Power Inc., Vol. 1

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Comprised of drummer Keith LeBlanc, bassist Doug Wimbish, and guitarist Skip McDonald of Sugar Hill Records fame, as well as British producer Adrian Sherwood, Tackhead forged a mix of rock, cyberfunk, early electronica, and avant-reggae on a series of On-U Sound releases cut during the late '80s and early '90s. The veneer was decidedly industrial and enveloped didactic dance beats and a variety of samples and synth outbursts. And while the band's sound initially came off as innovative, LeBlanc's robotic drumming, Wimbish's non-stop slap basslines, and McDonald's often chintzy guitar and keyboard contributions have not worn well over time. This first volume of the Power Inc. roundup series of album sides, alternate takes, and unreleased originals finds the band (as Tackhead and Fats Comet) joined by both On-U Sound regulars Gary Clail and Bim Sherman and Sugar Hill-era notables Bernard Fowler and Melle Mel. Many of the ten tracks -- while having some choice samples -- mostly meander along in a heavy-handed, Living Colour-style funk-rock mode, with the apocalyptic touches losing their appeal after repeated listenings. More expansive and subtle productions like the soca-informed "Bastard Son of Fats," the densely layered "Rochester," and Bim Sherman's feature "Stealing" are worthwhile, while Melle Mel's disappointing "Original Sex" and a regrettable version of "Stormy Weather" are more indicative of the album's overall quality. Certainly a must for Tackhead fans, but not recommended to listeners who like their funk a little more laid-back.

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