Review: Big Daddy Pride and the East Side Five’s Snake Jazz: Music: Smile Politely
Jazz Snake is the debut album by Big Daddy Pride and the East Side Five. The band is led by Dave Pride and includes members from East Urbana (hence the name of the band). The album was recorded at the Rose Bowl Tavern in order to simulate a sort of “live performance” feel during recording. The album was also mixed live during recording. Check out Rosemary’s feature on Big Daddy Pride here to learn more about the band.
Jazz Snake opens with an intro track, “Intro 101”, which pulses and sounds like a reverse tape effect while a bass line holds the track down. As the track grows in dynamics and layers, you almost feel like you’re sucked into a wormhole, not knowing where you’re headed, only to be spat out and left hanging for a second before the second. track, “Amphibian” begins.
Suddenly, you’re immersed in the 1970s with the sound of a tremolo-soaked Rhodes piano. Drums, guitar and bass all come together, and you’re given a taste of what this album is going to be like. It sounds classy and psychedelic and you can even hear the fingers sliding over the guitar strings – it feels like you’re right there in the room with the band.
Pride delivers his vocals with ease. His voice is familiar, but I can’t identify who he sounds like. In that sense, the music resonates more with me, because I feel like an old friend is telling you his stories and his problems. It could also be a storytelling traveler, as Pride’s voice has grit, like someone who’s been through hard times. You can attribute some of that to recording and mixing, but you still won’t get that from an average singer. Pride has such a distinct, warm, raspy tone all its own and makes the record incredibly fun to listen to. On “The Devil’s Got a Plan For You”, Pride sings at the end of the song, almost preaching to the listener:
“It’s gonna be okay, if you remember the times your momma said, ‘Never give up, ’cause I don’t raise a quitter when times get tough.'” He’s about to shout that line, hammering home the message – never give up.
Pride and the Five also gives us a taste of New Orleans with tracks like “Mama Roux (Dr. John)”. The song is funky and danceable, with incredibly fun backing vocals that you’ll find yourself singing along to – “chicka chick-ahh, chicka chick-ahhhh”. It’s just a good time.
Almost every track on this disc is incredibly well mixed, in my opinion. I love the tone of the guitars, especially on tracks like “Finish Yo Dinner” and “The Grind” where the distortion and reverb add so much atmosphere and space to the record. The outro of the last song “The Grind” is a long jam with occasional Pride vocals, and it sounds like a Pink Floyd track, and I could feel lost in it. I kept forgetting that it was recorded live because the album sounds so good, and the times I could tell it was live I didn’t care because that just added to the granularity and made it all the more charming.
Also, can we talk about the craziness of the album cover? I mean in the best way possible, of course. For a debut album, I’m incredibly impressed. The tone and atmosphere of the album really took me to a special place, and Pride and the Five delivers energy and sincerity. I will revisit this album a bit, I can say.
Check Jazz Snake on Bandcamp, Apple Music and Spotify. You can see the band play and celebrate the release of the record this Friday, September 17 at the Rose Bowl Tavern as part of the Ellnora Guitar Festival. Find more information here. Check out a live performance at the Rose Bowl in January to get a taste of what to expect this Friday.
Top image by Eric Frahm.