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Track Review: “Salute” – Lettuce

A pure 70s style retro funk.

Dominique Dungo

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“Salute” released through Velour Records from album Rage! in the U.S. in April 2008 by Boston-based funk band, Lettuce, brings together a pure 70s style retro funk.

While the band recorded the album with an old board, old mics and old tube compressors from the era with trumpeter Eric “Benny” Bloom, Eric “Jesus” Coomes is on bass, Ryan Zoidis on saxophone, Nigel Hall on keyboards/B-3 organ and Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff’s is on guitar. They are mixing jazz-funk fusion and effortlessly putting me in a dance groove.

Lettuce have brought classic funk, matching their smooth and soulful grooves with a hip-hop inspired urgency. The band has garnered praised by the likes of New York Times, NPR, Billboard, Consequences of Sound, Relix, Red Bull Music, Live for Live Music, and more.

Formed in 1992, when several band members attended a summer program at Boston’s Berklee College of Music as teenagers, Lettuce was founded on a shared love of legendary funk artists like Earth, Wind, & Fire and Tower of Power.

After returning to Berklee as undergrads in 1994, Lettuce started playing in local clubs and steadily built up s following that soon extended to cities across the country and then throughout the world.

Without a doubt, Lettuce brings the familiarity of the 70’s funk fusion with its riffs and licks. I could imagine the band had a blast creating this piece together. Rage! is Lettuce’s third release, but their first studio effort in seven years and the very first album that was lead to a serious rehearsal. Finding myself listening from the first song after the other, it gets funkier the deeper you get into the album for each tune.

For a jazz-funk fan like myself, “Salute” hits all the right nerves when I’m craving a good time to spice up my brain with ecstatic instruments and funkiness. It reminds me to let go of the stress and reality of responsibilities I throw at myself.

Having been a Lettuce fan for years, personally they bring out the freshness of funk– bringing the past of the 60’s and 70’s but keeping up with the 21st century with familiar beats of the old school funk and soul with old mics, compressors, and boards that make you wanna boogie but with a dash of new flavor of experimental jazz-funk that Lettuce performs and are noticeably fresh that come from the future.

With the album Rage! the band has definitely brought out the rage and laid it down for me to be speechless of how an album and tune can make me feel excited and so happy. A funk band could be good and catchyDisney but from Rage! Lettuce has shown me that not only were they working on this album strictly and seriously, but from listening and observing “Salute,” I felt the band was striving to show the viewers what great soulful jazz-funk from the future sounded.

I have a blast turning up ‘Salute’ and the Rage! album which is incredible altogether. When I have the chance to take a break from writing and working, I purely enjoy the beauty of Lettuce’s music while I meditate and express myself. The melodies, funky beats, and the catchy singing from Rage! goes hard with the effortless tone but really good and diverse instruments.

The album definitely resonates with me like brain food. I have a group of friends who created a funk band themselves and when I hear them through my phone or live, I feel super alive and Lettuce has a way of doing that and gives me the same emotions and feelings on Rage! I never took classes for musical instruments or vocals, but since I was a very little girl I was always singing and was self taught.

From the music my grandparents and family would play around me, to Disney movies, people knew I had so much fun expressing myself vocally through it.

Growing up in Filipino culture and house, I was always surrounded by self-expression with a lot of musical instruments, singing, karaoke, drawing and my own imagination. I carried that with me until today and it wasn’t until I was in the eighth grade of middle school did I want to take singing and music seriously. One of my good friends asked me to play the ukulele and sing a duet with her. After that experience, I was lead into finding and surrounding myself with people that I met through get-togethers at a kickback or school that were all about acoustics, jamming and having fun with freestyling. From all of that, it has lead me to my taste and motivation for music that I have now— especially with funk, soul and jazz music.

To me, the jazzy feel and sound on Rage! is classical. Organized with a good balance of keyboards, drums, piano, saxophone, and trumpet that bring that jazz vibe and sound, but adding classical funk creates a beautiful image.

Lettuce has given me total inspiration to reach out more by self-teaching myself the piano, ukulele, bass and singing. I have noticed a lot of growth from myself by being inspired by a band that I love. Not only has “Salute” given me life with the futuristic soul jazz-funk, but as much funk and familiar sounding as it is, it’s a blast from the past. They spit their own honor into the tune. They bring a lot of realness to the table and ‘Salute’ is intricate and is finesse.

‘Salute’ is truly and highly important to me because it is raw music with beautiful instruments being played with a lot of passion which is noticeable when it’s being played. Not one minute of the song has a boring or slow part, they all go for it all each and every second leaving me impressed every time and it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve played it, each time is like hearing it for the first time again because of how hard they go. I recommend the album Rage! so much to the jazz-funk lovers out there that want to get each of nerves from their body movin’.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Dominique is a Photo and Music Journalism student in SoCal. She has a radio show on her college campus focusing on talented and upcoming musicians from Los Angeles and is working to finish her degree. In her free time, Dominique is a fire performer and loves traveling, Jazz, Drum & Bass, and making music as a vocalist.

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