The New Mastersounds: Plug & Play

By: Dennis Cook

Pass the peas and gimme some more! This is the kinda together yet deliciously loose (largely) instrument soul-jazz that turns a DJ's fingers black and sends him driving around the countryside to search backwater vinyl depots and rummage sales. But, this is a livin', breathin' today band, making this funky sound in real time and without the stink of nostalgia or homage. Plug & Play (One Note Records) shows The New Mastersounds, joined by powerhouse singer Dionne Charles on four cuts, would have been a perfect fit for James Brown's People Records stable – slinky, forward arching, mounted on the good foot. Like Fred Wesley & The New JB's, Bobby Byrd, Marva Whitney or Maceo & The Macks in their day, the Mastersounds know groove and furrow it out like hogs on truffles.

It isn't work to be swept away by the wah-wah addled seduction of "Thermal Bad" or the organ splash of "Altitude," but even better, they never let things fall into a same-y pocket, varying their funkin' with smart, flexible songwriting and playing touched by a churchly fervor. "Kuna Matata," with Fela-like vocalizing from guest Troy Howe, suggests a merger of Kuti and early '70s Stevie Wonder. So tasty! Both Charles and the band miraculously recall Lyn "The Female Preacher" Collins of "Think (About It)" fame on "Looking for an Answer." To, in any way, bring to mind one of the great soul singles is a massive testament to the depth and energy of The New Mastersounds, and further, their instincts in adding Charles to the mix this time.

Many instrumental acts falter, often completely, when they screw with their formula. What Plug & Play reveals is these guys have a general vibe but eschew any formulas. There's the potential for an Apollo rockin' revue within these eleven tracks, a true show that embraces soul music in a global sense. Eddie Roberts (guitar, tambourine), Simon Allen (drums), Pete Shand (bass) and Joe Tatton (organ, piano) play with the vigor and apostolic passion of '60s soul pioneers like Sly Stone, Ike Turner and Brown as well as the early Acid Jazz Records gang (there's nice echoes of the instrumental side of Mother Earth here, particularly in Roberts' sometimes Matt Deighton-esque riffing). The New Mastersounds do tribute to both inspirational streams while pulling off the rare feat of making a funky studio album that doesn't seem like a pale imitation of their gangbuster concerts. Nicely done, gents.

JamBase | Dance Floor
Go See Live Music!

[Published on: 10/30/08]

Take full advantage of all JamBase has to offer by signing up for an account!

You'll receive

show alerts

when your favorite artists announce shows, be eligible to enter contests for

free tickets

, gain the ability to

share your personalized live music calendar

and much more. Join JamBase!



okalrightic starstarstarstarstar Thu 10/30/2008 09:45AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I was recently turned on to this band, they really lay it down. I cant wait to check this record out. Really well written review too!

n-1 starstarstarstarstar Thu 10/30/2008 02:22PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

the jam scene gets credit for being hip to some of the best contemporary funk bands, discovering sharon jones and the dap kings, ect. this band is one of the best funkers around

johnnygoff starstarstarstar Thu 10/30/2008 06:26PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


they're from where? that's what I get a lot when I play them for my friends.

pass the peas is what they used to say....until they heard the new mastersounds.

diggin your enthusiasm in this one Dennis. Can you now say, 'must own'?

seein the dapkings saturday in ithaca. it'll be my 3rd time. can't wait.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} Fri 10/31/2008 04:48AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

every album they have is kick ass.

Jidi Fri 10/31/2008 07:05AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


the first time i heard these guys was on the radio (WWOZ) and i was confused that it was a meters tune i didnt know

Smittea starstarstarstarstar Fri 10/31/2008 12:24PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I love this band and the album is very good. I recommend everything that they have released. I am really curious as to why this review is just coming out. I purchased this album from Amazon back in JULY!

Armedaneian starstarstarstar Sun 11/2/2008 02:46PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Very good stuff!

King Rhino starstarstarstarstar Mon 11/3/2008 09:45AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

A very large portion of my $800 bar tab on Jam Cruise 2 years ago was from buying gin and tonics for the boys in NMS. We spent most of the trip hanging out and partying with them. A very cool bunch of guys. VERY happy they will be on the boat again in January. Seeing them this weekend in NYC, too.

OBPhunkE Tue 11/4/2008 09:19AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


These guys lay it down! Every album they have out there is the Funk. haven't gotten to check this one out yet, but it did get released several months ago. NMS needs to do a more extensive tour, rather than just denver area and the west coast.

Jukebox Hero Tue 11/4/2008 03:17PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Jukebox Hero


NMS is on an east coast tour right now. Not particularly extensive, but a number of shows in NY and then a few down the coast and several in FL.

n-1 Wed 11/5/2008 12:36PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

to the girl michelle whos number i lost, click on my profile right now and hit me up i edited it just for you!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} Thu 11/6/2008 03:38AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

see you in bearcreek!!!

fbd83 starstarstarstarstar Mon 11/10/2008 03:05PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


wow is all i can say! the best band i've seen in a long time. must see for anyone who likes to get down. thanx to anyone at sullivan hall that left early , you made room for all us people who were enjoying ourselves.

Sound-Sun starstarstarstarstar Fri 11/21/2008 08:02AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


just heard these guys for the first time on pandora.. funky is the word want to hear more. glad to see jambase is already on top of it