Project N-Fidelikah

project_nfidelikah

Title: Project N-Fidelikah

Artist: Project N-Fidelikah

Label: Rat Pak Records

Formats: CD, MP3

Release Date: May 27, 2016

 

 

Is it possible to create a supergroup full of lesser-known musical personalities?  Not every musician is a Beatle or Bob Dylan, and not all supergroups, therefore, can have the kind of surefire star power that The Traveling Wilburys did.  However, the perennial problem with supergroups is that, inevitably, dominant personalities usually win out and the group’s sound ends up getting compromised in the process.  Project N-Fidelikah, however, doesn’t have the typical “too many cooks” supergroup problem, in part because it doesn’t have a typical supergroup lineup, drawing musicians from the category of “bands you’ve heard of but don’t know their catalog too well.”  Project N-Fidelikah features vocalist, organist and saxophonist Angelo Moore, aka Dr. Madd Vibe (Fishbone), guitarist George Lynch (Dokken, The Lynch Mob), bassist Pancho Tomaselli (War), and studio drummer Chris Moore. The group’s lineup reads like an ESP guitar ad (Lynch and Tomaselli are both endorsers, and the story is that they met through the guitar company), but plays with the scrappiness of a garage band. N-Fidelikah’s sound draws heavily from the eclectic rock of Fishbone and their contemporaries in the late-’80s/early-’90s LA rock scene,while clearly incorporating other members’ musical personalities. The confluence of these influences makes Project N-Fidelikah eclectic, humorous, and generally off-the-wall.

Check out the group’s first single, “Landslide Salvation”:

Perhaps prophesying the 2016 return of fellow LA rockers’ The Red Hot Chili Peppers and the transformation of Rage Against the Machine’s core group into Prophets of Rage, Project N-Fidelikah is about more than indulging the nostalgia market for the funky rock of a particular time and place. Digging deep into funk influences, Chris Moore and Tomaselli set up monster grooves throughout the record.  Perhaps surprisingly for a hair metal superstar, Lynch uses these grooves as a canvas for articulate (even downright economical) guitar work, at times digging deep into the groove with distorted power chords and at other times drawing upon his ’80s chops to provide a burst of energy and color that compliments a given song’s groove rather than overriding it.  Dr. Madd Vibe’s lyrics and sax top off the gradual layering, tackling political issues (“Anchor Babies”), race (“I Wanna Be White (But I Can’t)”), and the abuses that the music industry inflicts upon artists (“Exposure Fi’Pay”).  Even the group’s jammiest (and perhaps most interesting) track, “Deprivation of Independence,” is a meditation upon mass surveillance, while its slow-burn groove is equally useful as a vehicle for lick trading, punctuated by tasty guitar solos from Lynch and sax lines from Angelo Moore.

All-in-all, Project N-Fidelikah is a strong effort by the funkiest supergroup you’ve never heard of.  The album is lyrically and musically challenging, while full of enough tasty grooves and licks to keep listeners coming back for more, even after they’ve absorbed the record’s striking social critique.

 

Reviewed by Matthew Alley

War Stories

Title: War Stories
Artist: Lonnie Jordan
Label: Fantasy; Concord
Catalog No.: FCD-30266; 1027
Release date: July 24, 2007

After a long hiatus, Lonnie Jordan has released War Stories, an album serving as his musical autobiography. The songs on the album loosely follow the course of Jordan’s life, from his boyhood in Compton, through his work with War, to his current relationship with his wife, Teresa. One of the most lyrically poignant pieces is “Baby Brother,” in which Jordan grieves over the loss of his younger brother to a police shooting in 1971. Throughout the song, Jordan reminisces about the closeness of their relationship and how “tripping on his mind was like drinking funky wine by the river.” Also mournful, is “Rock and Roll Days” in which Jordan tells of being the last person to play with Jimi Hendrix on the night of his death and remembers spending time with both Hendrix and Bob Marley.

Jordan also chronicles his time with War, reviving older songs such as “The World is a Ghetto,” “Get Down,” and “Deliver the World.” “The World is a Ghetto” seems to be particularly controversial with War fans, many whom tend to feel nothing can compare with the original release. Although certainly different from the original, Jordan’s latest version still offers a powerful listening experience and his use of acoustic piano lends the song a more wistful and brooding quality.

Overall, JB Eckl and Pancho Tomaselli have produced a fantastic sounding album. Not content with the current trend of digitally recording artists isolated in their separate studio boxes, Eckl and Tomaselli went all out to recreate a vintage production setup. Not only was the album recorded in a historic LA studio, but the tracks were laid down on analog tape. Jordan aptly summarizes the recording process for the album:

It’s all live, no sequencing, no tricks, nothing but real musicians playing real music. I did a few keyboard overdubs, but that was done live to tape too; they turned on the machine and let me play, just like the olden days. (http://www.myspace.com/lonniejordan)

What you hear on this CD is the sound of performers actually playing together and putting forth their best work… something that’s becoming increasingly rarer in the age of digital editing.

The producers also placed a number of vintage keyboards at Jordan’s fingertips, including a Rhodes, a Wurlitzer, a Hammond B-3 organ, and a melodicanot to mention a minimoog and mellotron skillfully played by Sebastian Arocha Morton. And the keyboards are just one course of a sonorous feast. Jordan’s cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black” resets the piece to a Latin beat, complete with timbales, congas, and Cuban-style piano. The cover of Hendrix’s “Third Stone from the Sun” features the vintage keyboards, minus the melodic and the Wurlitzer, and mixes in the sounds of the berimbaua single-string percussion instrument from Brazil. “Interlude-San Juanito Dub” overlays a polyrhythmic groove of congas and clapping with a quirky combination of Rhodes, guitar, and bass clarinet. Despite this dramatic and somewhat eclectic range of instrumentation, everything fits well into the overall mix of sound.

In dramatic contrast to the more eccentric timbres of the above tracks, the instrumentation for “Teresa” consists solely of acoustic piano. This closing track exposes the more expressive and tender side of Jordan’s keyboard playing for the listener’s perusal. Most of the pieces on the album, however, stay closer to traditional instrumentation and flavors of funk, jazz, and soul.

Although the album cover credits Jordan as the primary artist, the whole band is comprised of stellar artists, not the least of which are Eckl (Santana) and Tomaselli themselves on electric and bass guitar. Just a few of the other featured musicians are Mitch Kashmar on harmonica, Pablo Calogero on winds, and Oliver Charles (Ben Harper) and Pete McNeal (Cake, Panderer) on percussion.

The only downside of War Stories is that it leaves the listener wondering how long he or she might have to wait for Jordan to release his next creative endeavor. Albums that bring together this level of talent, craftsmanship, and creativity are few and far between and it would be a shame to have to wait another decade for the encore.

Video clip of Jordan playing a live and solo version of “Don’t Let No One Get You Down,” one of the songs featured on War Stories, compliments of Jordan and the WARtet:

Posted by Ronda L. Sewald