In plain theory this should not work. But it’s not only working, it’s fabulous. This is a vivid, genre crossing album where blues and hip-hop, rock and reggae, soul and rockabilly, punk-rock/garage rock sound and orchestral arrangements are merged into one and working surprisingly well together.
On one hand we’ve got the veteran English singer-songwriter Elvis Costello (age 59), while on the other hand we’ve got The Roots, an hip hop/neo soul band. An explosive mixture which prove to work smoothly and delivered a surprisingly strong and charming album.
Actually this is one of the most refreshing albums I heard in a while. With solid roots back to soul, blues and funk, but having an almost garage rock and punk like raw edge, this 60-‘s, 70’s flavored music proved to be still fresh, surprising and much more alive then most of the plastic, midi and looped based things we’re listening today. And this comes from a guy who have no nostalgia syndrome and works (sometimes play) on a midi-controller each and every day for more then a decade now.
Elvis Costello has won multiple awards in his career, including a Grammy Award, and has twice been nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Male. In 2003, Elvis Costello and the Attractions were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Costello number 80 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
Formed in 1987 by Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, The Roots are a Grammy Award-winning band. Since their first independent album release, the band has released 10 studio albums, two EPs, and two collaboration albums, and has collaborated with a wide range of artists from different genres. The Roots have served as the house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon since its premiere in 2009. The Roots’ work has been repeatedly met with critical acclaim. About.com ranked the band #7 on its list of the 25 Best Hip Hop Groups of All-Time, describing them as “Hip hop’s first legitimate band.”
So, two leading artists from different generations and with different musical backgrounds are uniting their effort and creativity here to deliver a quite exciting artistic product.
01 – Walk Us Uptown
02 – Sugar Won’t Work
03 – Refuse to Be Saved
04 – Wake Me Up
05 – Tripwire
06 – Stick Out Your Tongue
07 – Come the Meantimes
08 – (She Might Be a) Grenade
09 – Cinco minutos con vos
10 – Viceroy’s Row
11 – Wise Up Ghost
12 – If I Could Believe
Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks
13 – My New Haunt
14 – Can You Hear Me
15 – The Puppet Has Cut His Strings
The album was released on September 17, 2013, and debuted at number 16 on the Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 18,000 copies in the United States. In its second week the album sold 6,000 more copies bringing its total album sales to 25,000.
The album featuring an army of session musicians, guest artists and orchestras which make the album sound warm, fat and genuine. No samplers, no sound libraries or loops.
The opening “Walk Us Uptown” taste like a classy Costello track with a cool twist of The Clash flavor. It’s raw, grinding, have that reggae balance and flavor, but it’s biting like a wild dog.
“Sugar Won’t Work” bring us back in time even more, it’s a sweet, have a ’50s-’60’s rock flavor with a nice soul taste and funky groove. This mixture of sounds and genres are throughout surprising and efficient, and it’s seems to be the “secret” ingredient of this album.
“Refuse to Be Saved” it’s half-way between Tom Waits and Tom Jones. It’s a smoothly contorted rhythm and blues with funk flavor, it’s coming from the past, but looking boldly into the future. The groove it’s awesome.
“Wake Me Up” continue the same groove and eventually the song it’s even heavier. The simple, but powerful beat with the pumping bass offers a solid foundation for this minimalist, but haunting and driven track.
“Tripwire” it’s another trip back to the 50’s and 60’s. A slow, bluesy trip, kind of unexpected, but nice.
“Stick Out Your Tongue” it’s darker and heavier, the sound it’s raw and subtle simultaneously, sneaking around and bite you when you’re expecting less. It’s like a slow working drug witch eventually will pull off the floor under your feet and left you floating.
“Come the Meantimes” merge a funky groove with a rocking feel. It’s intense and kind of danceable.
“(She Might Be a) Grenade” slowing down again, it’s bluesy and smoothly orchestrated, violins and funky basses building together the atmosphere. Taste like an old, strong cognac.
“Cinco Minutos Con Vos” (“Five Minutes With You”) ghostly reminded me of Peeping Tom’s “Mojo”. It’s a little bit slower, less darker and the guitars are less grinding and aggressive, but the basics are pretty much the same. The song featuring singer Marisol “La Marisoul” Hernandez.
“Viceroy’s Row” have a floating flavor, although it’s a twisted off mixture of 60’s aromas with smart modern rhythmic build-up and arrangement. It’s pretty genderless, blues and funk flavors are merged with hip-hop vibe.
“Wise Up Ghost” coming through slowly, but growing into an addictive, pounding track. It’s a blues-rock anthem with smart orchestral addition and kind of cinematic vibe.
“If I Could Believe” bring to the surface another blues with good-old-days flavor. Not my cup of tea actually, but nice.
Overall this is a nice, addictive album, kind of hard to turn it off once you pushed the play button. I’m listening to this for 5 or 6 day now. And counting.
Buy it or steal it! Mandatory!!
Elvis Costello – Official Site