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Baker Brothers - Bakers Dozen

Bakers Dozen is the latest release from British funk masters the Baker Brothers. Over the course of 13 cuts (hence the title), the band (Dan and Richard are the Bakers, Chris Pedley is the bassist) shows impressive growth from 2003's Ten Paces.

For one, they have enlisted the talents of Vanessa Freeman to hold down the vocals on five of the songs. Her appearances seem to bring out the best of the boys, as the arrangements are much fuller on her cuts, with strings and things. Listening to the funky soul of "Fantasy" and "What You Do Is Right" is like hearing vintage Brand New Heavies, or Jackson Sisters if you want to take it further back.  

When not riding Freeman's vocals to glory, the Baker Brothers specialize in gritty instrumentals that would change hands for enormous sums if recorded 35 years ago. Pedley is extremely enthusiastic on "All Baked Out," bumping and thumping along in a vein that recalls legends of yesteryear, and "Ponky Wockett's Revenge" is a lost chase theme.

There is more than a hint of afrobeat in "Hold On" and "Keepin' Together." The contribution of the horn section cannot be quantified, and should be made official members of the group.

Things get decidedly more serious at the end of the disc. "Don't Turn Your Back" starts wobbly, but builds to a soulful climax. "Aware of Reality" and "Winding Rhythm" even have traces of jazz-dance. "Spental" is an awesome instrumental that closes things with a grand finale.  

Overall, Bakers Dozen shows the group growing more confident and adventurous, a fact evidenced by their choice to remix the singles into broken beat and dubby versions.  With there being no style they seemingly can't master, the future is indeed bright for the Baker Brothers.    

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