To expand and expound on what’s been done in music (or any art form) is admirable if the reiteration takes the art to a new place. But when the attempt to build upon something falls short, the outcome comes across as more rehash than renewal. That, unfortunately, is the case with All Good Funk Alliance’s new album, Jacks of All Trades.
I’ll be honest, my initial reaction from the very first track, “Motivate,” was to doublecheck the release date of this album. I knew it couldn’t be current. Clearly, Okayplayer must want me to review a throwback album from the eighties, I thought. I was wrong. It’s a brand new album, but the sound is thirty years old. Now, I know a resurgence of eighties music is in full swing, but these synthesized sounds are the exact sounds used back then. The cheesy tone of electronic drum kits and Casio keyboards fill every nook and cranny of the first song, reminding the listener of the worst parts about that era. There are moments when it feels super-electronic, adding a touch of Daft Punk to the mix. But that’s the thing — Daft Punk already does that. And they do it better.
That pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the album. Track two. “Mr. Hipnoid” sounds like a warmed over remake of Young MC’s “Bust A Move.” The drum and bass, the rap cadence, the girl singing on the hook — all Young MC. Track three. “Throw Down,” sounds from the first few bars like E.U.’s go-go classic, “Doin’ the Butt.” That old school tinny go-go drum groove we see again in “Go-Go Bananas,” which, by the way has an extraordinarily similar bass line to “Freaks Come Out At Night” (see what’s happening here?).
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention “In The Rain,” a song with spanish flavor. Though I don’t speak or understand spanish, I can almost guarantee this isn’t a jam for the spanish community, and to be honest it seems a bit out of place for this album. But they did name the title Jacks of All Trades, so I guess this is an exposition of another trade.
To continue a track by track breakdown would just come across as mean or derogatory. To make a long story short, Jacks of All Trades is a time machine that takes us back to an era wherein, if AGFA was actually around, they would’ve gotten lost in the fold, because their reworks do not stand up to the originals, even at their corniest. These guys are NOT talentless. Just off base. But the fact remains that All Good Funk Alliance doesn’t succeed in presenting something good. Or funky.
- Jason Reynolds