Album: Lo Fidelity Allstars

Don't Be Afraid of Love, Skint
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The Independent Culture

The Lo Fidelity Allstars' progress appeared to have been terminally derailed when, on the eve of a huge UK tour in support of their 1998 debut, How to Operate with a Blown Mind, the vocalist, "Wrekked Train" Dave Randall, and keyboardist, Matt Harvey, abruptly quit. But the Lo Fis were saved by an upsurge of interest in them in America, where their Pigeonhed remix "Battleflag" became a staple of college radio, eventually securing 400,000 album sales. The effect of lengthy US touring is evident on Don't Be Afraid of Love, whose grooves ignore contemporary UK trends such as garage in favour of a more international house style built on sturdy funk foundations: the samples here come from the likes of Donny Hathaway, Graham Central Station and the Ohio Players, while Bootsy Collins turns up to murmur nonchalantly over the haunting soul backdrop of "On the Pier", encouraging one and all to "shake your doo-doo-wop-a-bopper". The replacement singer, Dale Moloney, shares vocal duties with guests such as Bootsy, Jamie Lidell and the Afghan Whigs' front man, Greg Dulli, as well as his fellow Lo Fis, who disguise any shortcomings with excessive use of the vocoder, which eventually swamps the album. It's an extraordinary volte-face by a band whose debut album was as British as fish, chips and pickled onions; in their pursuit of transatlantic acceptance, they've lost the sense of place and time once provided by Wrekked Train's street-poetry observations.

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