Review by Paul H Birch
Pour yourself a large cocktail, take yourself out into the sunshine, and turn the speakers up to share Better Things to Do with the neighbours. Piano honking blues funk slips out unashamedly on this EP’s title track, its lyrical laissez faire musings soaring soulfully come the middle eight and chorus line before wandering into a carefree walking blues guitar solo peppered with accompanying horns. Next song in ‘Shake’ follows in a similar fashion as does the latter ‘You Got Me’ where the drums chop up the rhythm and the brass section spurs the lead vocals on, making the female backing ones all the more enchanting in the process as a mellow guitar embellishes the sound.
The Jess Roden Band, a little Kokomo and some much-missed Moon all come to mind listening to the Tom Gee Band; not household names but well-respected musicians all. This is R’n’B, British style; priceless… unlike the worthless bling that profanes in its name across today’s pop charts. Gee takes the lead vocalist and guitarist role, presumably writing the lyrics if not all the music, and he’s quite a gift for words. Each and every one of the songs may revolve around that topsy-turvy subject of love, but he places his words in neat conjunctions, mixing the obvious with the well observed, kind of like Andrew Gold writing for Bonnie Raitt or even Van Morrison during the offbeat horn honking shuffle of ‘Listen to Yourself’.
Thing slow down for the centre piece of ‘Little Smile’ where the sweet understated soul sounds call out to be plucked for some working class Brit chick flick soundtrack. As Dury needed The Blockheads and how Paul Young was never the same without The Royal Family the sum of the parts is gold dust here and it is the Tom Gee Band collectively that makes Better Things to Do work a mellow summertime success to these ears.
8 out of 10
- Better Things to Do.
- Little Smile.
- You Got Me.
- Listen to Yourself.