The Free Pop Electronic Concept
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1970)
- Scott Bradford -- keyboards
- Jess (aka Tony Lam, aka Antionio Lameirinhas) -- lead guitar
- James (aka Wando Lam, aka Fernando Lameirinhas) -- bass
- Stu Martin -- drums, percussion
- Vinagre -- percussion, sax
- Los Canarios (Jess & James)
- Fernando's Ginga (Jess & James)
- Joia (Jess & James)
- The Modes (Fernando and Antonio Lameirinhas)
- Sail-Joia (Antonio and Fernando Lameirinhas)
- The Trio (Stu Martin)
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: A New Exciting Experience
Company: Ace of Clubs
Country/State: Portugal, Belgium, UK
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: Canadian pressing
Catalog ID: 5758
I owned this obscurity for a decade before I made the connection between it and the Portuguese-Belgian band/brothers Jess and James ... well before I read an article that laid out the connection. So much for my keen musical insight !
I won't bother going into Jess and James' biography. You can read it separately. That said, if you're familiar with their commercial brand of Euro-pop, then this one shot 1970 collaborative effort with Belgian classical composer and studio owner Arsene Souffriau will come as a major surprise.
Produced by Souffriau who also co-wrote all six tracks, "A New Exciting Experience" showcased the talents of Lameirinhas brothers James (bass) and Jess (lead guitar), along with Jess and James sidemen Scott Bradford (keyboards), Stu Martin (drums), and percussionist Vinagre. The original concept was quite avant-garde. To quote the liner notes: "Take a third of free jazz and another third of pop music, and a third of electronic music, add several pinches of technical performances, shake and serve cold on a great record player ... the ear, however should be warmed up." So how'd it turn out? Funny to say, but from a musical stance at least half of the collection wasn't all that different from your standard Jess and James release. Tracks like the opening Stax-influenced instrumental 'Chewing Gum Delirium', 'F.P.E.T. No 1 (Free Pop Electronic Theme)', and the closer 'Pish! Pshaw!' were quite commercial; occasionally almost MOR-ish. All five selections were instrumentals offering up a weird, but highly likeable stew of pop, psych, soul, and experimental sounds. Once you got over the initial weirdness, it really wasn't all that psychedelic, or even avant-garde, rather sounded like pedestrian jazz-soul collection with too many sound effects dumped into the mix. Mind you, it was still a lot of fun to check out - especially if you had a couple of cold Stella Artois to go along with the listening experience. This is nothing more than speculation on my part, but the album actually sounded like the band had recorded the basic rhythm tracks first with Souffriau dumping the experimental sounds during post-production. As a result, at times the set had a distinctive 'stitched together' feel. Unfortunately it also made for one of those releases you simply can't accurately describe so take all of this with a grain of salt.
New Exciting Experience" track listing:
1.) Chewing Gum Delirium (instrumental) (Wando Lam - Arsene Souffriau) - 2:28 rating: **** stars
'Chewing Gum Delirium' started the album off with an interesting mixture of Booker T. and the MGs-styled Memphis soul with a bunch of electronic blips and burps dropped on top of it. The sizzling groove would have made Steve Cropper smile, though other than serving as an irritation, the haphazard electronic scratching sound effects added little to the overall feel.
2.) Cosmos Rhythms (instrumental) (Wando Lam - Arsene Souffriau) - rating: **** stars
'Cosmos Rhythms' blended into the opener but was a little more experimental and guitar oriented with the band turning in an extended, African-flavored percussion-based jam that allowed Souffriau's experimental edge a greater spotlight. Nice track except for the irritating sax figure. Imagine a Traffic song with synthesizer player Dick Hyman deciding to freak-out during the session.
3.) Planetary Gospel (instrumental) (Scott Bradford - Arsene Souffriau) - 3:35 rating: *** stars
With Sauffriau's electronic frosting applied in an even heaver dose, 'Planetary Gospel' sounded like something the Ramsey Lewis Trio, or Ray Charles might have released in the mid-1960s - orchestrated soul-jazz with an out-of-control Atari controller added to the mix. The in-studio party sound effects were actually funny to hear when juxtaposed against the electronic whirlwind.
'F.P.E.T. No 1 (Free Pop Electronic Theme' was another attractive Memphis-styled jam highlighted by some tasty lead guitar from Jess, Scott Bradford's B-3 Hammond and Stu Martin's Latin flavored percussion. Once again the basic groove was so strong that Souffriau's electronics really didn't add a great deal to the mix; in fact you seldom actually noticed the bleeps and blurbs on this one.
2.) Pish! Pshaw! (instrumental) (Wando Lam - Arsene Souffriau) - 2:54 rating: *** stars
The album closed out with another Memphis soul influenced number, though this time out The Memphis Horns would have been impressed. Showcasing an echoed helicopter-like sound, Souffriau's after the fact additions didn't add all that much to the package.
Jess and James fans apparently had no idea how to deal with this one so it met with instant commercial oblivion and the brothers promptly returned to a more commercial sound. Shame, since this one was so friggin' weird !
Original copies aren't very common explaining the asking price, but the Wah Wah and Vampisoul labels reissued the collection in vinyl and CD formats in 2008 (vinyl catalog number LPS030; CD catalog number VAMPI08900033652). The reissue included photos and liner notes by Antonio Lameirinhas.
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