The presence of UK Funk Afro-Jazz combo Pigbag may have been a short burst of energised time in the early eighties but they certainly left a lingering and impacting legacy with their song Papa’s Got a Brand New Pigbag, a piece of music which has continued to bring agitated life to feet and emotions. Releasing two albums between 1980 and 1983 as well as touring extensively across Europe, Japan and the United States, the band disbanded in that final year due to musical differences. In its time the Bristol based band certainly brought a breath which invigorated and refreshed all areas from post punk to Jazz and funk to pop, their sound effortlessly find a welcome in a wide genre spawn and eager fan base. A band which apparently was banned from Top Of The Pops for trying to bring fun to their performance, Pigbag return thirty years later with their third album and certainly time has not dampened their creative enthusiasm and potency to seize senses and limbs and make them join their vibrant cause.
The band reformed in 2011 with founding members Chris Lee (trumpet) and Ollie Moore (saxes) as well as another original member in Kofi Adu (Congas/Percussion). Bringing in a quintet of new equally minded musicians in bassist Sven Atterton, guitarist Max O’Donnell, drummer John Sam, plus Karme Caruso and Matt Dowse, keys and trombone respectively, Pigbag has released an album which fuses nostalgia and brand new essences into one pleasing and engaging melody doused encounter. Released on Bristol imprint Sugar Shack Records, the album without really igniting the impetuous mischief and irresistibility of their renowned single, offers an elegantly and relatively subdued yet passionate presence across its the collection of tracks which inspires a rich affection and compulsive hunger as strong as their earlier triumphs so magnificently achieved.
The album opens with the delicious Cuban Rice (Is Very Nice), a stroll through a balmy Latin soundscape with the seductive lures of rhythmic temptation and the deeply contented blazes of horn persuasion. It is an addictive dance for heart and feet which across its enthralling presence caresses entice, and pulls emotions to their eager to jive toes. The picky guitar teases which mischievously work behind the melodic fires and golden harmonies also bring not for the first time on the album, a ska seeded fun whilst bass, drums and percussion, enlist an instinctive rapport from start to finish.
Through the shimmering strut of Disco Mama with its seventies funk boast and electrified breath, and the intriguing Out of Chaos, the release continues to trip all the right switches to magnetise the senses and attention their way. The second of the pair is an evocative mix of crystalline ambience and shadowed mystique which opens its suggestive arms into another warm and provocative embrace before handing over to the similarly heated Tabula Rasa and its sultry saunter through inviting hazy climes and reflective sounds.
Each track on the album has its individual character but together it feels like a connected travelogue of passion and sun soaked imaginative revelations. The energetic Beluga steps forward next to generously samba with the ear before stepping aside for the biggest highlight of the album to leave its thrilling touch upon the passions. Jumpers for Goalposts takes its seeds one senses from the signature tunes of football shows in the seventies, re-inventing their whispers into something impossibly addictive. With a ska base which reminds of The Specials song A Message To Rudy, the piece is a joyful and energetic playground for fun to bask in the warmth of innocent times and melodic laughter. It is a wonderful romp which holds the ear and thoughts long after it has physically left their shelter.
With the remaining Brains with its sophisticated persuasion, the picturesque Honeydew Lady, the song a canvas for lush colours and sounds to conjure a romance tinged image, and the closing Afrodite on the Horizontal which for no reason other than the name and its free form essence reminds of the work of art Tony Hancock was ‘creating’ in the movie The Rebel, the band leave emotions and passions entranced. The thought of the return of Pigbag alone raised a little excitement but Year Of the Pigbag just re-ignites all the pleasure and joy which marked them the first time around with a craft and invention which arguably is them at their best yet.
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