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Fronted by the charismatic Randy Roberts, the Capital Strokes are a huge 12 piece Italian funk n’soul band. Listening to this debut 12 tracker, though, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Strokes were straight out of Harlem, Atlanta, Watts or any other US funk breeding ground… the storm they cook up is that authentic! Mind you the outfit have pedigree. Singer Randy “Reverend” Roberts is the son of US born R&B singer Rocky Roberts, who after quitting the US navy, settled in Italy where he became a big star. Randy has inherited his dad’s showmanship and soulful flair and for the past two years he’s starred in his own Italian TV show. His band, the Capital Strokes are drawn from the cream of Rome’s session scene and collectively they’ve starred at festivals all over Europe while individually some of the team have worked with Incognito, Tony Momrelle and other soul illuminati.

‘CS’ is the collective’s debut set and listening you know that the band’s PR blurb isn’t just hype when it describes their influences and inspirations … the music of the Meters, Parliament, Sly and The Family Stone and certain Purple presence.

Randy and the Strokes set out their stall from the start with a blistering opener, ‘They Wanna Funk Me Up (Freddie’s Dead)’. It’s a new tune – totally contemporary but it’s built round the hypotonic riff for dear old Curtis’ ‘Freddie’s’ Dead’. It kind of sums up where the band’s music is coming from – a bridge between the present and the past, if you would. Whatever, it’s a dynamic slab of soul and funk and it’s a long time since I’ve heard an album open so explosively! There’s more of the same, on ‘Do It Like The Strokes’ (which borrows something from the intro to ‘Car Wash’), the instrumental ‘Distinct 11’, ‘Foxy’ and the lengthy ‘Oh Yeah’.

For variety, ‘The Sound Of Love’ is tad smoother, the flute-led Tomei’s Joint’ could be an out-take from the ‘Shaft’ soundtrack while ‘Doo-Wop Like The Strokes ‘ is a surprising a-capella moment. The whole album though is one big surprise and proves that you can find real soul and genuine funk in all kinds of unexpected places. Find out more @ www.facebook.com/capitalstrokes

(BB) 4/5