fDeluxe – Live & Tight … As a Funk Fiends’ Fix (2013)

I’m not paranoid — usually — but the band fDeluxe has it in for me.

I was never a fan of the 1980s-era band the Family. It’s not that they were bad; the fact is I just don’t remember them. Somehow, I missed something good. Perhaps I spent too much time hoping the Eagles would get back together, while the Family’s self-titled LP was considered a masterpiece. Why are we talking about The Family? fDeluxe is the new name of that 1984 band.

Like the group formerly known as the Time, fDeluxe is not allowed to use its former name by a certain purple person. Unfortunately, some fans of the Family album missed the 2011 recording debut of fDeluxe called Gaslight (on Rope-A-Dope records). That’s a shame. Gaslight made several critics’ best of 2011 list. It would have made mine, if I heard it but I caught up with the group in 2012 when I saw a mention of them in Jellybean Johnson’s discography and bought Gaslight.

fDeluxe features Johnson (the Time’s drummer) on guitar, Eric Leeds reprising his role on sax, St. Paul Peterson on bass and Susannah Melvoin on vocals. All pocess impressive funk and rock credentials and together on Gaslight were formable. On the new recording Live & Tight … As A Funk Fiends’ Fix, however, they are unstoppable. Despite the fact that 26 years have passed, Melvoin and Peterson are just as (if not more) effective as vocalists. Melvoin has numerous projects to her credit, including Doyle Bramhall II and Roger Waters, and still knows how to command her instrument. St. Paul is equally effective behind the mic and surprisingly funky on the bass guitar. (Wasn’t he a keyboardist in the Time?)

The lead-off track to the new CD, “High Fashion” reminds you of a great 1980s funk track, but with fantastic real playing. Leeds is icing on the cake. His tenor lines recall those in many James Brown songs, yet he still manages to sound both familiar and original. He gets a wonderful opportunity to stretch out on the song “Leed Lines,” which was originally recorded by his jazz fusion group Madhouse. Johnson provides a chunky and funky rhythm guitar part throughout the CD, but on occasion steps out with psychedelic solos. On stage, fDeluxe is augmented by Jason Peterson-DeLaire on keyboards and vocals, Oliver Leiber on guitar and Mario Dawson on drums. These gentlemen are very complimentary to the funk, providing a tight foundation for the healing.

Standout tracks on Live & Tight … As a Funk Fiends’ Fi include “Gaslight,” “Nothing Compares To You” (yes that song, only better by fDeluxe) and “Drummers & Healers.” Clearly, this was a great night of music at the Dakota in Minneapolis in 2012. fDeluxe create infectious grooves that stick in your head. Unfortunately, they were just here in Chicago and I missed their fantastic show. I know they are out to drive me crazy with these unforgettable grooves.


Purchase ‘Live & Tight … As A Funk Fiends’ Fix’ via fdeluxe.com.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Chicago. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.