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Published: 2010/10/04
by Chris Diestler

The Gig Is On

Lubricated Records

While some bands lately seem fine re-tooling their sound in the Fela Kuti vein (The Motet, Eufórquestra), Chicago’s Lubriphonic goes for the gold and taps the proto-funk of James Brown. Following their solid 2008 self-release “Soul Solution” with December’s “The Gig Is On,” they seem quite comfortable having staked territory in The Godfather’s camp with funky rave-ups and soulful ballads alike.

The first two tracks, “Rhino,” and “Under the Line,” play like a proclamation: if you don’t wanna dance, get the f**k outta the way. Especially impressive are three songs buried deep on the play list: “The Chicken Is Worth More Alive Than Dead,” “The Getaway,” and the searing title track, “The Gig Is On.” All are a call to booty-shaking action, and threaten to derail themselves with breakneck pacing, but hold together miraculously. They give the impression of being well-tested live favorites – in fact, the album overall plays like a well-chosen live set by tempering the frenzy with some sweet moments. Giles Corey’s Marvin-Gaye-via-Ben-Harper vocals anchor the soulful turns on “No Blues,” “Coming Together,” and “Speed Dial.” These three are the album’s best bets for radio play since they’re the most subdued; the latter features Dumpstaphunk bandleader Ivan Neville on keyboards.

Lubriphonic hooked up with Neville during a Jazz Fest gig, and got him in the studio when he was in town for the Chicago Blues Festival. Not to say that Dumpstaphunk isn’t creating some of the wildest, fattest, funkiest music around, but by the time Neville appears on tracks four through seven, he also seems superfluous. Lubriphonic has this s**t nailed down tight, closing the album with the supremely groovy “Pay the Man,” throwing in some heavy guitar for good measure on “Dope Man,” and ending triumphantly with what should be their motto: “Whatever You Do Don’t Stop.”

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