KPM 1000 series - THE BIG BEAT Volumes 1 & 2



Gosh, I'm good to you. As many of you enjoyed the review of AFRO ROCK I thought I'd pitch in with a review of the other two volumes released in 2007 by Tummytouch.

THE BIG BEAT Volume 1

This showcases the compositions and arrangements of two library music heavyweights from 1969 - the legendary Alan Hawkshaw and Keith Mansfield. Mansfield provides six of the sixteen tracks here and kicks off in fine style with 'Exclusive Blend' a tremendously infectious mix of stabbing brass, meandering organ riffs and a cascade of drums and tom toms that will have you tapping away instantly. Hawkshaw then follows up with a tune that should be familiar to Dave Allen fans as 'Studio 69' was used as the theme on his comedy show in the 1970s. Again, Hammond organ and fat brass sections are to the fore in typical Hawkshaw jazz stylings and a brass hook that's complimented by more organ riffs and great rhythms. Fab.

Hawkshaw then provides a series of jazzy compositions that evoke subterranean late 60s nightclubs, all cigarette smoke and bizarre rotating oil lamp things that threw very psychedelic patterns on many a club wall. They show off Hawkshaw's mastery of the Hammond with 'Work Out', 'Rocky Mountain Runabout' and 'Beat Me 'Til I'm Blue'(a particular highlight) all now regarded as Hawkshaw classics with that unmistakable mix of brass, Hammond and fuzzy guitars. 'Roving Reporter' is just so incredibly groovy and funky and again shows off Hawkshaw's skillful playing and arranging.

Mansfield rejoins the album with 'Teenage Travelogue' which is much more laid back and loungey if you like that kind of thing. Thoroughly pleasant soft jazz picked out with a pulsing organ riff and some lovely persussion it then ascends the heights with a very gorgeous flute section. Quite sublime. 'Teenage Ton Up' is a sort of more up tempo sequel, moves quite fast, still has the breathy flute sections and drives along with an organ riff in the middle. Then its organ and flute together for the end section. Great.

Three more Hawkshaw tracks follow, again more Hammond with a jazz/blues inflection that seem to conjure up those old Saint Bruno tobacco adverts (showing my age now) with 'Delivery Date', 'A Touch Of Nonsense', 'Man On The Move' and 'Debsville' running the gamut of laid back jazz, latin and blues.

The final Mansfield tracks include 'The Mexican DJ' a quintessential late 60s piece of jazz with flaring fat brass lines, tinking and bouncy latin percussion and a very infectious groove. Quite fabulous music that makes you want to shimmy round the room. His bow out is 'Red Square Stomp' which is described as 'Cossack Samba' on the sleeve and it certainly is, coupled with a sort of Ipcress File espionage undercurrent.

Buy it, you'll love yourself forever.

THE BIG BEAT Volume 2

All the compositions on Volume 2 are from Alan Moorhouse and hail from 1972. Not perhaps as well known as Hawkshaw and Mansfield but it doesn't matter as these are lovely compositions. 'That's Nice' opens the album with a stabbing organ section and a moody, loungey feel that reminds me of the Pet Shop Boys song 'Nothing Has Been Proved' written for the late great Dusty Springfield. But it is the guitar work on this album that makes it special and 'West Coastin' 'Pop Pastime' and 'Boss Man' (with flamenco to the fore) all have great guitar and organ sections and are pulsating with wonderful hooks and riffs. Fabulous drums and piano on 'Soul Skimmer' are again joined by twangy guitars and by now you should have pushed the sofa back and should be shaking your stuff on the living room floor.

'Heavy Bopper' should ensure that you remain on the floor for longer than you anticipated but 'Angelic Gas' with its acoustic guitar and trembling organ gives you time to ease back. The organ work on this is rather cool. 'Expo In Tokyo', featured in many library compilations over the years is very tongue in cheek funk, Laurie Johnson style bass line, and great piano flourishes. Not very PC with its Japanese riffs but it's beautifully constructed driving funk.

Bit of country influence on the next track inevitably with a title like 'Nashville Country' but the guitars are to die for. Moorhouse carries this through to 'Hillbilly Child' which has echoes of the film 'Deliverance' for me. This ends with a bit of good ol' rockin' on 'Rock It Again' with some sweet organ swirls in the background, boogie woogie piano on 'Rockin' Boogie' and the trembling mandolins, guitar and organ on 'Pop Mandolin' chill things down nicely. The closer is the utterly bonkers 'Psychodale' which is a wig-out jamming session of screeching and wah-wah guitars and shimmering organ that's very Hendrix inspired. Makes you want to get your kaftan and love beads out. Superb. Essential purchase.

SOUND BOOTH Review of De Wolfe's Music Sampler Vol. 2 here: Bite Hard - De Wolfe Sampler

KPM Music Recorded Library - The Big Beat (Tuch1044CD) The Big Beat Volume 2 (Tuch1067CD)

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