Review: Chuck Rainey "Interpretations of a Groove"

July 25, 2013

Chuck Rainey’s most recent CDs have featured his singing bassist persona, in the vein of Larry Graham and Bootsy Collins (he’s also Uncle Clyde in Victor Wooten’s audio book, The Music Lesson). But while Graham and Collins embody the funky feels of the Bay Area and Southern Ohio, Rainey draws from his Rust Belt roots, his legendary studio span on both coasts, and his longtime Texas home base. Those are the ingredients that go into the 12 “interpretations of a groove” on Rainey’s potent latest. The disc opens with a pair of 16th-notebased, simmering soul strolls in the title track and “Think About It.” Chuck’s trademark thump-’n’-pop double-time stomp can be found on “And the Cowboys Still Ride With Pride” and “Uncle Chucky’s Thumb Slappin’ Bass Boogie,” while “That Xmas Eve” boasts a slower slapped groove, as Chuck recites “The Night Before Christmas.”

Rainey’s influences really become apparent on his covers. “She’s a Brick House” bubbles with a piano montuno and a walking bass line in the verses; the jazz standard “Fever” becomes a funk cha-cha with probing bass; Bill Withers’ “Use Me,” here redubbed “Use Me Up,” steamrolls down Broadway, packed with percussion and uptown elements; and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” is reharmonized and re-grooved as a fiddle-driven R&B samba. Throughout, Chuck’s warm, laid-back, narrative vocals will put you at ease, but watch out: He can still sting you with the groove.

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