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Published: 2001/10/19
by Paul Pearson

self-titled – Barbuda

A lot of university communities spawn jambands, but not all
can keep them together. Rutgers University in New
Brunswick, New Jersey claims five members of Barbuda — a high energy
combo that’s doing well so far. Barbuda’s self-titled EP gives
us a good shot of their brand of 70s influenced funky rock
featuring the budaful vocals of Ranjit Arapurakal.
The best comparisons I can make are to Deep Banana Blackout
and Wise Monkey Orchestra: this is jazz, funk, rock and soul
with some island spice. One minor difference, is that both DBB and
WMO have female lead singers. Barbuda doesn’t. I say this
difference is minor, because the voice can fool you. If the
lyrics weren’t first-person male and I didn’t look at the picture
on the website, I might not have known. Arapurakal’s vocal
range is in the high end, but it’s right on.
Bamf starts the disc trying to work a chick, and you
gotta believe it’s a badass mofo — grooves hard, funky and
jazzy with horns (Nick Afflitto on trumpet and Dan Ross on sax)
and I like the line "I know I ain’t seen an ass like that walkin’
round this part of town". It’s a good choice to start the disc: up-tempo
and really captures the energy of the band. If
Only is more of an emotional plea, with Ross’s alto getting
the spotlight for a short solo. Damien Peter’s bass
provides more than just a rhythm. The fast salsa/jazz groove
of Ce Matin is sung in fluent French by Arapurakal,
who also adds keys. The final song on this EP is Ariel,
which starts off with someone asking Peter Lacis to turn down
his guitar as he lays down the wah-funk. Had the backing
vocals done a bit more, and Mark Lacis’s percussion been
turned up, I’d have enjoyed this one more, but judging from the
building jam at the end, it is probably best served live.
All in all, this is a promising first disc from a promising band.
The recording lacks some warmth, and the production has
some rough edges. But they successfully conveyed their on-
stage energy and got me interested enough to check out that
funky groove if I get the chance. Typical of other bands in this
vein, the rhythm and movements are tight, and the compositions
are solid. I definitely think these guys from Jersey got
something going that you should check out.

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