Uncle Larry's Band - Philly Eclectisity (2016)

Uncle Larry's Band
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Uncle Larry's Band - Philly Eclectisity

In my imagination Uncle Larry drives the kids crazy when he gets his hands on the stereo at the July 4th cookout. He plays all that old school music, and he’s that dude who cannot let “Hotline Bling” play all the way through without reminding them youngstas that Drake sampled Timmy Thomas’ “Why Can’t We Live Together” on “Hotline Bling.” Then, he has to play the Timmy Thomas version with that church organ and that primitive drum machine.

Uncle Larry's Band - Philly Eclectisity

In my imagination Uncle Larry drives the kids crazy when he gets his hands on the stereo at the July 4th cookout. He plays all that old school music, and he’s that dude who cannot let “Hotline Bling” play all the way through without reminding them youngstas that Drake sampled Timmy Thomas’ “Why Can’t We Live Together” on “Hotline Bling.” Then, he has to play the Timmy Thomas version with that church organ and that primitive drum machine.

Of course, the kids keep those protests to themselves out of respect and because Uncle Larry is the cool uncle. He’s the uncle who slides a $20 into your hand after tossing you the keys to his ’71 Deuce and a Quarter and tells you to go to the store for a bag of ice and lets you keep the change. He always gives the best gifts at the on Christmas and he always shows up at family gatherings with a different “lady friend.” Giving Uncle Larry control of the music is a small price to pay for letting him handle the grill. His rib tips are always on point, and you gotta admit that old school music sounds pretty good.

Of course, I don’t know that’s the story of Larry E. Richardson, the leader of the Philadelphia outfit called Uncle Larry’s Band. But I can tell you that the brand of new old school heard on the group’s latest release, Philly Eclectisity is good fun.

Philly Eclectisity is a 14 track album featuring vocal and instrumental tracks, and the fact that an album of original soul and R&B music features instrumental tracks tells you a something about where Richardson is coming from. Back in the day when a “band” described a group that had musicians who played actual instruments, vocalists had to get out of the way sometimes and allow those instrumentalists to play. Most of those musicians came from a jazz background and instrumental songs gave them a chance to show what they can do -- and sometimes those instrumental songs became hits in their own right.

Richardson gives the band some on six of Philly Eclectisity’s  tracks, and each of those numbers has its own personality. Three of them are named after women, so maybe I was right about Uncle Larry’s lady friends. The best of that bunch is “Vickie,” a funky number with an on-the-one bass line, a hypnotic electric organ solo and a harmonic horn section. The record ends with the melancholy and dramatic “I’m in Love,” which features some well-arranged synth strings and a keyboard work that nods in the direction of “Born Again” by Billy Preston and Syreeta Wright.

The vocal numbers on Philly Eclectisity attest to the Uncle Larry’s eclectic nature. Those tracks include the danceable “All My Love Again,” a straight up throwback that features syncopated handclaps. “I’m Fo’ Sho’ stands as Philly Eclectisity’s  strongest track. This is a jazzy, laid back number that featuring lush horns and the smooth baritone of vocalist El Barach. The mid-tempo funky stepper’s cut “Never Gonna Give You Up” is a track that tells the story of a woman determined to stick with her man regardless of his many indiscretions. This tune won’t go down as a feminist anthem, but the cut is confirmation that some of the best songs appeal to some of our less than honorable instincts.

The days are getting shorter and it’s going to start getting cooler, but if you’re looking for some music with that old school flavor to play for the Labor Day picnic, Philly Eclectsity will entertain the grown folks and might even be able to teach the kids a thing or two about what a real band sounds like. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 

 
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