Menahan Street Band: Montego Sunset + Going The Distance
Make The Road By Walking (Dunham/Daptone, 2008)

While instrumental soul isn’t typically my favorite sub-genre of soul, MSB’s 35-minute album Make The Road By Walking is a consistent effort, with Daptone continuing to pump out solid full lengths to extend their reign on the retrosoul scene.

Jay-Z and his musical team found the sounds of MSB to be soulful enough to sample for the hit “Roc Boys.” On the album the original is presented with a slower tempo. Following is “Tired Of Fighting” where the horns take a back seat. If crooning is your thing, this song can be heard with vocals on the 45 with Charles Bradley in a renamed form called “The Telephone Song.” I really dig the congas on this track… they’re not overt but add a nice complement to the thump of the rest of the percussion.

“Home Again,” reminds me of Young Holt Unlimited’s breezy groove. With its intro guitar lick, I can hear The Avalanches using it for a future mix. Throughout the album, MSB sprinkles in different rhythms: on “Birds,” with its pulsating bass, where they switch to 6/8. The reggae rhythms of “Montego Sunset” making me think back to a beach party I attended in Jamaica a couple years ago. Drinks were abound during this great feast and the band just partied on late into the night. I didn’t even care that my flight left early the next morning; I was too busy enjoying the music and the mood it put me in.

My personal favorite on the album is their spin on the Bill Conti classic “Going The Distance” from Rocky. Call it nostalgia if you will, but it takes me back to being 12 and catching the movie on cable on a Saturday afternoon. While it foregoes the dramatic strings, the layered horns give it a regal tone showcasing what they do best in triumph.

Here is O-Dub’s take on the Menahan album.