Col. Bruce Hampton & the Aquarium Rescue Unit

Capricorn, 1992

Hampton's rasping vocals remind me, alternately, of Captain Beefheart and NRBQ's Big Al Anderson -- and, indeed, the music itself falls somewhere between those two extremes. Like NRBQ, the Aquarium Rescue Unit dabbles quite comfortably in a range of styles ranging from jazz and blues to funk to country to rock. Their approach is more expansive than NRBQ's, though, with long instrumental jam sections, and their basic groove approach is funkier, occasionally calling to mind Ornette Coleman's Prime Time. Covers include the gospel traditional "Working on a Building" and Les McCann's "Compared To What". Some may recognize Hampton's name from the Hampton Grease Band, or from his even more obscure '80s band, the Late Bronze Age. He deserves wider recognition.

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