It's been 4 years since Rage! came out, and here we are in 2012 with a long awaited new Lettuce album, titled "Fly". I pretty much got into the band around the time their last album came out, so Ive been waiting the whole 4 years for this album to come out. When it got announced, I was a little worried that it would be Rage! Part 2, which wouldn't be so bad, but it might have been more of the same. Luckily, Lettuce's third album is once again it's own album with it's own sound. The production is a little dirtier than the last album, but still crystal clear. The sound is as tight as ever, but there's new things going on. The band worked on different set ups for where the instruments would be mixed and panned, which is really noticeable when you listen on headphones; such as drums being on the left speaker, and horns soloing in the right, etc. This gives the sound a bit of a vintage sound, but Lettuce are no imitators, they bring in modern influences to their funky sound. This album sees the electronic influence rise, dare I say a dash of dub-step, something that hasn't been heard much before in Lettuce, not a lot, so don't be scared away. This is, of course, mixed with their legendary jazzy sound and a little hip-hop influence.
As I said before, this is not Rage! part 2, but a completely new monster. The album starts off, with a more laid-back than the previous two album openers, with the title track, a little reminiscent of James Brown's "I Feel Good" but funkier. Lots of spacey, delayed guitar and wah-ed out horns. The second track "Lettsanity" is fast and funky, a real bad-ass song; sounding like it came from the Rage! sessions, and is the closest this album comes to sounding like Rage! did. Nice sax solo.
From here on out, the band move into new territory. "Ziggowatt" is some heavy funk, the guitar, bass-organ, and bass playing in unison makes this a song that might blow out your sub-woofer, heh. Kind of reminds me of eric Krasno's other band, Soulive. Some rock-ish guitar solos here too. "Madison Square" shows a more melodic side of the band, seldom seen before, but still funky as hell. This song grooves, one of the best cuts here. The rhythms are crazy, which have an almost galloping feel. OH MAN the middle section is one of the coolest funk sections Ive heard in a long time. It demands your attention. Fast horn lines with drums and bass layin' it down, half time. The guitar is actually the glue here, playing fast lines, while comping some chords, and doubling the bass; all at the same time.
"Bowler" sees the band playing around with the panning of the instruments. horns on the right, drums on the left, guitar sort of in the middle. This is an interesting song, and introducing some real curve-ball chords. Very Meters-like. "Jack Flask" is another funk powerhouse. This is one of the more aggressive songs, great horns, almost reminds me of P-Funk mixed with Tower of Power.
The token vocal song "Do It Like You Do" is sung by guest Nigel Hall, who returns from guesting on Rage! but the vocal track is so short it doesn't really affect the flow of the album. One of the better vocals tracks from the band (none of them are bad though)
"Play" is another good funk song, though nothing crazy. Kind of a standard Lettuce song. "Let It GoGo" is another sort of standard Lettuce song, but a little better, with some tasty horns and excellent percussion work. Of course, standard Lettuce songs are still full of high energy playing and tight rhythms.
Next is the War cover "Slippin' Into Darkness". Probably not as good as the original, but hey, they still do the song with tons of energy, as is to be expected. Adam Deitch is really in the pocket on this one. Krasno returns for a mighty fine guitar solo
"The Crusher" sounds like what it says. A real slow, and I mean slow, funky tune, sometimes it seems like the beat drops tempo even more, and is almost experimental in the rhythm department. Sounds like a giant robot slowly trudging through a city, destroying buildings and such. This song is a real 'crusher'. Apocalyptic funk, if you will.
"Ghost of Jupiter" starts out the jazzy, but then the beat comes in, and reminds me of a dark, blacksploitation movie from the 70s, just has that feel.
The album ends on a high note, with one of the best songs on the album, "Monorail 3000". If you are familiar with The J.B.'s "Monorail", that's sort of what's going on. I don't think this is a cover, but it's reminiscent of the J.B.'s song. This is REAL FUNKY, some of the best kind. The bass is slick, the horns are blasting, and tight, like Miles Davis-tight. And speaking of Miles, a trumpet solo pops up here, the one instrument that hadn't had a chance to shine on this album until now; well better late than never. Everything works in this song. A good way to close out this album.
Whew, this review came out longer than I thought. Well, if you're still reading this, you must be interested in this album. I say get it, it's a great funk-jazz album. Not as good as the previous album "Rage!", but some of the better funk to come out in recent times. They do some new things, which is good, because all of the band's albums have their own special flavor. Every Lettuce album so far is amazing and essential for any jazz-funk or general funk collection. Fly with Lettuce.