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The Brighton Port Authority
I Think We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat
Southern Fried Records
www.thebrightonportauthority.com


"Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll," the mantra trumpeted by burgeoning rock musicians throughout the '60s and '70s has waited thirty years to uncover some of their most prized recordings from that period, at least that is the [story behind] the Brighton Port Authority. The Brighton Port Authority, whose members include Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim), Simon Thornton, David Byrne, Iggy Pop, Lateef, Dizzee Rascal, Emmy the Great, Jamie T, Martha Wainwright, Thomas Gandey, Justin Robertson (aka DJ Lionrock), Ashley Beedle (Black Science Orchestra), Olly Hite, Connan Mockasin, Pete York, and Jack Penate, have dusted off a handful of songs recorded in London's legendary BPA Studios from the '70s that have never seen the light of day until now on the group's recent offering, I Think We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat.

The original BPA were a loose-limbed jamming unit originally known as the Brighton Phonographic Association. At its core were local musicians Norman Cook and Simon Thornton who gathered various singers and session musicians in a worn-down warehouse which was converted into the BPA Studios. Injecting fresh blood into old tunes, I Think We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat could be viewed as a retrospective, but more precisely when these songs were originally recorded, they were before their time and have kind of stayed locked inside a safety box until they were ripe to bear fruit. I mention this because their time of ripeness is now. Exhumed by Dr. Randolph Seal and produced by Norman Cook and Simon Thornton, I Think We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat has tracks that wield a dance-funk energy like Lily Allen and spacey folk-rock reflective of Angels And Airwaves. Ironically, the artists which BPA's works are relatable to have all come after these songs were written, so how can you copy artists that have come after you? This is what makes these songs ripe to be released now. Today's audiences can relate to these songs and feel enamored of them in a way that the generation which should have heard them first never could.

The familiar effervescence of ska-pop from the Talking Heads' David Byrne in "Toe Jam" and the jangly punk rock grooves of The Stooges' Iggy Pop in "He's Frank" remind listeners that old-timers can still sound current and enjoyable. Conversely, other members of BPA were not even born yet when these songs were written, like Jamie T whose rendition of "Local Town" imports a slinky Brit-punk fervor, and Pete York whose fleshy grunge rock feathers in "Dirty Sheets" are coated in a seductive lisp and shoegaze-inspired ringlets. The reggae-jazz pixels of "Should I Stay Or Should I Blow" featuring Ashley Beedle is highlighted with techno-infused squiggles, and the liquid atmospherics of "Island" showcase the gentle flickering effects of Justin Robertson. Emma-Lee Moss (aka Emmy The Great) sinks her vocals deeply into the smooth rock rivulets of "Seattle," which segues into the gospel-flinted ska tufts of "Spade" featuring the soulful voicing of Martha Wainwright. The caressive strokes of Simon Thornton in "Superman" are lucent and romantically hued, and augmented by the flowy latexed movements of Thomas Gandey in "Superlover." Here, the album creates the optimal atmosphere for a candlelit dinner before closing the disc with the soft-rock grooves of Olly Hite whose vocals produce balmy soul-imbued stretches reminiscent of Queen's Freddie Mercury in "So It Goes."

BPA's album seems like a mixed bag of music, though Norman Cook's fingerprints are on all of the tracks with the exception of "So It Goes" - penned by Nick Lowe, and the Ganesh Seshadri and Bruce Hardy song "He's Frank." The album shows versatility and a keen perception of modern pop music. No one could guess that these songs were from the '70s unless someone said so. It's an enjoyable album furnished with old timepieces equipped with new machinations that contemporary audiences can feel are an integral part of themselves.

-Susan Frances

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