Popmatters Reviews "As the Screw Turns"
Scone Cash Players Get Organ-ized
RICH WILHELM 23 Jul 2019
As the Screw Turns, the new album by Scone Cash Players, may not be the most musically significant album of 2019, but it is certainly among the most fun albums of the year, and we seriously need as much fun as we can get these days. In the process of creating this fun, Scone Cash Players tie together various threads of classic organ soul/jazz, a wildly entertaining subgenre of music heard most prominently during the last three decades in the instrumentals the Beastie Boys scattered through their 1990s albums like Check Your Head and Ill Communication.
Scone Cash Players are led by Hammond organist Adam Scone, who was inspired to form the group while touring with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Sugarman 3, and Charles Bradley and the Extraordinaires during a Daptone Records Soul Revue tour of Europe. Jones and Bradley have since passed on, but their spirits surely inform the soulful proceedings captured by Scone and his bandmates on As the Screw Turns.
But it is not just the vibe that Scone found during that tour since Scone Cash Players are comprised of several of the musicians Scone played during those European dates. As the Screw Turns opens in full-on party mode with the title track. Scone plays up a storm while sax player Ian Hendrickson-Smith channels some Junior Walker to further liven up the proceedings.
The party continues with "Bokum Hi". Though it's a vocal track, sung energetically by Jason Joshua (who sings on two additional tracks), it seems like the main purpose of the singing is to push the musicians into some turbo-charged playing. Again, to invoke Junior Walker, "Bokum Hi" feels like Walker's hit "Shotgun", which also has vocals while feeling like an instrumental.
The party mellows briefly with "My House Is Small (But I Dream Big)", a song about humble accommodations and big ambitions, sung beautifully by Naomi Shelton, whose group, the Gospel Queens, are another star on the Daptone roster. In addition to Shelton's singing and Scone's playing, "My House Is Small" also features an evocative trumpet solo by Dave Guy.
Jason Joshua returns to sing about "Canned Champagne" while the band chugs along behind him in a Sly Stone-ish groove. Oddly, "Canned Champagne" is followed by "They Say It's Christmas Time", which is indeed a full-on Christmas tune, sung by John Dokes, who describes Santa's journeys up and down the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and all over New York City. You might find yourself skipping "They Say It's Christmas Time" in March or June, but don't forget to add it to your holiday playlists.
A short instrumental, "Smoke and Nails" is a cool workout for the entire band and, believe it or not, features a rhythm guitar that might remind you of the Doobie Brothers' "Long Train Runnin'".
Of the ten tunes on As the Screw Turns, it is the penultimate track, "Brass Tacks" that most embodies the spirit of Jimmy Smith, Brother Jack McDuff, and Richard 'Groove' Holmes, great organists who skillfully walked the musical tightrope between soul and jazz. With Smith, McDuff, and Holmes seemingly guiding Scone's fingers, it is no wonder that, on a fun album, "Brass Tacks" is the most fun of all.