THE BAMBOOS: 4 (Label: Tru Thoughts)


Over the past few years the Bamboos have built up a considerable following without achieving that final, major breakthrough. Now with the less-than-imaginatively titled fourth album the Aussie combo may be about to do it. The 12 tracker, you see, brings together all the best elements from the first three LPs and offers real variety. Where the band’s earlier albums were heavy on instrumentals with the odd acclaimed vocal, this one features just three. Those previously acclaimed vocals were down to the talents of Kylie Auldist and she takes the lion’s share here but the Bamboos hand some studio time to the US rapper, Lyrics Born and the Tongan, King Merc. The former guests on the repetitive, driving ‘Turn It Up’ while the latter takes lead on the Gnarls Barkley-flavoured ‘You Ain’t No Good’. In fairness though, Ms. A steals the honours. Her delivery on ‘Never Be The Girl’ is bob on the current retro soul sound so beloved of the pop charts. It’s a catchy little number, rivalled by the brassy ‘Keep Me In Mind’ as her show-stealer. The label, though, have gone with the opener, ‘On The Sly’ as the lead single. It’s a slippery slab of vocal funk with a hint of Caribbean skank about it. ‘Kings Cross’ is big and brash too. ‘Got To Get It Over’ is another funky roller while ‘Like Tears In The Rain’ is another one of those brave attempts by 21st century musicians to recreate the classic Northern soul sound. It’s a good enough cut but not quite right… you’d need to have been there (I mean in the great Northern clubs at THE time) to understand… the Bamboos clearly weren’t. That leaves the instrumentals. ‘Red Triangle’ has a 60s feel to it – crazy, twangy guitar; ‘Up On the Hill’ is led by a sitar and reminds me of the Beatles’ ‘Within You And Without You’; ‘Typhoon’ is a real groove – as wild and furious as its titling – coming across like the JBs recording at Stax and offering the sound that the Bamboos launched with. With it, they’re keeping faith with their old sound, but, overall, on ‘4’ they’re pushing their sound – developing, and offering a real, new variety. Recommended.
(BB) 4/5