The New Mastersounds 20th Anniversary Spotify Playlist
Both JamBase and The New Mastersounds are celebrating 20th anniversaries throughout 2019. For this edition of Saturday Stream, The New Mastersounds’ drummer Simon Allen curated a 20-track Spotify Playlist of the band’s most notable songs. Simon shared with JamBase his thoughts on each of the 20 entries, which you can read below. The full 20-song playlist can be found at the conclusion of the article.
Nervous feat. The Haggis Horns
This tune, inspired by Nuyorican Soul’s “The Nervous Track” (1997) opens our debut album Keb Darge Presents The New Mastersounds and is the cut that first got us noticed on the deep funk scene in U.K. and Japan at the turn of the millennium. It features the original Haggis Horns brass line-up of Jason Rae, Malcolm Strachan and Atholl Ransome, who later went on to form their own (excellent) band.
Your Love Is Mine feat. Corinne Bailey Rae
[NMS guitarist] Eddie [Roberts] came up with this sweet soul chord progression during the making of our second album Be Yourself in Leeds in the spring of 2003. We recorded a backing track and gave it to our friend Corinne Bailey Rae to see if she had any ideas for it. Two days later she came into the studio with some lyrics scribbled on a notepad and delivered this in a single take.
Corinne Bailey Rae, Leeds April 2003.
Hole In The Bag
The opening track from Plug & Play (2008), the first album to feature Joe Tatton on keys following the amicable departure of Bob Birch in 2007, is a classic NMS three-minute instrumental, with Eddie’s overdubbed tambourine being the loudest thing in the mix, as it should be. It has been our go-to soundcheck tune ever since.
Fancy feat. Spellbinder
We recorded 2015’s Made For Pleasure album in New Orleans. When we had run out of original ideas, we asked Eddie’s daughter to suggest a pop song for us to cover. She sent us a link to U.K. rock band Kasabian doing a BBC live-lounge cover of this song by Australian rapper Iggy Azalea. So naturally, we did an instrumental reggae version of that version. Later on, Eddie heard Jamaican vocalist Spellbinder toasting over a record in a bar in Denver and invited him to contribute to our track.
Released a decade ago, at the band’s 10-year mark. We use this hi-octane ditty to wake up late-night audiences if their drugs start to wear off two-thirds of the way through the set.
Instrumental soul-jazz cover of the Dusty Springfield song recorded in a nightclub carved out of cliffs on the Mediterranean island of Menorca, where our bassist Pete [Shand] lives for most of the year. Features congas from our long-time collaborator from Leeds, Sam Bell.
Pete wrote this “crime doesn’t pay” narrative song with vocalist Leigh Kenny, who at the time had started touring with stadium techno act Faithless. Lots of people tell me it’s their favourite NMS song; it’s certainly one of mine.
Written by Eddie shortly after I announced I was going to become a dad. When we went in to record it I took my recently-minted son with me hoping to record his crying but he didn’t make a sound so I had to do the crying baby impersonation myself. I later bought one of those door-frame-mounted infant bungee harnesses just so I could force little Herbie to bounce up and down along to the tune, whether he liked it or not.
Welcome to NOLA
By 2012, we had played five consecutive Jazz Fests (always on the late-night scene, never the Fairgrounds) and the spirit of the New Orleans was really rubbing off. We recorded this little groove (ironically in San Francisco) and sent it to our friend Papa Mali, inviting him to contribute. He sent back this perfectly evocative spoken-word tribute to the city.
This one features baritone sax by Rob Lavers who toured with us in the USA for 18 months from around 2007. Still a staple of our live set, with or without sax, and still makes Pete’s fingers hurt.
British singer Dionne Charles belts out this open-hearted love song, while the new boy Joe Tatton brings his bluesy soul-jazz piano to the party for the first time.
Make Me Proud!
Not the first of Eddie’s ditties to throw a hint of hillbilly bluegrass in with the soul-jazz, but definitely one of the most popular with our live audiences. And a regular show-closer.
Take What You Need
One of mercifully few gang vocal songs that we regularly inflict on the paying public.
You might find this tune annoying but it has already paid for several swimming pools and has a wonderfully silly music video made by our comedian friend Brett Domino, in which we were all persuaded to dress head-to-toe in white and wear eyeliner.
“Whistle Song” music video shoot, Leeds, April 2014.
North Carolina-based vocalist Charly Lowry is a little lass with a massive voice. She joined us in New Orleans for a week in 2015 to collaborate on the Made For Pleasure album.
NMS with Charly Lowry, Jamcruise, January 2016.
Turn This Thing Around
Another cut from the debut album, “TTTA” features singer Sulene Fleming and the Haggis Horns and was hailed by at least two DJs at the turn of the century as a modern dancefloor funk-soul classic. Sulene went on to sing with Incognito and The Brand New Heavies.
Joe’s storming instrumental piano hit from Renewable Energy, named after the mountain in Hawaii that I persuaded him to cycle up one morning.
Let’s Go Back
From 2019’s Shake It album, this Lee Dorsey-inspired song (and most of the album) features our new best friend, vocalist Lamar Williams Jr., plus the impeccable horn combo of Mike Olmos and Jason Mingledorff.
Lamar Williams Jr. & Eddie Roberts, Jamaica, January 2019.
The original “Carrot Juice” was released in 2007 on 102%. This version, recorded in front of a studio audience for The Nashville Session LP, captures a live arrangement that had evolved over nearly a decade.
One Note Brown (original version)
The very first thing we recorded as The New Mastersounds on an old 8-track reel-to-reel tape machine in Sam Bell’s basement in Leeds in 1999. The tune was released as a vinyl 7-inch single, instantly catapulting the band from total obscurity into partial obscurity, where we have been happily residing ever since.
“One Note Brown” tape reel from June 1999.