MARCO ‘PIAGGIO’ PIAGGESI is a soul/jazz/funk fan from Pisa, Italy. He fronts a music collective called THE PIAGGIO SOUL COMBINATION. Old mods will know that Piaggio is a rather fine Italian motor scooter company and if you factor that in with the artwork for the band’s latest album (see above) you can probably guess that the collective attempt to peddle their take on mod music – soul (chiefly the Northern variety), soul-jazz and Latin – the sorts of sounds peddled in the famed mod clubs of the 60s.
The combo has a couple of albums under their belt and they’re setting themselves up for a third release – ‘Soultimate’. The double vinyl 14 tracker has been produced by DJ and sometime Paul Weller collaborator Andy Lewis while many of the tracks feature Arkansas born Lakeetra Knowles who brings her own brand of Stateside savvy to proceedings.
The album opens up with ‘Hang On’ – a properly authentic slice of “Northern”. The tempo is spot on, the changes just right, the vocals and bvs convincing while the overall sound echoes the tinny atmospherics that labels like Mirwood were known for. Play this out on a white label 45 at one of those conservative, vinyl-only Northern dos and you’d fool most of the punters in believing it was a long lost artefact from some now defunct US studio.
Most of the rest of the album doesn’t get it quite so right – but the band and the producer get close to Northern on things like ‘Blind Man’ and ‘Hard Times State Of Mind’.
The album offers other flavours too. ‘Borderline Breakaway’ is a soul-jazz homage, ‘Dome Slow’ owes something to Booker T while ‘Se Lama Boogaloo’ could’ve come straight outa Spanish Harlem via Joe Bataan. Some of the other tunes smack of Euro pop but, interestingly, the closer, ‘By Then (I’ll Be Gone)’ channels a 60s beat group sound (wait for the mad ending!) An unusual album this – interesting, intriguing and plenty of variety and invention.
THE PIAGGIO SOUL COMBINATION; Soultimate released viaArea Pirata Records, January 28th.