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The Go! Team Is Still Having Fun

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The Go! Team Is Still Having Fun

The Go! Team Is Still Having Fun

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

With a love of sports cheers, car chase music, and hip-hop, Britain's The Go! Team is a band that revels in unabashedly upbeat music. The group started as one guy putting songs together at home, and has transformed itself into a band of six-plus. Critic Robert Christgau says the band is getting stronger and stronger.

ROBERT CHRISTGAU: The Go! Team are the brainchild of Ian Parton of Brighton, England. Parton was a young documentary filmmaker with a specialty in archaeology who, long ago, began creating songs on a sampler in his folks' kitchen. Given the way these songs recycle sonic artifacts and musical cultures, they are almost archaeological documentaries themselves with some dirt on them.

(Soundbite of song "Grip Like a Vice")

CHRISTGAU: That was "Grip like a Vice," the lead track of The Go! Team's new album, "Proof of Youth." Lisa Lee and Sharrock are the virtual guest vocalists, and not just any virtual guest vocalists, they're legendary one-cameo wonders from landmark 1980 records by Afrika Bambaataa and the Funky Four Plus One.

Now, miraculously, Parton has fashioned the perfect music for rhymes they freestyled in a 1984 BBC documentary. Thus, he becomes one of the few to actually revive the innocence of early hip-hop, rather than stiffly imitate it like so many underground rappers. Yet, directly before the passage I just played, the same track sounds like this.

(Soundbite of song "Grip Like a Vice")

CHRISTGAU: Noisy guitars morphing into atonal guitars, not exactly early hip-hop, just two more sounds that Ian Parton loves and folds in. Though he has Public Enemy's Chuck D rap live toward the climax, Parton goes for female voices. Elizabeth Esselink, sole proprietor of the Dutch electro band Solex, has never sounded so girl-group. And believe me, she's tried.

(Soundbite of song "Grip Like a Vice")

CHRISTGAU: Another sound Ian Parton likes is horns. These were sampled on the 2004 debut album "Thunder, Lightning, Strike." But when the debut became a hit, Parton needed a human group to tour, and so he hired human horn players. And on the second album they do their thing. Here's the "Wrath of Marci" featuring three indigenous Go! Team brass guys and two indigenous Go! Team vocal gals.

(Soundbite of the "Wrath of Marcie")

CHRISTGAU: The Go! Team's first album made the silly myth about lo-fi sound conveying truth and beauty come true, only now he's created a very similar album in the studio. It's hardly clean-sounding. Parton loves to jam things together. But it's got volume and presence twice as strong sonically with no loss of ebullience or directness. It's positive without corn, which is pop music's main reason for being.

BLOCK: The CD by Go! Team is called "Proof of Youth." Our reviewer, Robert Christgau is a contributing editor to Rolling Stone. You can hear songs from the CD and discover more new music at npr.org/music.

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