The Budos Band II
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Like the deadly scorpion of the album's cover, The Budos Band's second release, The Budos Band II, creeps stealthily over the hot desert sand. It is with unmistakable purpose that each beat of the music drives forth, one footstep of many to carry the Scorpion toward its meaning. With his tail arched high in readiness, he maneuvers patiently under the scorching desert sun and chooses his prey. He strikes without warning and with out remorse. The venom of his sting, true to its reason; his victim, ever-intoxicated. With its twenty-two legs, three horns, and hallucinogenic venom, The Budos Band (the unheralded emperors of Instrumental Staten Island Afro-Soul) continue to rule. The band commands their listeners to follow them on their second journey into the depths of their poisonous vision. While their debut album was itself heralded as a groundbreaking exploration of funk, afro-beat and soul music, few could predict that their second effort would not only match but surpass the realm of mind-expansion embodied on their first sessions. Through ten exciting new instrumentals recorded live at Daptone's House of Soul in Bushwick, Brooklyn, The Budos Band pours themes at once resonant and ethereal over Herculean rhythms. Standard Jewel Case.
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My only complaint - which keeps me from awarding the full 5 stars - is still the organ. This time Mr. Deller has upgraded from whatever sorry piece of junk he was using on the first album, to a vintage Farfisa ... he plays it well, but the Farfisa has a transistorized, electronic, synthy-plastic sound far more suited to psychedelic rock than to afro-beat and soul jazz. In this genre my ear really wants to hear the gutsy, grinding tone of an overdriven Hammond B-series organ. The Farfisa sound (though better than the previous organ) was a poor fit and dragged the mix down from the perfection to which it aspired.
Anyway, that's my opinion. The fact is, the Budos Band gets better every time I listen, and if they keep improving, maybe the third time will be the charm. Please, Budos, try again! I may be a critic but I'm also a fan. These guys are doing stuff I wish I could do.
But the Budos Band's latest offering is just that - aces above the rest. It's a real burner, with more horns than you could ever hope for, sounding wickedly devilish yet bright and ebullient. At times it even sounds like the quality 'Ethiopiques' CD series. Don't sleep on this - you won't be able to STOP listening to it. I enjoyed their first release, but II pushes them into the realm of brilliance. Their take on 'My Girl,' never one of my favorite songs, is stunning.