Our Kind of Movement is a great intro for me to the band Speedometer out of the United Kingdom. It’s a helluva album with everything a funk fan could want. Great playing all around from the horns with some great baritone sax work, B3 organ, plucky guitar and bass and pulsating percussion.
Speedometer has been around for over 20 years at the forefront of the funk & soul scene in Europe. They started out in 1999 playing classic funk tunes by artists such as The Meters and The JB’s in small clubs across the Southeast of England.
Our Kind of Movement is Speedometer’s fifth album release for Freestyle (excluding two compilations of archive releases) and the band lays down a hefty dose of new heavy weight funk and soul tunes, as you would expect. All the tracks are excellent, with Kashmir a personal favorite. Click on the link to the right to purchase and check out my track-by-track coverage below –
We Gave Up Too Soon (featuring Vanessa Jamie) starts with that old school hollow guitar pluck and horn punch before the vocals come on with Vanessa crooning about a lost relationship. Vanessa and the background vocals nail that The song has that old school soul feel. The guitar solo sounds like a synth due to the phaser and hints at the Isley Brothers “Who’s That Lady” and brings out that 70s feel right before the closeout.
Abuja Sunrise kicks off with a percussion intro that’s classic Fela Kuti and also brings to mind the Brooklyn-based Antibalas. The afrobeat rhythms with terrific horn work will make it a favorite of all fans of the genre. The interplay between the keys and horns is terrific with each alternating lead. The bridge leads right into a danceable baritone sax solo with the keys brightly accenting. The horns ride to the outro with the guitar plucking the ending.
Kashmir is the song that initially drew my interest in the album and frankly, Speedometer as a group, having it suggested in my Spotify playlist. The addition of the sitar and the video of the version filmed during lockdown is spectacular. I’ve recently read that the sitar can play any style of music and here it proves it’s a great funk addition. This tune just plain out kicks ass. By the time the horns kick in 1/3 through, it’s guaranteed to have your body rocking and when the fanfare comes midway it’ll share your core. The closest analog to this in recent memory is Lettuce’s recent release Moksha off the Resonate album. The close out with just sitar and the psychedelic touch is such a low volume vibe.
Let’s Start A Movement featuring James Junior starts with a dramatic piano section followed James coming in with some very soulful vocals, reminiscent of Trombone Shorty out of New Orleans. This anthem for unity has some gorgeous string backing sections. The closeout is a jazzy piano section followed by horn melody with James singing the refrain.
Edge of Fear falls into a newer genre I refer to as dark funk, with the recent progenitors The Budos Band and to some extent Lettuce. It starts with a somewhat sweet guitar sound but once the horns come in you know you’ve entered a darker space. At its core, it’s an afrobeat melody but with the deep horns and spooky keys it definitely sounds more ominous. There’s some eery interplay between keys and horns in the middle followed by a fabulous baritone sax solo with horns jabbing in right to the end.
Time To Slow It Down featuring Najwa Ezzaher has one of the funkiest openers on the album and sounds it could be right out of the James Brown catalogue. When Najwa comes in in she’s got one of the sweetest, silky voices around. There’s a great bass solo break with Najwa scatting along — followed by a bouncy keys solo. Najwa comes back with the main theme and man, she fits with this song so perfectly right up to the classic fade out.
All In is Vanessa Jamie’s second tune on the album and kicks off with a 60s feel drum-bass start. Vanessa and the backing vocals sound like a cross between Amy Winehouse and Martha Reeves (and the Vandellas) and it’s all so good. The triangle-percussion lead in to the trumpet and baritone mid section is top notch. The close features a trumpet solo behind Vanessa’s vocals and an abrupt pull up ending.
Funky Amigo starts with a Latin halcyon horn vibe and shifts most closely to an Afro-Cuban rhythm. The horns are a highlight here as they carry the bulk of the melody. There’s a groove oriented oriented organ solo towards the end before the band rides out to end.
Mo’ Crunch starts with a slow roll guitar riff before the drums and some heavy hitting organ join sounding like a classic Memphis trio. This is an album highlight for Andy Fairclough. The horns c0me in halfway through to complete that Stax sound. Shout out also to Richard Hindes for some excellent bass work throughout this tune as well
Look No Further (featuring Najwa Essaher) is a super soul song featuring Najwa on lead vocals. Her pleading for her man to “Look No Further” to search for another is entrancing and the backing vocals are superb. This tune could fit very easily in the Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings catalogue. There’s a nice bridge transfer from Andy Fairclough on keys to Leigh on guitar before the header closeout.
Mind Escape starts with a percussion-organ-guitar kind of ethereal harmony. It has some great grooves before a vibe like keys segment kicks in. Then the horns with some heavy bari sax roll in with the vibe sound continuing. There’s a surprise flute solo midway through. I feel like this could be Donald Byrd and Roy Ayers collaboration. With the flute solo outro it’s quite an epic tune to close out the album.
Our Kind of Movement was a bit of a shock to me – how could I have not been familiar with such a great sounding group ? So happy to have found them and this album presents an excellent diversity of styles, vocals, instrumentals, funk, soul, Afrobeat, Latin, dark funk among them to make it interesting end-to-end. It’s one that I’d highly recommend and I’ll be going back to explore Speedometer’s back catalogue next.
- Leigh Gracie, Guitar and Tambourine
- Richard Hindes, Bass
- Jason Baldock, (We Gave Up Too Soon, Mo’ Crunch, All In, Look No Further)
- Neil Robinson (Kashmir, Let’s Start Movement, Edge of Fear, Mind Escape)
- Cath Evans (Abuja Sunrise, Time To Slow It Down)
- Tristan Butler (Funky Amigo)
- Matt Wilding, Percussion
- Andy Fairclough, Keys
- Dave Land, Trumpet
- Simon Jarrett, Tenor Sax
- Stephen Wilcock, Baritone Sax
- Mark Brenner, Sitar
- Guest vocalists
- Vanessa Jamie
- James Junior
- Najwa Essaher
GREAT review! THANK you! But here’s a few corrections. The keyboards on this LP were played by Andy Fairclough; who is incredible. Drums were by me, Jason Baldock (on We Gave Up Too Soon, Mo’ Crunch, All In & Look No Further), the brilliant Cath Evans (Abuja Sunrise & Time To Slow It Down), Tristan Butler (Funky Amigo) and the great Neil Robinson on all the others. It’s a guitar playing the solo on We Gave Up Too Soon, not a synth, though it really does sound very synthy, due to the phaser. 🙂
I recorded & mixed seven of the songs, so that’s how I know who did what. I think it’s a BRILLIANT LP, and it was a lot of fun working with such fantastic musicians, all of whom also happen to be lovely people. It was the 2nd LP that I’ve done with Leigh (Speedometers’ leader), as he was also the main man on the incredible Ray Lopez & The Juniors LP “We’ve Got Latin Soul”, which a lot of the same musicians played on. Matt Hodges WAS the keyboard player on that LP. It’s a revolving door family of musicians on these records. 🙂
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