This is a bit of a conundrum. While John Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen break no new ground with their latest, it is kinda nice all the same. Cleary is British studio veteran who plays a mean piano and bass, sings in deep resonant voice, and handles all the lead guitar duties on Spin. I think he also catered the sessions and valet parked the musician's cars. The compositions are in the same camp as a lighter Galactic with a Cuban flair on the ivories and more gospel touches. His nights at the Maple Leaf in New Orleans show up in his Louisiana flavored piano, which swerves to draw from Latin traditions as well. Everything about the Monster Gentlemen is sturdy. They obviously know what they're doing and while it might not take many risks it does grow in comfortable pleasure as the album progresses. Titles like "Agent 00 Funk" and "Funky Munky Biznis" may be hard to take seriously but that monkey and "Ain't Nuttin' Nice" equal the Meters on a good day and the finger snapping vocalese of "Best Ain't Good Enuff" is nifty as three little birds on your windowsill. A pleasant enough romp to be sure.

Dennis Cook
JamBase | Oakland
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[Published on: 7/18/04]

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