Monday, July 30, 2007

Review: The Pietasters "All Day"

Imagine, for a moment, that The Pietasters stumbled across a time machine. And imagine, for a moment, that they traveled back in time to Kingston, Jamaica circa 1963 to listen to The Skatalites perform at the height of Ska's popularity. Then, hopping back into the time machine, they traveled to Northern England circa 1965 to watch Mods dance and kick to some classic Soul tunes.

And then, hopping back into the time machine, The Pietasters traveled back to Jamaica circa 1969 to observe Reggae take root in the ghettos of Trenchtown. And then imagine, for a moment, they traveled back to the present day to record an album based upon what they'd heard, seen, and observed.

That album is "All Day", and it just might be the best Pietasters album, ever.

From the soulful overture, "Change My Ways" to the hard-boiled finale, "G to F", the common theme throughout "All Day" is retro, retro, retro. Practically every one of the 14 tracks seems laboriously hand-crafted. This album has been 5 years in the making and the quality shows.

The best news out of "All Day" is that after practically sitting out "Turbo", Ska is back on a Pietasters' album. If you've downloaded the 3 free songs from their website, then you've already heard "Don't Wanna Know". If you like that song, I'm confident you're going to like "Triflin", which has a steady horn line layered over Toby Hansen's frenetic guitar work. "Anj Gil", named after their stage manager Andy Gilmartin, is a ska instrumental that features Jeff Wright (from James Brown's Soul Generals) on alto sax and Jon Darby on the electric organ.

There are 5 Soul/Rock tracks on "All Day". The aforementioned "Change My Ways" is my favorite. "Fozzy" is the most James Brown-inspired. "So Long" is very reminiscent of a 1960's Rolling Stones. "Keep On Lyin" is comparable to "Set Me Up" from "Turbo". "Ordinary" is just that: ordinary. The sole weak track on the album.

Perhaps the most surprising attribute of "All Day" is that out of 14 tracks, 6 are Reggae. And the good news is that I found these tracks much better than say "Higher" or the cover of "Mellow Mood" off of "Turbo". If "Triflin" is my favorite track, "G to F" is my second favorite with "Late Night Call" in my Top 5. It was also nice to see former keyboardist, Jeb Crandall, make a contribution to the album with "Sketch Dub". "Dream Of You" , "Oolooloo", and a cover of Tom Petty's "Listen To Her Heart" round out the reggae tracks.

A lot of what makes "All Day" successful has got to be credited with bassist, Jorge Pezzimenti.
Steve Jackson may be the vocalist, but throughout this album, it's Jorge who put the words to paper, penning 8 tracks himself and co-writing another 4! But it is also evident that "All Day" was a group effort. The horns have never sounded better with great solos peppered throughout by trombonist, Jeremy Roberts, trumpeter Carlos Linares, and Alan Makranczy on saxophone.
And it bears special note that guitarist Toby Hansen and drummer Rob Stewart can switch between ska, soul, and reggae with ease, despite that each three genres are quite different.

"All Day" is a great album well worth the 5 year wait. Personally, I would have dropped "Ordinary" and just gone with 13 tracks. But who knows...maybe The Pietasters have triskaidekaphobia.

"All Day" is available for pre-order on their website, or coming August 21st to a record store near you!

-Andrew Lyons

1 comment:

What do you think?