I am by no means a musical purist, but when I heard a couple years ago that some local punk rockers were putting together a soul band, my reaction was “Okay, then. Good luck with that.” The first couple times I saw Jungle Fire kinda confirmed my skepticism, as I found them way more Chili Peppers than Dap-Kings. I kept going to see them every now & then, though, & am happy to say they finally found their own thing, with their “Peace Is Our Profession” 7″ep a perfect introduction to their take on South City St Louis soul. All the songs sound different, but they all sound like Jungle Fire.
The record starts off with “Josephine,” an almost Specials-ish mod-soul jumper, then cuts to “Blade Brown,” a bad-ass shouter about a bad ass, with an arrangement similar to Curtis Mayfield’s “Freddy’s Dead.” The song would verge on clunky, though, if not for that smooth flute that sweetens the attack. Side two is dedicated to “Freedom,” a fuzz funk mantra. I really hope Jungle Fire releases a Rare Earth-style 17 minute workout version of that one.
The use of flute by both bands was what drew me to pair Jungle Fire with St Louis jazz-funk outfit The Organization Band (about whom I could find virtually nothing online, though the 45 is on youtube), but their 1984 “Zero Gravity/Waiting For 105″ 45 is definitely worth hunting for on its own merits. Side one has falsetto vocals reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield (oh look, there’s another similarity), though not nearly as powerful, with the flute/trumpet/wah-wah guitar carrying the tune. Side two is an instrumental, with the trumpet melody line veering a little too close to hot tub for my taste, though if you stripped that out, you’d have a really great backing track for some Gang Starr-style intelligent hip-hop. Coincidentally, the other record I own by The Organization Band is a 12″ single taking a stab at 80’s hip-hop. It’s so not great that its pretty great. If I ever expand beyond 7” with the Rebellious Jukebox I’ll tell you all about it.
The Jungle Fire: Freedom
The Organization Band: Waiting For 105/Zero Gravity (jump ahead to about 4:00 for the better stuff…)