It’s time to channel your inner Frank Sinatra, grab a partner, and hit the dance floor. Portland’s vintage jazz speakeasy band Inspirational Beets have recorded an album entitled Tops packed with 13 songs that sound like they would be found on a record left in a time capsule from the 1920s.
Interestingly, this is a live album, but rather than being a collection of live versions of songs previously recorded, the live show WAS the recording session. Thus, the whole thing is a one-take set.
Other than “Introductions” and “Ice Cream Five Foot Two,” the only indication that this is live is the cheering at the end of each song. The music itself is very clear and not affected by crowd interference. Each song has a brilliant mix of vocals, copious amounts of trumpet, an exciting bass line and expressive percussion. The whole album exudes the vibe of being in a parlor or saloon in the 1920s and at many different points, inspires you to get up and dance (particularly with a partner). “Exactly Like You” is a fine example of the spirit of dance here. Fans of the great Django Reinhardt will appreciate this one.
Each instrument gets its own special chance to shine at various times. The lyrics to “You Rascal You” are some of the funniest featured in a song in a long time. “Frankie and Johnny” features the skillful punctuation of the trumpet, which really gives the song character. Songs like “Tico Tico” and “Diga Diga Do” have exotic percussive rhythms, and were really fun to listen to. Previously mentioned “Ice Cream - Five Foot Two” offers each band member time to play a solo and you really understand the sheer amount of talent possessed by each one.
This album bleeds nostalgia, and sounds comfortingly familiar while remaining fresh and current at the same time. You can tell each musician has worked at his craft for a number of years, and have classic motivations coupled with the wisdom of playing music for a long period of time. You may not even think to listen to this sort of music on a regular basis, but this album was a well-curated work of art and is deserving of a listen.
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