Five Alarm Funk - Sweat

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For a band called Five Alarm Funk it's only appropriate that "Widowmaker," the opening track on Sweat, begins with horns mimicking a siren. The effect comes to a complete and dramatic close and then there are a couple of beats of silence, as if to say, "Okay, you've been warned!" "Widowmaker" then begins in earnest and it's a good thing it was preceded by the warning as the instrumental is a slice of scalding hot funk fusion. The band consists of two guitarists, a three-person percussion section, bass player and a three-person brass section featuring two saxes and trumpet, and the whole bunch work themselves into a froth on the frenetic "DDPP" while the title cut hints at a world music influence, perhaps a nod to a fondness for Afrobeat. "Capital City" is a slinky, streetwise strut, "Ill Wind" finds the band feeling irie and floating along on a reggae rhythm, "Freight Train" choogles like a well-oiled locomotive with guitar parts that again remind of West Africa, and "Hot Damn" is Latin-flavored funk where the congas and timbales players whip up a fiery mid-song beatfest. The music is so powerful here that it's easy to think of Sweat as an instrumental album but most songs have short bursts of vocals, with the anthemic "Power of Funk" being the most fun to sing along to, "May the power of funk compel you!" That notion totally comes to fruition with Sweat, and fans across North America can get even sweatier at a Five Alarm Funk live appearance as the band is on tour now through mid-August.

2-12" LPs, gatefold jacket - Grab your copy here.

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