I have mixed feelings about this LP. The best track here Snowboy ‘Snowboy’s House of Latin’ is the whirling kind of cross-bred tri-cultural Latino, hip-hop, jazz perfecta that is probably playing right now somewhere in a bar that I’m not hip enough to ever dare go into, frequented by tight-trousered off-duty barmen and immaculate honeys of indeterminate nationality crammed into clinging red dresses, drinking cocktails that have yet to be invented. Sounds great as I sit here typing this in novelty slippers and mismatched pyjamas, sipping on a cup-a-soup, pausing only to scratch my impressive credentials rhythmically.
Actually maybe that’s more about my social anxieties rather than any inherent qualities of Freedom Principle: Acid Jazz & Other Illicit Grooves Vol.2*. I don’t own Vol.1, and I suspect I never will unless someone gives it to me, which is how Vol.2 wound its way into my clutches. Now I like me some jazz, I was bought up on it, to a point and I am currently wrestling with my latest LP purchase Ornette Coleman Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation**, so the late 80’s Acid Jazz scene did make it onto my radar, just. I may have mentioned previously that it didn’t rock my wibblies very hard, but I was given this LP amongst a few that were being thrown out by someone and was curious enough to hold on to it.
It should be noted that in the hands of an eminent rockologist such as myself the Freedom Principle has yielded the answer that has been vexing rock fans for almost 30 years now – what is the link between Victor Hugo, the Communards and Black Sabbath? but I won’t tell you that yet.
The opening track of Freedom Principle is credited to noted critic and egghead David Toop^ and I’m sure that whilst it aims at cutting edge sophistication and mystique, the overall effect despite some sterling work on vibes from Orphy Robinson, is minor 60’s spy movie. As such I really like it on those terms, although I was struggling to hear Mr Toop’s guitar, some borderline sizzling jazz flute spirals lift this track into the realm of keeper. Mind you I am afraid that Cleveland Watkiss ‘Spend Some Time’ did something to me that I thought was impossible – made me nostalgic for Bobby McFerrin^^, this vocal and beats track is, let us be charitable, very much of its’ time.
On the plus side ‘The Shrimp’ by The Jason Rebello Trio is a great ‘proper’ jazz piece that doesn’t overstay its’ welcome, led by some excellent piano from Mr Rebello himself. James Taylor Quartet ‘Down By The River’ is a good fun time, lots of swing and more Hammond than it is strictly advisable to consume in one day and at the risk of sounding like some louche reviewer from the 50’s I rather enjoyed this toe-tapper. I also have some time for the eponymous ‘Slow Fuse’ by, umm what does eponymous mean again?, Slow Fuse, which is another enjoyable cinematic slice of relentless jazz fluff with some great discordant sax and piano – although the constant up-front beats, do deny the music space to breathe and tell^*.
Okay, okay you want some Freedom Principle links? Victor Hugo, presumably not the 19th century French Romantic dramatist and renowned free-thinker, sings on the Snowboy cut; Ex-Communards singer Sarah Jane Morris sings, flat I thought, on Jazz Renegades ‘Mother Of the Future’; the bassist on both that track and the one by James Taylor Quartet is none other than Lawrence Cottle*^, a fellow Welshman who played that very same year on Black Sabbath Headless Cross. I do hope the sessions were immediately after each other …
LC: Okay Tonio my man! I’m here, I’m hip to go and lay down some crazy jazz stylings. You dig?
TI: (Icy Silence)
LC: Mmm, a chilled vibe; I dig it to the max. Let’s just jam a little, light up some jazzcence and take it to the bridge.
TI: (The Icy Silence Of Insufferable, Eternal, Damnation)
LC: Come on, I’m wearing my expensive ethnic tunic to get me in the mood and to totally flavourize my bass runs in a 9:4 time signature. Hey you can try my beaded cap on if you like?
TI: (The Icy Silence Of A Million Doomed Souls)
And so on.
Freedom Principle has, just as I would expect from any compilation cut from a specific scene, some decidedly dodgy moments on it, some okay-but-average ones and a couple of very good tracks indeed. It’ll do. Is it just me though or do the two fingers on the cover look a bit like a bottom with a firework sticking out of it?
*or just Freedom Principle from here on in, otherwise I’ll wear out my cut and paste fingers.
**the verdict so far is that it sounds like two separate jazz octets falling down two separate stairwells, simultaneously – but I’m working on it, in case its an acquired taste.
^a very good chronicler of electronic music, amongst other things.
^^as Public Enemy VERY rightly put it:
Don’t worry be happy
Was a number one jam
Damn if I say it, you can slap me right here
^*that’s sort of a cover version of Mr Bruce Connection’s thoughts on my last Acid Jazz post.
*^spelt differently here to his normal ‘Laurence’.