Paul Mac Innes & T.B.O.I. - Paul Mac Innes & T.B.O.I. (2008)

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    While the soul/funk era from the late sixties through the eighties flourished in several European countries, urban grooves on the Swedish radio airwaves were almost taboo. With most Swedish radio stations concentrating on infectious pop (e.g., ABBA) and death metal (e.g., Candlemass), they were hard pressed to include Funkadelic, Lakeside, and Earth Wind & Fire and the like in their format mixes. Yet in 1979, there began to emerge from Sweden, a few notable homegrown R&B/funk bands peaked through the national spotlight beyond Sweden's borders. The Per Cussion All Stars - led by Per Tjernberg and U.S. born Michael White AKA GM Funk - was one of the first acts to introduce rap along with the funk attitude. Their claim to brief international fame was the first English rap record from Sweden - "Don't Stop" - also noted as a recommended track on Billboard's Dance/Disco chart in 1983.
    Afrika Bambaata, a prominent figure in the eighties' techno funk movement, was so enamored with this rare Swedish hip-hop gem, he requested several copies from Tjernberg to include during his DJ sets. The eighties continued to show flashes of soul-induced brilliance. The nineties was another story as Sweden overwhelmingly expanded their urban music base including popular vocalists Eric Gadd, and Titiyo - dubbed the Swedish Queen of Soul.

    Both Gadd and Titiyo carried their success into the millennium along with Swedish Neo-Soul interpreters Kissey Asplund, Ernesto, and Paul Mac Innes. Mac Innes, who has toured extensively in Europe and the U.K., now teams with his long-time associate T.B.O.I. (The Brother of Invention, aka Bjorn Almgren) for their self-titled debut. .

    Compared to Mac Innes' experimental collaborations with UK DJ/producer Landslide and Scandanavian producer Andreas Saag, he and TBOI lend a smoother, old-school tone for their recording debut. Overall, most tracks are noteworthy, especially those with the unconventional attributes. "Welcome To The Bunker," pays a fitting tribute towards Mac Innes and Almsson's Gothenburg recording studio where the soulful magic happens. On "Sorry I'm Leaving," T.B.O.I. utilizes softer broken beats compared to DJ Landslide's hard-hitting "Had It Comin," but this approach works favorably with Mac Innes' zestful performance. The down-tempo "Don't Leave Me Yet" is marked by flawless vocal harmony sweeps. "What You Do" combines a murky hip-hop feel and a sparse horn arrangement. And "Run Away," is a tale of two opposite moods: a seventies-influenced piece slowly ascending from a slow-burning funk feel - think The Brothers Johnson - into a Prince-like dirge filled with screeching guitars and Mac Innes' most uninhibited vocal moment on the disc.

    Mac Innes' debut disc with T.B.O.I. is unquestionably a highly-qualified throwback to the soul/funk era in many areas, thanks to his raw vocal emotions and T.B.O.I.'s empathetic production. Granted, Mac Innes nails down his soulful expressions, yet somehow I wish he might decrease the mellow factor on occasion, and increase the explosive vocal display similar to his well-know You Tube "We Need You Now" video. That aside, Paul Mac Innes & T.B.O.I.'s debut is another of Sweden's fruitful contributions to urban music's glory days.


    By Peggy Oliver

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