||Tommy Guerrero’s much-loved 4th LP – the smooth West Coast classic From The Soil To The Soul - gets its first ever vinyl release. As the follow up to his revered Soul Food Taqueria, this album was originally released by Quannum Records 2006 but only on CD. Working with Tommy directly, the LP has been fully remastered, cut on to heavyweight wax, and comes with artwork freshly reworked by the man himself.
From The Soil To The Soul represents a continuation of Tommy’s blissful guitar-soul whilst demonstrating increasingly complex chops and a slightly darker side to his distinctive sound. His spare, effortless funk is blended here with elements of Americana, heavy psych, lo-fi fuzz and intoxicating Latin rhythms. Combined with his typically breezy, laid-back San Franciscan style, it’s a vibe from start to finish.
Recorded primarily in his home studio, Tommy wrote, arranged and played nearly all the instruments, including bass, guitar, keyboards, percussion and kalimba. Renowned street artist Barry McGee, aka Twist, designed the cover art which Tommy has now recast in a deep, deep red for the vinyl version.
As ever with Tommy, the highlights are many and memorable. From twinkling, sun-drenched opener “Hello Again” to the penultimate, punk-rocking track “Let Me In Let Me Out” (featuring the melodic yet fearsome rapping of Lyrics Born), the variety across the LP is relentless, but satisfying, and without once losing focus.
We’re treated to the gorgeous hip-hop blues of “The Under Dog”, Meters-style Hammond B-3 jams like “War No More” and “No Guns More Glory” and Balearic bangers like Bing Ji Ling’s star-turn on the sleazy “Don’t Fake It.”
Curumin’s soulful guest vocal elevates the already-great Brazilian lounge feels of “Salve” to hitherto unscaled heights and the heavy, driving basslines - funky and warm on “Badder Than Bullets”, sombre and intense in “Tomorrow’s Goodbye” and “Molotov Telegram” – never fail to move both body and soul.
But our favourite track is the beautiful breezy pop of “Just Ain’t Me”. A bittersweet, skipping ballad which boasts an incredibly rare instance of Tommy singing. “What you want from me, I can never give” he repeats throughout, lending the already-melancholic atmosphere greater poignancy. It would’ve been number 1 across the planet in a parallel universe.