My America - Poogie Bell Review
Posted: 15th November, 2010
OK, lets not beat (no pun) about the bush I had quite high expectations of this album, given that Ive admired Poogies work for some time during his (still active) time with bass-meister Marcus Miller and numerous other jazz and soul luminaries including Stanley Clarke, Erykah Badou, Chaka Khan and Al Jarreau to name but a few. For someone who seems to have funky rhythm coursing through his veins, I really expected a master-class in funky drumming.
Having seen the man live a number of times and heard all of his clever rhythmical poundings on Marcus Miller songs such as Funny (All She Needs is Love) and the Weather Report cover Teen Town, its fair to say I expected at least one of the songs on My America to grab me by the bongos. I appreciate that being a great drummer isnt all about creating bombastic, ear-grabbing songs, but at least showcase some of your chops, dude! Just one solo is all I ask!!
With a title like My America and an inside cover featuring a Ku Klux Klan member being operated on by a number of black surgeons and nurses clearly fighting to save this guys life I was expecting a wee bit of social commentary, but that does not materialise. My America is actually Poogies second album, the first being Get on the Kit.
Opener Clap ur Hands sounds for all the world like a Bootsy Collins song with vocals provided by Will Smith. Neither Bootsy nor Mr Smith feature (I checked) on this laid-back groove. Hiram (presumably a tribute to the late American guitarist Hiram Bullock?) eschews vocals, letting a dirty bass, guitar and harmonica, along with a driving rhythm do the talking (singing). Starship features a slightly off-beat percussion and quite cheesy vocoded vocal line, with Sparks written by keyboard player and Marcus Miller regular Bobby Sparks being a fairly mellow funk fusion effort. A cover of the Stanley Clarke song Quiet Afternoon makes an appearance towards the end of the album and a pretty nice cover it is too, featuring a lazy rhythm complemented by a harmonica and nice sax solo. Another cover Ben (made famous by Michael Jackson in 1971) appears towards the end and is, well, its OK, but Im not a fan of the original, so it was hardly going to rock my world. The album is closed by the song One by One, featuring a kids chorus, and again, its an OK number.
Overall its not a bad album, but the acid test is: how often has the album found its way onto my CD player? And the answer to this is; very few.