LIGHT OF THE WORLD: Round Trip (Label: EMI)

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A master of understatement might say that the history of Light Of The World is convoluted. The archetypal Brit funk band, formed in 1978 and named after Kool and The Gang’s ’74 LP, ‘Lights Of The World’, have had more personnel changes than Hollyoaks on a good day; to add to the confusion they’ve split and reformed a number of times and there’s been all sorts of offshoots, associations with other groups (notably Spandau Ballet!) and founder members going on to bigger things (most notably Bluey Maunick with Incognito). Though the band’s CV is confusing at the end of the day that doesn’t really matter. Artists must be judged on their music and here, with the reissue and re-promotion of the group’s second full LP, ‘Round Trip’, we have the ideal opportunity to do just that. What you get to investigate is the original ten track 1980 LP along with seven live cuts recorded at the Jazz Cafe in 2007 by Beggar and Co and various guests… it’s all getting confusing again, so let’s focus first on the original ‘Round Trip’ LP. The set is very much of its time and those who remember Brit funk will enjoy reeling in the memories, but, that said, some of the tunes haven’t travelled down time too well – most notably the interesting version of ‘I Shot The Sheriff’. The better cuts are the ballads like ‘I’m So Happy’ – with a no-expense-spared string intro and the equally dramatic ‘I Walk The Streets Alone’. The funky ‘Pete’s Crusade’ is enjoyable too, though its likeness to certain 80s TV action show themes had me wondering exactly what show it sounded like. The LP’s best cut though is the simple, yet anthemic ‘London Town’. It still sounds fresh and if you’re a Londoner or have spent any decent lengths of time down in the smoke you’ll know how well it captures the city’s atmosphere. Now for the bonus live cuts. There are seven in total and are down to a Light Of The World offshoot – Beggar and Co, augmented by the Funk Jazz Collective. Time has made the players tighter and the brass beefier and their confidence is such that they’re able to tackle Brass Construction’s ‘Movin’ with real vigour. There’s also brassy takes on ‘Pete’s Crusade’ and ‘I’m So Happy’ (both from the ‘Round Trip’ LP) while ‘Bahia De Palma’ is a big, jazzy Summer jamboree. The full live LP from Beggar and Co is also being newly re-promoted and it’s worth checking out too. Obviously the cuts we’ve mentioned are all featured, but you also get takes on Roy Ayers ‘Evolution’, Tom Browne’s ‘Throw Down’ and the classic ‘Nature Boy’ with a great vocal from Camille Hinds. The set also features a heartfelt version of ‘London Town’ – which, played at the Jazz Café, has a certain poignancy… but it doesn’t help the confusion! For more details – confusing or otherwise – go to
(BB) 3/5