Mastersounds are four chaps with some serious funk chops. Hailing from Leeds in the UK, they revel in the soulful music that has long been all the rage in Northern England. Having rightfully gained a reputation for out-Metering The Meters, their latest effort, 102% is another retro-fueled funkathon that sees the band expanding its range into previously unexplored territory.
Of course, funk is still the bread and butter of this band, and 102% delivers a heavy diet of it. A serious groove is laid down in "33 (A Fine Year to Die)," with Bob Birch dropping in the perfect accents on his bubbling Hammond B-3. Pete Shand's nimble bassline locks in perfectly with Eddie Robertsâ€™ greasy guitar to give "Give Me a Minute (Pt 2)" the nastiness it needs. And the title track delivers the killer Meters-like strut weâ€™ve come to expect from The New Mastersounds. Similar sentiments are also echoed by the deep pocket of â€œReturn to GÃjÃ³n,â€ which relies heavily upon Simon Allenâ€™s pulsating backbeat to create an intoxicating rhythm that will have hips grinding and appendages flailing.
Not content to stay stuck in the funk zone, 102% dips its toes into a couple of other related pools. On the prime souljazz of "Carrot Juice," Roberts' ripping guitar would make Grant Green, Jr. blush, while Shand's nimble bass and Allen's superkinetic drums combine for a rock solid rhythm section. Toss in some hyperactive organ from Birch and you got yourself one of the best tracks on the album. The dance party continues with hip-shaking aplomb on â€œTalk Is Cheap,â€ a jazzy number that employs some excellent breakbeats and cool sax solos from guest Rob Lavers. Afrobeat filtered through a lens of Curtis Mayfield is on the docket as â€œHey Fela!â€ pays tribute to Fela Kuti while sounding as if the tune belonged on the soundtrack to a 1970s blaxploitation film. The album concludes with two space-age, trippy numbers, â€œL.A. Root Down (Dub Side of The Pier)â€ and â€œParanoid (Is It Any Wonder?)â€ The former is a chilled-out bopper that features Birch experimenting with off-kilter effects and figures on his Fender Rhodes, and the latter is an intense head-spinner that swirls with washes and plenty of weirdness.
Most of the tracks on 102% are upbeat cuts with very danceable grooves, making this an excellent party album. Even the more experimental songs still have a familiar and addictive beat, and itâ€™s on these numbers that The New Mastersounds set themselves apart from other bands. While many would be content to crank out discs full of mere retrofunk, The New Mastersounds are not interested in re-creating the past; rather they are taking vintage sounds and attitudes and merging them with modern ideas. The result is an addictive blend that has one foot in the past, one foot in the present, and both eyes on the future.
(Brian Ferdman - Jambase.com - February 2007)