IT’S A GOOD week for local music that starts with a new jointpop album on Monday and ends with David Rudder’s 6.5 birthday concert on Saturday – and David Rudder is the kind of local musical company jointpop deserves to keep.
From their first “calypso rock” album, Port of Spain Style, through their magnum opus, Exile Baby, to From Trinidad with Love – the new album available for download from today – jointpop has served up one excellent album after another.
An honest reviewer can therefore only express a preference for one – mine is Exile Baby – while recognising that almost all the songs on all the other albums are almost as good (again, very much like David Rudder).
Name the title track off Exile Baby as the band’s best soul-ballad and you can match it with Man Dog Millionaire off The Pothounds. Start to hum Exile Baby’s I Hate Entertainment and you could segue into Simply Beautiful from the Quicksand album.
From Trinidad with Love presents similar problems: every song is great; ah-gain! The album, made with the assistance of Music TT and once more produced by Paul Kimble, of the American alternative band Grant Lee Buffalo, opens with a great big boast of a song, (I Am) The World’s Most Interesting Man, a hearty welcome and a musical tour de force with lead singer Gary Hector’s clever-cynical lyrical twist: Step right up for a glimpse of the king/ Tonight, I’ll show you the ma n, he only drinks Vat 19/ He can drink it from the bottle, he can drink with “no hands”/ And then he turns into the Interesting Man. If The Band hadn’t composed, Life is a Carnival, they could have opened their fourth album, Cahoots, with this song. From there, it just gets better – the next song is the pop-headbanger Amplify the first video off the album. (The video is yet another great production by yet another great Trinidadian artist, and longstanding friend of the band, Walt Lovelace.) If it didn’t amount to an oxymoron, you could say that every song following is exceptional; certainly Beauty on a Budget makes the listener sit right up when Damon Homer’s guitar comes screeching in; I cannot think of another lead guitarist whose playing contributes so much to a band’s sound in such relatively short solos, other than, perhaps, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter on the first three Steely Dan albums.
Homer has been throwing in a lick or two to make a song perfect since jointpop began 20 years ago. He shines brightly on From Trinidad with Love. Similarly, Dion Camacho’s beefy-sensitive drumming, Phil Hill’s striking keys and Jerome Girdharrie’s Bill Wyman-bass round out the sound. If Homer and Hector are the nucleus, Camacho, Hill and Girdharrie are the electrons and the protons that hold the atomic power of jointpop together – but it is when they come together that their energy is unleashed; and, in Paul Kimble, the band has found a producer who has their nuclear codes. Whether it is the punk-pop flash of Give Me Life, the rent-a-tile, bossa-nova groove of Berlin Belle or the wailing rocker-ballad, Vienna Moon, the musicians in the band listen to one another as they play almost like jazzmen.