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Acoustic Ladyland

Last Chance Disco


by Ian Mann

March 13, 2006


One of the albums of 2005 in any genre.

Acoustic Ladyland aquired their name when working on their 2004 ‘Camouflage’ album which was an imaginative re-interpretation of Hendrix tunes. The album was a critical and commercial success leading saxophonist and composer Pete Wareham to decide to up the ante by recording an album of his own tunes with an even stronger rock influence.

‘Last Chance Disco’ roars out of the blocks with a two minute thrash entitled ‘Iggy’ inspired no doubt by Mr Pop. This can only be described as “punk jazz” with its ferocious energy. Likewise ‘Thing’ - Wareham’s first composition in this style is a veritable musical squall with Wareham’s honking, squawking baritone sax and drummer Sebastian Rochford’s hammering evoking the spirits of Keith Moon and John Bonham.

Even in its less frenetic moments the album still retains that edginess and sense of urgency. Wareham plays like a man possessed throughout with his sparse saxophone lines sometimes recalling vocal parts. Tom Cawley’s heavily treated keyboards sound at times like a (very) electric guitar. The muscular but imaginative bass lines of Tom Herbert hold it all together like a latter day Charlie Haden. Rochford completes a phenomenal rhythm with some startlingly inventive, but incredibly powerful drumming. ‘Of You’ highlights his formidable abilities.

For all the sonic overload Wareham’s writing is still melodic with strong themes providing the backbone for the band’s pyrotechnics. Although sometimes complex this music is never “difficult”. Indeed, Wareham has tried to forget the “vocab” he learnt at music college in order to get that raw edge and visceral energy in his playing and writing. Sometimes it’s hard to keep it simple.

Only ‘Perfect Bitch’ - the albums solitary vocal track delivered by Wareham in a punky cockney whine - fails to repay repeated listening, but it all clocks in at under two minutes, so this hardly matters when set against the strength of the other material.

Wareham is determined to get his music out to a wider public than the normal jazz audience. Critical acclaim for the album has led to an appearance on Jools Holland’s ‘Later’ plus gigs in rock clubs as well as the normal jazz venues. This has resulted in the generation of large audiences - including the “20 somethings”. I also predict a nomination for the next Mercury Music Prize.

One of the albums of 2005 in any genre, and highly recommended to adventurous rock fans as well as hardcore jazz followers.

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