City Champs: The Set-Up

Album review
City Champs: The Set-Up

City Champs

The Set-Up

Label: Electrphonic
Media: CD
Genre: Jazz

Combine the grease of a Hammond B-3 organ with some chanka-chank electric guitar and crisp backbeats and what do you have? Well, Booker T & The MGs or maybe the Meters, to be sure. But in a contemporary context, that also applies to potent instrumental trios like Soulive and the Memphis-based City Champs. The title track here is a taste of chugging, behind-the-beat funk. “Drippy” is a bit of exuberant James Brown, a la “Get Up and Turn It Loose,” with guitarist Joe Restivo alternately channeling JB’s longtime guitarist Jimmy Nolen and Stax mainstay Teeny Hodges. There’s a touch of surf guitar on “Ricky’s Rant,” then Restivo dips back into a Teeny bag on “Crump St.,” which features a cameo from a tight three-piece horn section. “Chinatown” is an expressive ballad vehicle for B-3 maven Al Gamble while “Rigamarole” is strictly goodfoot fare. “Break It Up” is early 60s boogaloo, a la Lee Morgan’s “Sidewinder,” while “Comanche” is a slow-grooving, Otis Redding-styled soul anthem that turns Gamble loose. Cashing in on the popularity of the current HBO series, the CC also offer the theme from Mad Men. If not their best tune, it’ll surely please fans of both the retro-style show and the retro groove.

More Info

  • primary artist, City Champs
  • CD

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