Formed by English twins Scott and Ben Addison in the early 90s, the iconic acid jazz group Corduroy is back with their first new album in nearly two decades. It's a triumphant return to the top of a crop of exciting modern jazz groups in the UK. Don't miss The Return of the Fabric Four on the New Cool this Saturday!
From the start, the groove has been the key element of Corduroy. As many 90s acid jazz groups were clamoring for electronics, this group celebrates the then-modern sounds of the late 60s and early 70s analog keyboard crews. “Let’s be the band in the party scene in every film we’ve ever liked,” was their mantra from the beginning.
The sound of Corduroy owes more than a little debt to the brash, dramatic film scores of the 60s and 70s. The band's High Havoc album was even described as a "mythical spy movie soundtrack." Clever band costumes, sometimes in stereotypical black turtlenecks and goatees, further proved their love of striking visuals.
Eventually, their retro-mod popularity connected the group to the hot BritPop movement of the 90s, earning fans in the hit band Blur (and even joining them on tour). The new album's vocal feature "Saturday Club" is proof they still have chops to reach the Top of the Pops.
Their late-90s albums weren't as well received, and the band split up - with a few mixed line-up reunions and a couple of live albums in the past few years. It was a "compilation-box-set" tour that brought bassist Richard Searle and guitarist Simon Nelson-Smith back together with the Addison twins in 2013, and they quickly discovered that revisiting their back catalog wasn't enough to scratch their artistic itch. Considering the recent soundtrack boom, Corduroy is naturally in demand once more. On the new release, they don't disappoint.
The film score influences of Quincy Jones, Lalo Schifrin and Johnny Pate abound, and most of all it's obvious these cats are having a ball. Sassy cocktail samba grooves move into a kids' TV theme bounce, then a summery waltz into some suspenseful soul jazz.
On the New Cool this weekend, I'll feature the dramatic and thematic title song from Return of the Fabric Four. It's the "main theme" of the album: soul guitar and drums riff with electric bass to set up the rhythm, Hammond organ delivers the melody with a tasty guitar solo on top.
Front to back, it's a concise 3-minutes of bouncy jazz grooving. I imagine the opening credits rolling at the start of a film about young, freewheeling desperados trying to pull off a slightly silly crime caper. It's stylish, retro-but-not-antique, and above all a whole lot of fun.
That's just a bit of what we have for you on The New Cool every Saturday afternoon, I hope you'll join us for this week's exciting adventures!
The New Cool airs Saturdays from 3 to 5p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Wash.