Bah Samba are one of the UK’s longest running and most respected soul and dance bands. Founded way back in 1996 by keyboardist Julian Bendall, the Sambas boast an impressive CV. They’ve worked with amongst others Alice Russell, Alex O’Neil, Ultra Nate, Horace Andy and the legendary Fatback Band with whom they recorded the dance anthem ‘Let The Drums Speak’. The group have also topped the bill at the Southport Weekender and are the support band of choice for the legendary Roy Ayers. With so many outside commitments Bah Samba record sporadically but when they do release an album they deliver in style. ‘Here For Now’ is their latest offering and it’s one of their very best … and it’s certainly their most varied. Amongst the 11 cuts you’ll hear flavours of France, Spain and Portugal; you’ll get a garnish of Bollywood; you’ll be chilled in best Balearic style; and you’ll be enthralled by some of this year’s best UK soul.
With such an exotic cocktail on offer it’s hard to know where to start… but let’s cut to the set’s immediate grabber – billed as ‘Let The Drums Speak part 2’. This one, as we’ve just mentioned, was originally a Bah Samba collaboration with Bill Curtis of the Fatback Band. Bendall and his team revisit it here – and why not… it’s beats are deliciously tight (well this is the Fatback Band) and irresistible but for this outing it gets sprinkled with Bollywood magic. An Indian sitar intro sets up the familiar rhythms before a Hindi ( I think) vocal takes the tune to a new global level. And while we’re globe-trotting, try the French-vocalised ‘L’Humanite’ or the Portuguese ‘Corazon Roto’. Latin dancers will love the samba-school flourishes of ‘My Name Everywhere’ while any rug cutter will find the soulful house of ‘Lost Without You’ hard to resist.
The album’s title cut (vocal from Daniel Almeida) is quite lovely too – spacey and deliciously airy, it’s an uplifting 7 minutes worth of pop soul while if you like your soul a tad deeper try the dramatic ‘I Have Been Trying To Talk To You’ or the less complex (but equally soulful) ‘Little Interlude’ or the Incognito-ish ‘I Want You To Go’.
Mr Bah Samba, Julian Bendall, describes the album’s music as ‘Balearic Blue-Eyed Soul’ . Who am I to argue? But I’d have to add the adjective “quality” and stress the word “soul”.