By Chris Ricci
It’s pretty hard to deny the pure instrumental bliss and entertainment that encapsulates the funk genre. My first personal funk experience came in 2009 when I saw George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars play in Boston. Before the show, I would safely say I thought I was pretty familiar with the music of both Parliament and Funkadelic. However, watching the five minute tunes I knew by heart turn into 17 minute mind-boggling experiments both instrumentally and visually was as unexpected as it was welcomed. With this in mind, I’ve come to accept the fact that there are two kinds of funk: there’s the limited funk you can hear on a CD or a record, and then there’s the live funk where the musical beast really stretches its claws. If Big Ol' Dirty Bucket’s mastery of the album-based funk on their sophomore album is testament to their prowess, then the sky is the limit when it comes to their free-form abilities.
The brilliance of the group is noticeable early-on in their production. The balance of the instrumentation and vocals on “Bucket Express” stress the undeniable fact that Big Ol’ Dirty Bucket are a summation of their parts. The cascading horns blend almost too perfectly with the beautifully tuned guitar (most noticeably on “Boss Hogg”), to the point where it’s even hard for me to decipher which one is which. The same goes for the keys and bass guitar work; the synthesis between the two is eerily reminiscent between Bernie Worrell and Cordell Mosson in Parliament, both booming and low, but fluid and impossibly rhythmic.
The playful and inviting lyrics on “Bucket Express” are only intensified by the wonderful delivery of the vocals. Lil’ Shrimp’s powerful vocals harkens the likes of Gloria Gaynor, Tina Turner, and Grace Jones and carries the already flawless instrumentation to a different level of funkiness. This being said, the closing track “Vidalia” features her at the top of her vocal game, and serves as one of the best album closers in recent memory. Big Daddy Disco’s complexity and speed is reminiscent of The Roots’ Black Thought (most notably on the titular track), and provides an excellent vocal balance that is sadly absent in most contemporary funk
It’s, honestly, quite hard to rank any one aspect of “Bucket Express” higher than another. The auteurist instrumentation highlighted by Big Ol’ Dirty Bucket is balanced in a way that forces the listener to accept all the parts that make the whole, and it’s honestly quite genius. This, combined with two inherently different but similar vocal styles, creates a funk experience that would make George Clinton jealous. In short, “Bucket Express” is a must-listen for not only fans of funk, but fans of fun music in general. However, as stated earlier, there’s two ways to really dig the funk: in the studio, and live. Even at 59 minutes, “Bucket Express” seems short; but, after a few listens, it’s clear that many of these tunes were meant to be heard loud, and heard live. That is where the true talent of Big Ol’ Dirty Bucket lies.
Long live the funk!
JUST ANNOUNCED! The official album release party for 'Bucket Express' will be on Halloween night in Salem MA. at the newly refurbished Ames Hall right in downtown Salem. This show will also feature Danny Bedrosian's Secret Army with members of Parliament Funkadelic!
Tickets and information can be found HERE