Imagine, if you will, a heady blend of funk, disco, jazz, and soul music that is then processed through a New Wave scrambler, and you come up with the basic formula for Blue Rondo a la Turk, a brief but exciting British group that formed in 1981. A notoriously frantic and powerful orchestra, they were designed to be a reaction to a guttural, amateurish punk rock and the vapid, fashion oriented New Romantic era.
Their sole album, Chewing the Fat, is an enjoyable yet obscure souvenir of a band that never got the respect or the audience they deserved. Their Latin-jazz grooves are utterly addictive; their playing top-notch, and lead singer Chris Sullivan is a dynamic vocalist who can easily win over the most cynical of listeners. “I Spy For the FBI” is groove met with humorous lyrics; it’s what Gang of Four would have been had they not been so po-faced. (it’s also ironic how much their album Songs of the Free seems to ape a more danceable style, a la Blue Rondo). Songs like “They Really Don’t” and “Klactoveesedstein” are fun foot-tappers, while “Carioca” and “The Method” are simply cool groovers.
For this reissue edition, the single mixes of the album tracks are featured, and show that even trimmed down from the album’s extended grooves, the band’s songs were fine moments of sophisticated pop. Also featured here is a second disc of recent remixes of their original tracks, and while some remixes are better than others, there’s nothing here that detracts from the band’s M.O. to get people dancing.
Sadly, the band imploded, but that didn’t mean they were through, with members going their separate ways, most notably into sophisti-pop group Matt Bianco, and subsequently to work with former Matt Bianco singer Basia. Though their tenure was brief, they burned bright, and left behind a wonderful collection of music.