United One Records, 2002
REVIEW BY: Mark Kadzielawa
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/19/2003
My first introduction to T.M. Stevens came when he was doing some bass work with The Pretenders back in the mid-80s. He seemed like a solid and very refined player. I continued to see his face and name in connection with many acts over the years.
I was bit surprised and excited by the idea of T.M. Stevens solo record. At first I thought it would be just another bass album, showcasing his four-string ability. After just one listen, I realized that was not the case. This is an album that has great instrumentation, but that emphasizes individual songs.
Shocka Zooloo is very dynamic, funk-oriented and full of rhythm. That shouldn't be surprising since just about all of the tracks were written by Stevens. So, they're written from a very rhythmic point of view. There is a lot of diversity in the overall sound of these songs, as there are many different players appearing on the individual tracks. It feels like everyone brought something with them, which strengthens the whole album.
This is the first time I've heard T.M. Stevens singing; he handles the vocals on all tracks and does a great job. The vocals fit the music and complement the rhythm. There are also several back-up singers helping Stevens make the best out of each song, and adding more flavor.
The songs themselves vary in styles and structures, which makes the album very enjoyable. Anyone into music with heart and rhythm will find something they like. As for myself, I like listening to it as a whole, because I like how the songs flow into each other. It has that kind of '70s feel, where the bands would focus on making very good albums, as opposed to one or two standout tracks and the rest fillers. On the other hand, Shocka Zooloo is a very modern-sounding album. The production reflects the latest trends and tricks, but here it serves the music's purpose by making the album vital and strong.
This is a very good album, a surprising one I might add. It's a music with good feel, well-written, well-executed, and still maintains a lot of heart.