Herb Alpert: North On South St. (A&M 395 345-2)

‘Jump Street’; ‘It’s The Last Dance’; ‘Passion Lady’; ‘North On South St.’; ‘Paradise 25’; ‘Na Na Na’; ‘Funky Reggae’; ‘Where’s Tommy’; ‘City Terrace’; ‘I Can’t Stop Thinking About You’.

“ANOTHER HERB Alpert album”, I thought. “More safe west coast fusion Muzak”, I thought. “This is really rather good”, I thought once I’d heard it. Herb’s music has taken a turn for the better and he’s suddenly got himself some serious, upfront dancefloor, hip-hop drum arrangements, to go with his melodic and often quirky trumpet playing. It’s not even as if we’re talking bland west coast radio-format swingbeat. This is really what fusion in the ’90’s should sound like.

‘Jump Street’ drops you off in the right direction as the album begins, entwining some fluid fusion, courtesy of the trumpet and piano with a cool shuffled groove. A vaguely Soul II Soul groove, with percussive embellishments graces ‘It’s The Last Dance’, whilst ‘Passion Lady’ takes you into a house mode.

The title track is particularly strong, with the drum and bass pounding beneath interesting synth/keyboard sounds. More funky grooves and chants surround ‘Na Na Na’ and genuinely lively, Latiny ‘Funky Reggae’.

‘Where’s Tommy?’, with yet more heavy beats and a great Moog bassline is another strong slice of fusion, while the more ethereal, continental ‘City Terrace’, is matched with a vibrant dance groove. I’m impressed! (Rating: 8) 

© Jeff LorezBlues & Soul, 14 May 1991

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