Pigbag: Year Of The Pigbag – album review
Pigbag: Year Of The Pigbag (Sugar Shack Records)
Thirty years after going their separate ways, Pigbag are back with a new album. Our man Paul Scott-Bates gives us his thoughts below.
Pigbag’s Got A Brand New Album!
This was very intriguing. Makers of one of the finest dance singles of the eighties (and one guaranteed to get everyone on their feet at the time) have reformed with founding members Chris Lee, Ollie Moore and Kofi Adu and bombed back to the studio to record nine new tracks in the shape of ‘Year Of The Pigbag’. The title is as adventurous as the sound of their debut single, but, we all know what happened to that.
Since those heady days of dancing like there’s no tomorrow, members of Pigbag have been playing with the likes of The Pogues, Neneh Cherry and the mighty Abyssisians, and, it would appear from the tracks on the new album, maturing a bit.
With track titles like ‘Cuban Rice (Is Very Nice)’ and ‘Jumpers For Goalposts’, their sense of humour clearly hasn’t deserted them and neither has their ability to crack out a good tune. The former opens the album with a dubbed horn and launches straight into, as the title would suggest, a Cuban beat with cool funky guitar and tinkling keyboards.
The sound quality of the recording is striking, crystal clear and the eight-piece could almost be sat over your shoulder, the hook is compulsive listening and the baritone saxophone is delightful. At over nine minutes long, it’s a quite brilliant start to the album.
The melody hooks on the album are probably as you’d imagine – rousing horn sections playing tunes that become unforgettable – ‘Disco Mama’ being no exception with its ’70s wah-wah guitar and bass reminiscent of ‘Car Wash’ or ‘Shaft’. There are hints of The Apples’ ‘Fly On It’ album from last year with the groovy horns brought right up to date in a modern day, almost clinical sounding, style.
Where the album goes slightly of the rails, is where Pigbag have obviously matured. Some of the tracks are far too long and become slightly pretentious. From the opening of ‘Out Of Chaos’ is an almost avant garde, freestyle sort of format. It’s not unlistenable, but, is very film soundtrack based, (and more forgettable), sounding more like a jazz jam session than a structured track. A case of too much too, with a couple of minutes that could have been quite easily shaved off. It’s s shame, and a lively horn section at the end is most welcome.
‘Beluga’ for me is just filler. It experiments and doesn’t really have any cohesiveness. It doesn’t really go anyway and could really have been left off the album.
What happens next though is marvellous, ‘Jumpers For Goalposts’ is a monster of a track, superb hook and great feel and possibly the natural progression from ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag’ for us 40-something year olds. Bootsy Collins would be proud of recording ‘Brains’, and the Black President himself, Fela Kuti, would be more than happy to have ‘Afrodite On The Horizontal’ to his name with the funkiest of funky basslines going on.
In summary, some diamonds and some dirt. When Pigbag fail to deliver, they barely glisten in the sun, but, when they shine, they shine brightly, and really come up with the goods. The year of the Pigbag? Possibly.
Paul has been working hard to save Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire, easily one of the best radio shows on the BBC. Follow him on twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news or follow his personal twitter, @hiapop.