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04/22/13

Rock Candy Funk Party
We Want Groove
J&R Adventures

If you could put James Brown, Herbie Hancock, Joe Satriani, Galactic, Medeski Martin & Wood, Soulive and the Heavy in a blender, you might wind up with Rock Candy Funk Party, whose music sounds exactly like its name. It stands to reason. The five guys in the band—guitarists Joe Bonamassa and Ron DeJesus, keyboardist Renato Neto, bassist Mike Merritt and drummer Tal Bergman—have a collective CV that spans every kind of popular music from the past half-century. Their credits include, to name a few, Joe Zawinul, Tito Puente, Chuck Berry, Prince, Billy Idol, Bruce Springsteen and LL Cool J.

So what do they do in this new collective? Old-school funk-rock (“Octopus-e,” “We Want Groove,” “Dope on a Rope”) that rivals the best efforts of the great ’70s outfits. Machine-gun metal-funk (“Spaztastic”) that induces Beavis-and-Butthead-approved head bobbing. Atmospheric, ambient fusion (“The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life”) that would be at home in a sci-fi noir film. Muppet-style drumming melded with prog-rock and disco (“Animal/Work”)—yes, really.

“Ode to Gee,” with its softly funky rhythm, infectious bassline and alternately lilting and soulful Rhodes piano, could have come off any of several Herbie Hancock albums from the ’70s, until Bonamassa starts shredding. For all the great new melodies, though, the hippest parts of We Want Groove are its two covers: a down-and-dirty run-through of Jimmy Smith’s “Root Down (And Get It)” and a superb treatment of “Mr. Clean” from Freddie Hubbard’s Straight Life, appearing here as a hidden track. But don’t take any of this too seriously. After all, the band sure doesn’t, not with a jacket that parodies Miles Davis’ We Want Miles. Just get down with it.

Originally published in April 2013
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