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Tuesday, September 22, 2009


320 KBPS

With a grungey guitar attack and sludgy sonics, Big Chief's early records sound like prototypical '90s Seattle — except the band is from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Formed by members of several popular local groups (Laughing Hyenas, Necros, McDonalds, Posse From Hell), Big Chief embraced a wide swath of hard-rock influences, ranging from righteous homeboys the MC5 and the Stooges to Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer and Black Flag. The twist is in the funk, however; Big Chief hails from George Clinton country, too, and their debt to Dr. Funkenstein — an obligation none of their forbears knew from — would become obvious later on.
The quintet more than makes amends, though, on its major-label debut, Platinum Jive. The rock/funk synthesis is even more seamless, resulting in heavy music that drives hard and with great invention — including ample spicy sonic details provided by flutes, horns and deftly arranged backup vocals. There's a rap number ("Bona Fide," with Schoolly D) and a soul croon called "Simply Barry," but mostly Platinum Jive rocks and roils, from the slamming opener "Lion's Mouth" through the trippy "Your Days Are Numbered" and the relentlessly rhythmic "The Liquor Talkin'." Kudos also to the packaging, a hilarious sendup of greatest-hits albums that even lists fictional solo records by the individual Big Chiefs (Henssler's is called The Sexual Intellectual).

1. Lion's Mouth
2. Take over Baby
3. John's Scared
4. M.D. 20/20
5. Map of Your Failure
6. Bona Fide
7. Armed Love
8. Philly Nocturne
9. Locked Out
10. All Downhill from Here
11. Liquor Talkin'
12. Sick to My Pants
13. Your Days Are Numbered
14. Clown Pimp
15. Simply Barry
16. Lot Lizard

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