Over the pond and through the funk . . .

That would be Sly Stone. Or if not, well, it's too easy a reference. Yes, this is an English band playing what is now considered old-school soul, but the time peg is just past the Motown glory days. As the band's web site URL points out, we're talking about funk and soul.

Crowd Company
Stone & Sky
(Vintage League)

Truly, this is more of a Funkadelic joint, given the dense feel of these songs. Whereas Sly was always careful to keep his sound simple and slinky (the horns and guitars rarely, if ever, bled together), Crowd Company revels in a seriously dank and dirty mix. The organ drenches just about everything, and that generally combines with the guitars and horns to create something of a stereo wall of sound.

The "classic" elements inform the sound, but there is something modern about the precision of the mess. Had this been attempted in 1970, nothing would be heard but mud. Modern production tools enable Crowd Company to create one of the headiest sonic palettes I've heard in some time.

Sometimes the feel overshadows the songs. Sometimes that's a good thing. But I will say that I have warmed to many of the tracks I wasn't as sure of on first listen. The complexity of the production makes multiple listens a treat. There's always another layer of the onion. And that is what made Sly such a master. Crowd Company's funk is something to behold.

Jon Worley

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