Arrested Development: 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of… (Cooltempo/Chrysalis)

‘Man’s Final Frontier’; ‘Mama’s Always On Stage’; ‘People Everyday’; ‘Blues Happy’; ‘Mr. Wendal’; ‘Children Play With Earth’; ‘Raining Revolution’; ‘Fishin’ 4 Religion’; ‘Give A Man A Fish’; ‘U’; ‘Eve Of Reality’; ‘Natural’; ‘Dawn Of The Dreads’; ‘Tennessee’; ‘Washed Away’.

WHAT DO you get if you cross Sly Stone with hip-hop with Afrocentricity with Greenpeace with extra doses of hippy-dom whereever necessary? Frankly, I wouldn’t be too sure, but if I had to hazard a guess, I’d point a finger at hillbilly hip-hoppers Arrested Development and suggest that you try them on for size. If the likes of the harmonica grooved bluesy funk of ‘Mama’s Always On Stage’, the quirky De La Soul like ‘Mr Wendel’ and the pounding brassy chanted ‘Tennessee’ (which samples Prince saying the title word from his ‘Alphabet St.’) are anything to go by I’d say the fit is a good one, a very good one.

Not only are Arrested Development refreshingly different from the masses musically but lyrically they address the problematic philosophies of the Baptist Faith on the busy ‘Fishin’ 4 Religion’, the need for a social revolution on ‘Give Man A Fish’, a rap based around a groove not too dissimilar from Sly’s ‘Thank You For Lettin’ Me Be Mice Elf’, and negative attitudes within the black community on ‘People Everyday’.

Speech is the main writer and leader of this merry band of funksters and he, along with his crew has managed to weave together an engaging and musically colourful collection which is refreshing left of the masses. ‘Natural’, a mellow slice of day-glo seduction, with touches of Prince at his most ambient and the mystical semi religious ‘Wasted Away’ keep the set heading forever left.

More power to ’em. (Rating: 8)

© Jeff LorezBlues & Soul, 19 May 1992

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