review = A
Darwin was right: the strong survive. And given an opportunity, the weird mutate. Take a gander at San Diegoís six headed rhythm monkey. Proving that evolution is more than just a theory, Wise Monkey Orchestra has adapted to lineup changes and the rigors of the road without missing a beat. In fact, the band is stronger than ever.
Culled from a handful of west coast shows during early 2000, -They Live-, released on Lauan Records, captures the monkey in its natural surroundings - on stage. Welcome to the wild kingdom! Flexing the same musical muscles that pumped up their regional, west coast fanbase into a national following, WMOís polytextured party grooves never rocked so hard. The reason - new members Marty Schwartz on guitar and drummer Bruce Stodola. A ferocious fret shredder who also slips jazz chords and pops funk riffs with equal authority, the addition of Schwartz on guitar creates an edgier, more bluesy mutation of the funky monkey without genetically altering the bandís essence. Plenty-o-sultry female vocals, grab-ya-by-the-booty bass grooves, freak-board techno-gurgles, and oodles of So-Cal/so cool slide trombone throughout. The energy crackles on all ten tracks - a mix of new material and fresh takes of WMO classics, including several jams with saxman supreme Dave Ellis (Ratdog, the Other Ones, Charlie Hunter Trio). Evolution has been kind to the monkey.