While countless rockers started their careers in the New York suburb of Long Island before going on to worldwide success (Billy Joel, Twisted Sister, Steve Vai, Brian Setzer, Blue Öyster Cult, etc.), there have been countless acts that appeared poised for a breakthrough, but for whatever reason, fell short. Many longtime followers of Long Island-based rock would probably agree that tops on the "woulda/coulda/shoulda" list were the Good Rats, a group who played at some of the East Coast's best-known/biggest venues (Madison Square Garden, Nassau Coliseum, the Philadelphia Spectrum) during the '70s, while opening for such big names as Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, the Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen, Kiss, Journey, Heart, Styx, Meat Loaf, and Rush, among others…
The aptly titled and much-sampled Feels So Good represents the creative apex of Grover Washington, Jr.'s sublime electric funk sound. Its shimmering, soulful grooves refute the argument that smooth jazz is little more than mere ambience, combining expert playing and intricate songwriting to create music that is both compelling and comforting. Arranger Bob James is in top form here, creating the spacious, rich milieus that are his trademark, but regardless of the name above the title, bassist Louis Johnson is the real star of the show. His supple rhythms percolate like coffee, adding oomph to the bottom of highlights "Hydra" and "Knucklehead" while Washington's cream-and-sugar soprano sax solos soar over the top.
To open this oddball supergroup's debut, Paul Simonon hints at "Guns of Brixton," and when Tony Allen's flex rhythms come in, there's a shadow of Fela Kuti, too. Then Damon Albarn's slow grit of a voice enters–framed by Simon Tong's flecked guitar. And collectively, The Good, the Bad, & the Queen is quickly sui generis, adamantly different than anything you think you've heard. A band with this much power has at least two options: to cut loose raucously or to mute their overt power for a more covert, dub-inflected atmospheric potency. Smartly, Albarn and his crew opt for the half-light of elastic bass lines, the clouds between the parentheses of drums–the covert. It's not until "Kingdom of Doom," the erstwhile 'single' of the album, that motion expands beyond the languorous. And even then, Tony Allen largely sits out. You get the full flush of Simonon and Allen on "Three Changes" shuffling time even while holding the tempo to a dubbish gait. It's not Blur, the Clash, Fela, the Verve, or Gorillaz. It's more than just names on albums.
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection
My entry to ”Traffic” was the single that was released from this live album. It was clearly labelled ”Traffic” and it was of course the great rendition from the Spencer Davis Group: ”Gimme Some Lovin”.
Mason was back for a few live appearances and two songs out of his first album are featured in this live testimonial (”Sad And Deep As You” and ”Shouldn’t Have Took More Than You Gave”). But even if the latter is particularly very much soul oriented, the final guitar part is so good, that I ended up by liking this one.