Gecko Turner - Gone Down South - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Gecko Turner - Gone Down South

by Al Brown Rating:6 Release Date:2010-10-11

Generally review CDs come with an A4 press release, written by someone in a PR firm, bigging up their client. For some reason I keep getting press releases bragging about their subject's mastery of European languages. I'm going to put this out to the PR firms now: I'm not interviewing your artists for an international telesales job, so I don't care - if your singers stop singing in English, I'm pretty sure I'll notice; so chill already. Note: I'm not saying I'll like it - people who sing in a language they haven't mastered often come across as fools, emphasising the wrong part of the word and emoting at the stupidest places. Nonetheless, I'll give Gecko Turner (Spanish, Portuguese, English) a fair shake, even if the rest of the press release makes him out to be an insufferable dilettante, especially the bit about him having "taken more than a few sips from the old African well"(!)

Jesus (Heyzuus!) though, this dude is one chilled mofo. A lot of the genre-hybrid releases (you know pop-funk-soul, folk-afro-blues) that have been forced on me lately have been the definition of try-hard (fail-hard, if the sorry truth be known). They're all so damned uptight and seemingly concerned at their ineptitude at ripping off fashionable music styles, yet powerless to stop how fucking bad they are at it. This, on the other hand is so laid-back you get the impression it was recorded poolside in a puddle of spilled Coronas and blunt-ends.

Opener 'Truly' sounds a bit like Finley Quaye without the ego, and I really dig the trumpets. It takes a lot to write a laid-back soul number like this and not bring to mind those wretched KFC ads from a few years back. This doesn't, and for that alone Turner deserves praise. Even his singing works in a kind of drunken, slack-jawed way. 'Cuanta Suerte' is a jazzy little bitch (actually, mambo I guess is more accurate); it's mainly in English but has a Spanish chorus, sung by, I imagine, the kind of grizzled old dude who appeared in Buena Vista Social Club.

As the album delves into funk territory on 'Tea Time (and the Five O´clock Jam)', it gets a bit more ridiculous (how could it fail to?), but surprisingly still avoids outright embarrassment. Even more remarkably, 'You Can't Own Me' proves Turner can even make a good stab at reggae. Yeah, it's not exactly Bob Marley, but it's a decent facsimile of his more blissed-out numbers - it's better than anything UB40 ever did anyway.

We finally get to drink from the old African well (LOL!) on 'Mbira Bira (Guadiana En Los Ojos)' which is quite pretty and a bit uninspired. Also I can't make any judgements about whether the lyrics are embarrassing because it's en español. 'Holly Hollywood' sounds like a Red Hot Chilli Peppers' album track with added steel drum and is, as such, something of a mis-step. As the album wears on, it becomes a bit uninspiring generally; the funky acid-jazz of 'The Love Monk' might do for someone in need of an early-90s flashback but I'm not sure many people really want that. Likewise, the brass-dominated funk of 'When I Woke Up' is the kind of sexless bullshit music that has haunted lame-as-fuck 'latin(o)'-themed bars for most of my drinking life.

An album of two halves, then: the first half has the feeling of a swingin' party descending into some kind of addled, slurred and collective good-feeling, but the second half is fairly dull. As you may have guessed, that still makes it something of a triumph based on expectations alone, but I'm not sure Gecko Turner is going to win many fans outside of late-night Radio 2 listeners.

Comments (1)

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Great review. I'll be round soon to force some more genre-hybrid releases on you.

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