Italian duo Massimo Bottini and Flilppo Clary, better known as Gabin, two years ago made waves internationally with a little house ditty built around a Duke Ellington sample where the singer held, "It don't mean a thing, if you ain't got that swing!" That track, "Doo Uap, Doo Uap, Doo Uap," became a staple of jazz house DJs and television commercials alike.
Now, with justified anticipation earned, Gabin returns with their second LP, Mr. Freedom. And as the album's opening track where Dee Dee Bridgewater invites us to jump into her "bobsled" with her smokey belting of "Into My Soul," the pace is set for the nearly unrelenting uptempo jog through what is destined to be the new electronic lounge songbook.
There's the John Lee Hooker-like blues of Jho Jenkins ("It's gonna be"), the sassy soul of Bridgewater's daughter China Moses ("The Other Way Around" and three other tracks) and the Tom Jones testosterone swagger of Edwyn Collins (title track). In its freight train shuffle, "Bang Bang to the Rock 'n' Roll," delivers the treat of hearing the sole lead vocal of Bottini himself, which fits comfortably along next to the guest vocalists' more time-weathered performances. Although vocals dominate the album, the chilled-out "Midnight Caffe" is the one exception, which seems to serve as a intermission halfway through this masterpiece.
The main difference between Mr. Freedom and Gabin's debut album is that the "let's put a song from nearly every genre" philosophy is not applied this time around. With the first record including everything from gypsies lamenting to Underworld-sounding "techno," the duo are to be commended that their second release stays within the lounge/acid jazz category nearly completely and yet still keeps from becoming redundant. Which is amazing because every track has such a classic feel about it, the listener can't help but assume these are all tracks written 40 years ago at least and have just been artfully re-recorded or remixed by Bottini and Clary. But that's far from the case, with Gabin penning or co-penning every track on the record.
So far this has to be my personal pick of album of the year. It ranks up with and in some cases surpasses such masterpieces as St. Germain's Tourist, Towa Tei's Future Listening! and all of the Verve Remixed collections combined. Tremendous!