When you think of it, these days it’s a hard thing for a lot of people to imagine what psychedelic funk might actually be. But back in the ’60s and ’70s, that combination was not so uncommon. Think of Sly & The Family Stone, George Clinton, and all his Funkadelic/Parliament incarnations. The Isley Brothers in their electric phase, and many others. Somehow that trend somehow subsided (if you forget about Prince or the early Red Hot Chili Peppers in the process), and made the genre cross-pollination somewhat poorer in the process.
Is such a combo up for a revival? We should hope so, and New York’s The Chris Ruben Band seems to be on that trail with their latest album, Madness on Repeat.
Making such a combination can be quite tricky if you don’t have the chops nor the knowledge of either of the genres. But the six-member band, who have been around since 2015, seem to have been honing their art throughout the band’s existence. You get the notion that they are on the right track the moment “Unsure” opens the album with its excellent rhythmic pace, covered in some understated frills.
“Won’t See You” and “Live Meltdown” add some good Hendrix/Isley Brothers guitar licks, while “Darling” adds some more current touches comparable to what Jamiroquai would sound like if he added psychedelic touches to his funk chops. And the consistency of the pace, sound, and quality continues throughout the 11 tracks here, with “Starfish” and “Tell Me Why” being particularly impressive.
Talking about the idea behind the album, the band themselves say that “Madness on Repeat is a reflection of the unforgiving turbulence of life on life’s terms. Just when you think it is going to let up, it doesn’t.” Maybe that is where those excellent guitar licks come from. But, for whatever reason, The Chris Ruben Band and their Madness On Repeat deliver some excellent psych-funk.
The Chris Ruben Band – ‘Madness on Repeat’ Reaction
The Chris Ruben Band keeps the psych-funk alive and well with 'Madness On Repeat.'