El Michaels Affair
Big Crown Records
I loved El Michaels Affair’s Wu Tang covers records – specifically the first one, what a revelation it was at the time. A simple concept no one else thought of first – covering hip-hop albums in the style of many of the samples they had sought out; instrumental funk and soul and groove versions of the rap classics. Good times indeed. I stayed around for some of the other El Michaels offerings, since Leon Michaels had already proved himself to me with his work in The Mighty Imperials, precursor to the Daptone sound and ethos – the likes of Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones riding in on the back of that wave.
Anyway, it’s been a while since we’ve heard from the El Michaels Affair – especially in terms of wholly original material – and so this new album is welcome. Particularly since it takes the cinematic brand of slow-burn funk and brittle-boned jazz that you know and love from the likes of Isaac Hayes at one end of the scale and David Axelrod at the other and finds a lush middle ground to roll around in.
Adult Themes is like a bunch of soundtrack clips that never quite made it to being fully finalised film cues – but we’re all the better off in this world for that fact.
At just 31 minutes (for 12 songs) this is a short, sharp blast of instrumental funk and soul. A great summer BBQ feel wafts and waves about and you could hit repeat to have this play again and then again and all would seem right in the world for an hour or more.
Again, there’s something deceptively simple at play here, it’s so masterfully done but there’s no real secret. Just good vibes, strong hints of a tune or a wafting melody at least and precision playing. So easy to like.
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