Whilst this Bavarian album doesn't encourage Schuhplattler dancing, its fabulous funky beats forces its listeners to get down and boogie
If I did not know that this band was German, I would never have guessed it. So completely have they mastered the funk genre that they sound like they come from America in the ‘70s. But they really don’t – they’re from Munich in the ‘90s, and thus are progenitors of the genre we would now call retro-soul. The opening song sounds very much like something The Bar Kays would have released back in their funk heyday, and the rest of the album continues in this incredibly competent, very fun, enjoyable vein. But whenever this happens, I always end up feeling that a piece of their own country’s traditional music, even if it means singing in the native language (German, in this case) for one or two songs, should feature. I don’t want to be one of those unbearable Eurovision bores – you know the ones, the sort of person who says “it’s such a shame they all sing in English, back in my day they all sang in their own languages” – but in some ways, and I must stress only some, I agree with this hypothetical straw man of my own creation.
“It is another one of those albums that is so consistent it is hard to pick a best song in all honesty.”
For many groups from non-English-speaking countries, I understand that singing in English is a guaranteed way to ensure that more people will listen to your album. English has become a lingua franca in the modern world, and as such to reach a global audience, a sure-fire way of at least making your work accessible is to make it in English. And who knows, maybe some fancy American big shots in the music biz will hear it and ask you to come to America for a demo recording. This is just a fact of life, and as such, I can’t complain about it too much. Furthermore, music is often a shared cultural heritage, and people should be allowed to express themselves however they want, and if a band from Germany, or wherever, want to sing in English and adopt a style of music that they clearly love and are passionate about, that’s fine. It is impossible to deny that The Poets of Rhythm have succeeded in their goal of making a catchy, danceable funk album that sounds like authentic funk. That said, there isn’t a great deal to make it stand out from the crowd either, and perhaps a dash of local flavour or variety could have been the necessary inflection to make it a more impressive album.
Nevertheless, despite my minor criticisms, the album itself is irresistibly funky. I love funk music anyway, and this really is excellent funk. North Carolina is maybe the best song on the album, but to be honest they’re all very strong. It is another one of those albums that is so consistent it is hard to pick a best song in all honesty. There isn’t much separating Strokin’ the Grits, which I would consider maybe to be the weakest song, with the best two or three. If you like funk, you will definitely have a great time with this album. That said, it isn’t all upbeat funky tunes, however. Some songs are slower, more contemplative, like It Came Over Me. This allows for the album to be varied in its pacing, and thus not exhausting as some funk can be. There is little in terms of musical variety, and therefore if you find funk music a bit repetitive or simply isn’t your thing, I doubt there will be much in there for you, but if it is, you’ll have a whale of a time. Overall, the album is a cromulent ride through the funk genre by a bunch of German funk aficionados, and it is done to perfection.