Picks and Pans Review: Aftershock

updated 05/01/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/01/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Average White Band

Funk music? It's a groove thang. If you've got that rhythmic gift and a little melodic serendipity, then you've got it made. But the unlikeliest possessor of that charmed musical commodity in recent times was the Average White Band. Not only are they white, they're from Scotland, a locale not exactly known as Motown-on-the-Moors. Yet this horn-driven funk band lit up the charts in the 1970s with such hits as "Pick Up the Pieces" and "Cut the Cake." Now the band makes a strong comeback with its first LP in eight years, released on a small Seattle label. Original members Alan Gorrie, Onnie McIntyre and Roger Ball are joined by journeyman singer Alex Ledgerwood, who has made previous stops with Santana and Brian Auger's Oblivion Express. (Drummer Robbie Macintosh also played with Auger before becoming a founding member of the Average White Band in 1974. Macintosh died of a drug overdose soon thereafter.)

The new AWB lineup has its stuff together. For example, "The Spirit of Love" and "Sticky Situation" are sharp, dynamic and funky. The band doesn't subscribe to the wall-of-horns theory anymore though. They're relying on a single saxophone (often overdubbed) choicely played by Ball. The record's slower material, like "Let's Go All the Way," is pretty soulful, but it's not as impressive as when the band breaks into a funky trot. After all this time and attrition, this group still has a felicitous penchant for getting it right into the pocket. (Track Record)

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