Alan Tew's Drama Suite Part II. What can we really say? Honestly? We guess the first thing that strikes you is how clean the drums are. Almost impossibly slick but dripping so, so heavy with the neck-snapping funk you'd expect from perhaps the most sought-after library funk set of them all! The cheapest on Discogs is, currently, £1300+. Now's your chance to remedy that. If you know, you know. And we think you know...
"The Rub" is a cool, low-slung heavy-funk roller with relaxed brass and alto flute phrases. Up next, "Money Runner" is another edgy funk glider, its easy-tempo moving in harmony with slinky rhythmic riffs and featuring a seemingly ad-libbed electric piano solo. Strutting along after, "White Elephant Walk" is another laconic, deeply stoned walking theme with electric piano and alto flutes. There follows a couple of brief "walking" links before the brilliantly tense "Master Plan" slowly builds. Expectancy grows to the main theme around a minute in and then a melodic theme builds slightly to the 3 minute mark before floating down gradually and elegantly to its climax. It's utterly fantastic. The smoky, after-hours "Night Watch" is a slow, cool gem featuring alto flutes and synths.
Now we're talking, "The Fence (a)" is just sensational and worth buying this album all on its own. It's likely the reason you're here, anyway. Another impossibly funky, slow and easy tempo with a bass riff to die for, dramatic guitar with gorgeous electric piano and alto flute phrases. It was sampled for "Action Satisfaction" by J5, way way back. "The Fence (b)" is a slower, more deliberate version of the previous heater, but it's no less essential. Indeed, it's absolutely jaw-drooping. Closing out this remarkable side, "Surveillance" is another horizontal masterpiece of relaxed yet dramatic jazz-funk. Vibes ad-lib in centre section and give you an idea of how Roy Ayers making library funk in the mid-late 70s might've sounded. Sensational.
Flip over for "Total Silence", a near-beatless and understated scene-setter featuring neat interplay of guitar and synthesizer themes over bass and hi-hats. The slow "Eyes" follows, a brief gem with subdued electric piano solo and a light climax. The fantastic "Drama Backcloth (1a)" is up next, a repetitive piano and bass refrain with guitar figures over the top. Its creeping crime-funk vibe was pilfered for "Outta Town Shit" by Ghostface Killah in 2006. "Drama Backcloth (1b)" is a short, subdued version without the guitar figure. "Drama Backcloth (2)" features an expectant, background marimba figure over light rhythm whilst the cool "Drama Backcloth (3)" centres around a relaxed riff and the angular "Drama Backcloth (4)" presents eerie progressions with piano interjections. It's decidedly non-rhythmic!
We're then onto 14 (!) different half-minute "Scenechanges", all jazzy and funky, some cool and dramatic, some slow and rhythmic. All ace and groove-fuelled. The aptly-titled "Final Statement" closes proceedings, a slow, pensive theme on guitar joined by cool brass and a solo trumpet to its climax.
As with all of our KPM re-issues, the audio for Drama Suite Part II comes from the original analogue tapes and has been remastered for vinyl by Be With regular Simon Francis. And as usual, the sleeve reproduction duties were handed over to Richard Robinson, the current custodian of KPM’s brand identity. We're not quite sure what else to say about this landmark record, other than, GET IT!