Friday, May 16, 2008

Q: What Is Thicker Than Blood?

A: Oil!

With gas prices reaching all-time record highs and our approaching road-trip, it seemed only fitting to pay tribute to the single most problematic and irresponsible legacy of the past few generations . . . the oil industry.

It was a song from this interesting new album by a curious mix of individuals known as Saravah Soul that galvanized me into writing this post. The lead song, "Oil Is Thicker Than Blood", from their first self-titled album is a great mix of James Brown styled funk and traditional Brazilian percussion. The band is a mix of Brazilians and Brits based in London and this is one of my favorite tracks off of the album because more than others, this track is a compelling mixture of Brazilian and American Soul music much like the best examples of Brazilian soul music ala Dom Salvador, Tim Maia or Banda Black Rio.

Saravah Soul - Oil Is Thicker Than Blood
This album is a mixed bag for me. I've definitely been enjoying some of the tracks, but I think if anything its weakness is that its just too similar to James Brown in style that it doesn't bring enough new sounds to the table that makes the band stand out as unique and lasting. On a few cuts they really shine, going beyond a J.B.s with portuguese lyrics shtick, and this is one of those cuts and while I can't understand all of their political lyrics here I pretty sure I'm on board . . .

Tower of Power - Only So Much Oil In the Ground
In the subgenre of politico-funk, this track (and album) is in a class of its own. Just listen to the lyrics of this song and you'll hear just how relevant this song is more than thirty years later. I'll probably get around to highlighting ToP, but they are also distinguished recipients of the blue-eyed soul "Free Pass" as most of the horn section and band are of the Caucasian persuasion. It also seems fitting that ToP are from the East Bay/Oakland, our destination for our gas-guzzling road-trip that begins in a mere three weeks from today!

If you wanna know more about the relatively short history of the modern petroleum industry, check out this tomb of a book that I have started and stopped more than once and will continue to try to finish until one day I will get to the end of it.

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