With his second album ‘Keep It Unreal’ Stockport’s Mr Scruff wascatapulted from the murky backrooms of Manchester’s club scene onto a globalstage, it’s eclectic mix of hip-hop, funk, jazz, and everything and anythingelse to hand, combined with its refreshing humour quickly turned it into oneof the great leftfield albums of the last decade, so much so evenMadonna was to be found singing it’s praises.
Three years and several hundred gigs later, Mr Scruff is finally ready todrop his third album, ‘Trouser Jazz’ the album kicks off with the big andbrassy ‘Here We Go’, the next proper single ‘Sweet Smoke’ follows, a heftyslab of dancefloor funk, insistent stabs laid over a funky trumpet refrain,some stomping house tempo beats and swirling organ keys, it’s tailor madefor clubs of a sunnier disposition. The ’70s fusion vibe is amplifiedon ‘Beyond’, which features the languid vocals of label mate Seeming To.Over a running snare and hi-hat singer Seeming purrs – it could be theopening theme to a Blaxsploitation science fiction film.
‘Shrimp’, the first single released off the album, is a tasty slice ofjazz-disco over a pulsing disco bass. Scruff lets loose with the funkiestMoog workout you’ll hear this year, like Herbie Hancock getting busyin the studio with Chic. The tempo and my interest drops with thedull ‘Come Alive’, though. It’s not that its scatty vocals and parping bass lineare that bad, but I could reach into my record collection and dig out ahundred similar songs.
Vocalist Seeming returns on ‘Valley of the Sausages’ to hum, mumble andmoan over Sneaky from Fingathing‘s bass and cello, and Moss’ flute. Alittle Jazz Club in places, its virtue of not taking itself seriouslykeeps it from descending into self-parody. Whether ‘Come onGrandad’ will succeed in persuading an army of octogenarians to reach fortheir jazz trousers and break out some moves on the dancefloor remains tobe seen, but its bouncy, broken beats should at least find favour with thosestill in possession of their own hair and teeth.
The quirk factor is upped on ‘Vibrate’, featuring the home-grown raptalent of Braintax, a chugging hip-hop tune seemingly built from theremains of an German oom-pah band. Album closer ‘Ahoy There!’ is a shuffling seashanty overlaid with maritime TV soundbites. Depending on your views on thissort of thing it’s either a joke too far or just what you’ve been waitingthe whole album for.
All in all, it’s a solid album, not as likely to inspire devotion as hislast one managed, but still with enough quality moments to definitely makeit a worthwhile purchase. Maybe next time just a little less jazz and a bitmore trouser please.