Boston funk collective Lettuce had been dormant since 2001’s Outta Here, but the 2006 deaths of James Brown and hip-hop impresario J Dilla inspired the band to get back in the studio. Rage! aims to pay homage to many of funk’s founding fathers, and bassist Erick Coomes, keyboardist Neal Evans, saxophonists Sam Kininger and Ryan Zoidis, guitarists Eric Krasno and Adam Smirnoff and drummer Adam Deitch deliver 14 cuts that do just that.
“Speakeasy” is a vamp borrowed straight from the Meters’ playbook in which Deitch takes control of the kit and keeps the groove in check, while “Last Suppit” nods to Tower of Power in its familiar fleet-fingered bass groove and blistering brass runs. A standard line on bands like Lettuce dictates that boisterous party-funk is more captivating in a drink-sodden club than it is on record. While a few tracks on Rage! fall victim to that malaise, others like “Relax,” bonus cut “Mr. Yancey ” and a pair of choice covers (“Move on Up,” “Express Yourself”) demonstrate how Lettuce’s groove is relentless—in the club and on your headphones.