The main ingredients for the U.K. collective Down to the Bone should be clear after eight CDs: long jams, horns o’ plenty, a few soulful vocals and plenty of groove. Once again, it’s non-musician Stuart Wade-he hums songs into a tape recorder or something like that-who is the wiz behind the curtain on DTTB’s ninth, directing regulars Julian Crampton (bass) and Neil Angilley (keys) and a rotating cast of extras.
But even with guest Oli Silk on “South Side Overdrive,” “Music Is the Key” and “Watch Me Fly” and soul siren Imaani on that last tune and “Second Nature,” DTTB is a group that can turn a groove into a rut. For a band that’s created such gems as “Staten Island Groove” and “Parkside Shuffle,” it’s a mystery why Wade and co. for the most part couldn’t create a memorable melody to save their lives. This stuff no doubt sounds great in clubs, but on CD it’s like being chained up in a basement with a record with a never-ending skip.