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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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JAH WOBBLE & BILL SHARPE

Kingdom of Fitzrovia

Storyville 101 4279

 

 

1. You Make Me Happy

2. Rush Hour

3. Kingdom of Fitzrovia

4. Spanish Place

5. Loquacious Loretta

6. In the Beat of the Night

7. Matter Transfer

8. Serenades and Serendipity

 

Jah Wobble - Bass

Bill Sharpe - Keyboards

Marc Layton-Bennett - Drums

Sean Corby - Trumpet, flugelhorn

P. J. Higgins - Vocals (track 1)

Fridrik Karlsson - Guitar (track 1)

Jonas Persson - Drum programming (track 2)


 

Chalk and cheese? Jah Wobble (alias John Wardle) is best known as the original bassist for John Lydon's post-punk band Public Image Ltd. (PiL). Bill Sharpe made his name as keyboardist with the sophisticated jazz-funk group Shakatak. The two men seem to be polar opposites, but they were brought together through their shared appreciation of various forms of funk and jazz, such as Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, Weather Report and the Crusaders.

Fitzrovia is the nickname for an area of London where this CD was recorded, west of Bloomsbury. The album doesn't give a musical impression of Fitzrovia but it consists mainly of rather diffuse pieces of jazz-funk. The first track is in soul mode, with a vocal by P. J. Higgins, although the lyrics are unclear. Here and elsewhere, Sean Corby's trumpet interposes some atmospheric punctuation.

Jah Wobble's deep tone on the bass guitar is dominant throughout the CD but Bill Sharpe's keyboards seem to spend most of the time doodling instead of playing melodically. The only real solos he gets are on In the Beat of the Night and Serenades and Serendipity, and they both seem unfocused. I would have loved to have heard more of Bill, as I am a great admirer of his keyboard work with Shakatak, especially as his solos have often been satisfyingly melodic. In fact most of the melody on this album comes from the trumpeter, whose work lifts several tracks out of the commonplace. Otherwise too many tracks are indistinguishable from one another.

The collaboration of Jah Wobble and Bill Sharpe could have led to some interesting interplay but the album sinks into the unfortunate modern habit of rambling, with lots of riffs but not enough memorable tunes. Perhaps the explanation lies in Jah's sleeve-note, where he says "We wrote pretty much as we went along in the studio".

Tony Augarde

www.augardebooks.co.uk



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