"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
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.
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