Street Sense

The Salsoul Orchestra

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Street Sense Review

by Donald A. Guarisco

Although this album is dominated by orchestrally oriented instrumentals, Street Sense is different from much of the Salsoul Orchestra's other output. Instead of being guided by Vincent Montana, this album was produced by disco remix legend Tom Moulton and arranged by Munich session man Thor Baldursson. The end result is an album that is much jazzier and more electronics-oriented than past Salsoul Orchestra albums. The tone is set by the exotica-flavored "Zambesi," a track that features the Latin percussion and swirling strings that most listeners associate with the Salsoul Orchestra, but surprisingly marries these elements to a very jazz-oriented tune that pushes its synthesizer sounds to the forefront. The big highlights of Street Sense are its title track, a dancefloor stormer that marries rhythmic chants from a group of singers with pulsating strings to create a track with a strong Euro-disco feel, and "212 North 12th," a funky instrumental workout that layers its churning, bass-driven groove with soaring strings and some trippy electronic effects. Note that the latter tune became a cult favorite with hardcore disco fans and was a favorite at the Loft, New York City's famous club. Unfortunately, Street Sense also includes some material that should have been left in the can: the remake of Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love" is professionally crafted but pointless and lacking in passion, while "Sun After the Rain" is a little too campy for its own good. All in all, Street Sense contains enough solid tracks to make it worthwhile for the Salsoul Orchestra enthusiast, but casual listeners may want to sample the album's highlights on a compilation before buying it.

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