Michael Somerset Ward pens the lyrics for this, the latest single from Crooked Man side project, Athletes Of God. A song which celebrates the life of singer / songwriter, Fontella Bass, who was famously ripped off after writing and recording the million-selling 1965 smash, Rescue Me, and subsequently relocated to Paris with her husband, trumpeter / bandleader, Lester Bowie. Jamming with The Art Ensemble Of Chicago, in 1970 Fontella fronted the jazz dance classic, Theme De YoYo. This tribute, titled Fontella, is a very Balearic blend of frantically strummed guitar – a lick with more than a pinch of the Prince / Alphabet Streets about it – and a colossal cowbell clonking go-go break, sent stratospheric by a powerhouse performance from Lady Blackbird. In its Radio Mix this is a big, big pop moment, that takes me back to a time when people like Sub Sub were topping the UK charts.
There’s also a “Crooked Dub“, which after opening with a bold string and brass salvo settles into something meaner and moodier. Without losing the song this 13 minute makeover is a rude, robo-disco rub, that gives the bass a whole lot more space, while switching the vocal hook from the positive “Moving from the Windy City to The City Of Light”, to the darker “It’s a pleasure doing business baby. I got something right here for you.”
There’s something about the combination of a booming 4 / 4 and folks banging on a drum with keys.
Athletes Of God X MSW’s Fontella is out now, on Foundation Music.