CD: Vicious Jimmy’s “Relatively Dangerous”

Vicious Jimmy: Relatively Dangerous
Review by Eric Gleason

Vicious Jimmy’s new album “Relatively Dangerous” drops this week, and if the release party at Red Square in Albany on Saturday night lives up to the promise of this CD, you’re going to be induced to drink mightily, and you’re going to be shakin’ your booty… even if you have no rhythm. This is the kind of music that brings the freak out of the shyest person, and the combination of this music, the booty shaking and an adult beverage or two really does have the potential to be relatively dangerous.

This is old-school funk the way it was meant to be played, with a little bit of straight rock thrown into the groove occasionally. Most of the tracks are guitar-driven, with Tim Fiato’s organ floating through the mix so subtly that you might not always hear it without concentrating, but it fills out the sound so completely that the tracks would sound empty without it. Fiato does get a chance to stretch out, though, and when he does you’d swear that you’re listening to a B-3 master from 40 years ago.

In fact, the whole album sounds like it could have been recorded in the late ’70s, maybe as part of an organized underground resistance to disco. Tom Kretzler’s vocals have an off-the-beaten-path quality that suits the music and the lyrics perfectly. His vocals are often delivered in a staccato, syncopated way that mimics the best of funk and early rap, with a little bit of a ragged and irreverent style that adds a little punch to the music. The backing vocals sound like a funk army ready to kick your ass if you don’t get in line with the groove.

A band like this would be nothing without the right rhythm section, and Vicious Jimmy has found it in Jeff Jukes on bass and Gary Nowik on drums. These guys hit the groove on the first track and keep it going through the whole album. Sometimes light, sometimes heavy, always funky, they define the term “dynamics” in a rhythm section.

The guitars laid down by Sloan Tash and Tom Kretzler on these tracks are exactly what you need in a good funk album. They’re not afraid to pull out the wah-wah pedals, but they don’t rely on them, letting good old-fashioned syncopated riffs define the feel in most of the songs. The result is an album that leaves you wanting to listen to it over and over again.

Vicious Jimmy celebrates the release of “Relatively Dangerous” with a party and performance at Red Square in Albany on Saturday (June 9). Florence opens the show at 9pm.

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