Brass Construction II

Their first effort, innovative as the jazz-funk fusion might have been, was indelibly marred by their intentional use of words solely as colour to yield an album both musically sophisticated and thematically sterile. Good thing they didn't make the same mistake twice. For sure there's no ambiguity about the themes this time around, such as "Screwed (Conditions)" and "Get To The Point (Summation)," and the slightly charged "Sambo (Progression)," but for however affected or blunt the titles and exhortations are the message of social improvement is solid and the music is funky. The stylistic variations don't distinguish the tracks as much as I'd like and a couple overstay their welcome a bit, but the disco bridge on "Screwed" livens it up, the album's single slow track ("Blame It On Me (Introspection)") is a welcome groovy change and the party atmosphere runs all the way through to "What's On Your Mind (Expression)" at the end. Still, as good as the other songs are, the standout is the incomparable "The Message (Inspiration)," ignominiously familiar to younger generations as the core sample for N.W.A.'s "I Ain't Tha 1," whose unmistakable piano bassline, horn flourishes and honeyed vocals remind us through nearly five minutes of pure joy that "everything is going to be all right." The second time around is always better. (Content: no concerns.)