Composite Truth is Mandrill's most successful album, commercially as well as artistically. Although the band's sense of freewheeling experimentation had been tempered, its gradual transition to a straight-ahead funk band was made perfect with two of the biggest hits of its career: "Hang Loose" and "Fencewalk." "Hang Loose" is all over the place (in a good way), moving from a grooving funk jam to mid-tempo guitar skronk and back, all part of an impassioned call to peace. "Fencewalk" also had several transitions, with a crooning chorus and an extended middle section powered by heavy brass and a screaming guitar solo. Elsewhere, Mandrill turns in a very convincing impression of a salsa band ("Hágalo"), breaks into killer loose-groove funk ("Don't Mess With People," with a splendidly undecipherable vocal), and stumbles only with the long, rasta-fied San Francisco tribute "Polk Street Carnival," featuring a bass part that would make even a student smirk. (For such a strong band, Mandrill's basslines were often uncharacteristically weak.) In the main, the songs on Composite Truth were catchier than on its first two albums, and the band never appeared subservient to the sense of experimentation that had troubled it before. Even if on Composite Truth Mandrill sounded more like other funk bands of the time, no one could argue with the fact that the results were more exciting and consistent.
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AllMusic Review by John Bush