Album Review: Smoove / ‘First Class’ (Jalapeno)

★★★★☆

Here’s how UK funksmith and soul governor Jonathan Watson breaks down the remix: Traditional values are king, but applying new shine is great when you’ve got the knowhow. High fun content should be involved (Third Degree’s cover of Kylie’s biggest brain-bug is a great icebreaker), and heart and soul should be everpresent. Funk and hip-hop with a pinch of Latin will rebound off one another, and though there is a respect for the refined, make for way phat drums: no kicks or snares on diets please, so says “Boogaloo Stomp.” Knowing his way around body contours, from B-boy biomechanics to female anatomies, plumpness of basslines, soul of vocal and the ‘liveness’ of performance has jams like the densely layered “Witness” sounding like Smoove has gotten a whole posse involved to re-shape the raw ingredients – and as per “Message from the King,” these ingredients are r-a-w.

While 15 exclusives and vinyl only-cuts narrow the line between having range and having a different remix for everyone, Smoove is never caught sneaking away from the party early. “King of Latin Rhythm” sounds like it could go on all night long, and anything involving Afrika Bambaataa is gonna be the first to arrive and last to leave. “It’s My Funk,” a highly fly disco-house group hug, also shows call and response will never go out of style. Your New Year’s Eve soundtrack is now taken care of.

File under: The New Mastersounds, John Turrell, Boca45

Matt Oliver