Shades of Grey

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Greyboy keeps a foot in the jam band world and it's done him good. Those who go to jam band festivals and cooler West Coast clubs get to hear the man spin quite often, but this is the first time he's released a mix commercially. Maybe it's because with so many rare grooves on Shades of Grey, the man has to be a licensing department nightmare. Whoever took the time to seek out Hank Carbo or River City's people deserves a special place in soul heaven, because these inner-city party tunes deserved to be heard and the way Greyboy puts them all together is fantastic. The transition from Richard "Dimples" Fields' "Finger Lickin' Good" to Leroy & the Drivers' "Sad Chicken" is a tension-building whirlpool, while Saundra Phillips' "Ms. Fatback" sneaks out from under Hank Carbo's "Bad Luck" seamlessly. The influence of the jam band world might be the reason Shades of Grey doesn't sound like anything from the more hipster-oriented DJs. It's easy to imagine of a festival's worth of hoodys bouncing up and down to these more party-oriented tunes, and the album's scratchy scruffiness is a welcome alternative to Thievery Corporation's suit-and-tie view of rare groove. Greyboy also edits, cuts, and loops the tracks -- but only for groove intensifying, not for technical showboating. Ubiquity Records put their guarantee on the back of the record, unbelievably offering an exchange for another album if you're dissatisfied with the "musical content." Other labels would say that's crazy, but other labels don't release Greyboy albums. Shades of Grey is most definitely a keeper.

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