Civil Tones – City Stoopin’

January 01, 1970



Lord, what a sweet way to start one’s weekend off (or any
day, for that matter): sleek but gritty instro soul ‘n’ funk just the way your
mama used to bake it. We’re talkin’ the Mar-Keys and MG’s side of Stax and Memphis,
the Funk Brothers on the Detroit/Motown end of the spectrum, and maybe even a
little of The Swampers’ flow direct from Muscle Shoals. The Civil Tones are a
guitar/keys/bass/drums combo from St. Louis and, as per the album title, make
with the sounds of the summer, the kind you’d wanna hear down the alleys and
from around the corner as you’re moseying along from block to block, hanging
out and swapping stories with your friends from the neighborhood. Lady Gaga,
this ain’t.


Aside from a sinewy cover of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue track “All Blues” these are
all original compositions, yet you’d be hard pressed to peg ‘em as having been
birthed anytime after, say, 1974. Even the production boasts a warm and
intimate analog glow, which bolsters the already pungent stank of such tunes as “Tighten Up/Grazing In The Grass” pastiche
“One Day, Again and Again”; the funky, fatback slap of “Soul To Go” (featuring
“The Brass Ackwards Horn Section” lending essential swing); hectic romp “The
Scrambler” (sounds like a chase scene in a vintage Blaxploitation flick); the
New Orleans groove and shuffle of “HowdYaLike to Be King”; and the
wah-wah/Dennis Coffey-like “Bungle Funk” – love that title. There are also numbers
here ripe for romancing with panache, including the organ-powered, sashaying
title track and the lush, subtly Latin cinematic soul of “Slinky” (which brings
to mind some of Britain’s
St. Etienne’s similarly relevant crate-digging constructions).


In short, there’s a little something for everyone here if
you’re a lover of any of the styles or titles namechecked above. More to the
point, though, these four gentlemen suggest that they are not only astute
scholars of some of the greatest music ever made, they also know how to breathe
new, vital life into it in order to carry it forth for the next generation. Incidentally,
the band’s Chicago-based patron, Pravda Records, better watch out or folks are
gonna think it’s the go-to label for primo contemporary funk ‘n’ soul. Pravda’s
already released a couple of jaw-dropping platters from The Diplomats of Solid
Sound (see our recent review here); the arrival of City Stoopin’ – the Tones’ fourth for the label – is proof that
somebody in the office has ears to the ground and feet planted firmly on the


DOWNLOAD: “One Day, Again and Again,” “Bungle
Funk,” “Slinky” FRED MILLS






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