Following what was an overly success nationwide UK tour of 2019 Manchester’s funk, samba, indie heroes A Certain Ratio announced their first long player in over 12 years, ACR Loco. To be fully released via Mute Records at the end of this week, the music contained within see’s the band break fresh musical barriers whilst their familiar distinctive heavy bass, frunk break beat with sharp horns plus snappy guitar licks features thankfully as per the normal, the band continue their tour de force as being as legendary musically as their name repeatedly suggests.
43 years since they made their first inroads into the new wave soul scene the opening track Friends Around Us is slap bass happy whilst a soaring saxophone plays in and around the background Jez Kerr’s opening lines ‘what I think of you, what you think of me’ has that dazzling vocal drifting in and around you mind and soul just like an ACR tune of old, but this isn’t old, this is the new breed with an almost free form vibe mid flow, just as we like it, ACR breaking new barriers of exciting supersonic sounds, oh yes.
Bouncy, Bouncy sadly doesn’t included a free trampoline, but it should, so if you have one, get on it and get to the beat. There is an achingly sad but thought provoking upbeat vocal by the much missed Denise Johnson, ‘Let the rhythm take you’ Johnson sings sweetly into the microphone, the legendary vocalist who sadly passed away in the middle of the build up to ACR Loco being released, her vocals as featured are now a fitting swan song for the powerhouse soul singer.
Yo To Gi, the first single lifted from the album, has reverberations of Japan, where ACR spent some time whilst on their elongated tour of, well, everywhere. This rip roaring ACR classic captures the whole band being as tight as ever, with electro nods and nudges towards the likes of frequently played tunes in the hallowed walls of The Hacienda to wide eyed punters the whistles, echoing back and forth vocals, synths and what sounds like a 1001 people playing percussion its better than machine delivered. The human machines of 1m Dollar Man and in this guise ACR score every time.
Similar diverse deep soul shuffles are included on Supafreak with a guest vocal by Gabe Gurnsey, Always In Love is your end of the night catch your breath number with, the sort of electro number 808 State would mix into their long players. Family see’s Denise Johnson take centre stage again crying out for unity whilst Kerr gets slap happy on the bass again. Sink Ya Teeth were a great addition to the ACR live line up back in 2019, sounding like distant relations to ACR its little wonder Maria Uzor features on Get a Grip, a sassy piece of soul funk with Moscrop giving it all on the wah wah guitar.
My personal favourite track on the album is Berlin. It reminds me of past ACR classics in The Big E, Good Together and Here She Comes Again. A simple but more than effective groove features pretty drum patters whilst the rest of the band saunter easily through the gears into top draw groove patterns as sumptuous as hearing a new James Brown track with Bootsy on bass. The best!.
What’s Wrong would be a fitting inclusions on a Bruton electro piece of library. Chitter, chattering voices echo back and forth as more addictive funk guitar breaths atmosphere and swaths of spacious musical overtones are a gratifying feature. The final piece of the jigsaw is Taxi Man, featuring Mike Joyce, the song sounds like its happy enough to carry on for the next 12 years until we might get another ACR belter. Brazilian overtones are strong and it’s as good as a Si Firmir O Grido reprise, just the sort of anthem ACR will love at the close of a live set. 12 years in the making and ACR have produced the goods yet again, available on CD, cassette and limited edition coloured vinyl, all of which provides a glittering reason to purchase these superbly crafted goods and whack the volume up really high.
ACR Loco can be pre ordered via the following link