Stephen Morris reviews Cheltenham band The Bushy Tail

By Stephen Morris
Website contributor

image captionCheltenham band The Bushy Tail formed in 2010

Here are the names of some soul and funk acts for you: The Vern Blair Debate, James Polk and the Brothers, The Backyard Heavies.

Want some more? How about: The Notations, Moody Scott or Timmy Norman and the O'Jahs.

There's a certain coolness and a funky spirit that goes with those names.

You'll also find it in one of the first bands this writer reviewed: 8 Ball Groove, a truly funky act from the Forest of Dean.

Check out their MySpace content. They're not doing much at the moment, but the music's still there.

While those names suggest edge and excitement and give at least the remotest clue of the music they're going to produce, the name The Bushy Tail doesn't really exude the same thrilling sense of funky exhilaration.

You'd expect such a moniker from a Beatrix Potter character or a squirrel cunningly devised by health and safety gurus to teach children to cross the road safely.

Nevertheless, The Bushy Tail are extraordinarily funky.

They've got four songs available on their MySpace page which vary from funk to hip hop and back again on a big soul train.

The band are at their best when they are pushing the envelope marked funk.

'Calling' is achingly hip, all wah-wah distortions, scat singing and saxophone solos.

You probably couldn't get much cooler than this short of a fortnight in Siberia.

'Dangerously furious'

You'll find this burst of musical passion in the self referencing track 'Bushy Disco' too, a drum heavy, bass heavy description of a night of hedonism and much else besides.

It's pounding, fast and dangerously furious - a characteristic that re-emerges in 'Music is the Message'.

This song comes complete with its own collection of non sequiturs you'd usually expect from chemically enhanced dance music: "Music is the message/message is vibration/vibration is love/love is celebration/let's bring it on."

When the band enter the territory of "issues", they stumble a little.

While 'Mother Earth' retains all the funk and rich texture of The Bushy Tail's other songs with added hip hop flair, the lyrics remain a little over earnest: "Mother Earth, Father Sky/You know we've come together to end the fight" runs one couplet in the song.

Another one runs: "We used to eat the fruit that we cut and grow/And now we buy it frozen at the Tescos".

Other purveyors of frozen veg designed to tempt you away from growing your own produce are, of course, available.

Anger and issues do work within The Bushy Tail's chosen genre.

Rage Against the Machine are the most obvious comparison, matching political activism with funky beats.

The recently departed Gil Scott-Heron also produced a slew of angry, issues driven songs, most famous of all among them being 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised'.

But there's something a little too right-on and, well, earnest about Mother Earth which suggests the art of the political issues song is a finely nuanced one.

The Bushy Tail's songs remain, undoubtedly, hectic and thrilling.

There's a deep sense of funk and soul heritage to this band from Stevie Wonder to Jamiroquai, with shades of the aforementioned Scott-Heron and a diverse array of hip hop acts such as Bike for Three.

If you like your music with a large squelch of wah-wah and more than a hint of brap-brap, you could well fall in love with The Bushy Tail.

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