Analog Hi-Fi Surprise
Welcome to "October 1970," when you might hear "Abbie Hoffman" sing (prematurely) "A Song of Remembrance for a Time When Wife Swapping Was Considered Politically Correct." That's just the right time for jam band Mushroom, judging from the presence of those three songs on its Analog Hi-Fi Surprise, which is actually a reissue of an earlier disc, now featuring four new tracks and the same proudly goofy artwork on the cover. Fortunately, the '70s are as good for inspiring new music as they were bad for graphic design, and Mushroom lays the heavy funk, the sonic surprises and the surprisingly subtle musicianship in quantities copious enough to make anyone nostalgic for their lost decade.
Mushroom's specialty, at least on this record, is the slow-developing scorcher. Witness "Abbie Hoffman," built equally on unquenchably funky bass lines and plangent, supple harmonies supplied by dueling keyboard players Michael Holt and Graham Connah; it builds to a burning climax and flames out slowly and seductively. The band's attention to aural detail pays off big-time in "October 1970," which opens with a string bass playing a soaring melody as various keyboard noises gambol around the line, while an electro-thump backbeat shakes up the texture just a little bit-an irresistible sound. Simpler tracks provide pleasures as well: "Jamming with Erik," one of the new additions, has a fresh-faced Headhuntersish funk sound that's hard not to tap your toe to, especially with the the two keyboards supplying fast runs and rich chords.
Analog Hi-Fi Surprise may take aesthetic cues from the '70s, but it delivers the goods for any time you can name.