Originally released in 1970 on the Atlantic’s ATCO record label, Dada was formed at the very end of 1969 and they created this combination of Jazz, Blues, Soul, Hard, and Brass Rock that were arranged by Pete Gage and featured artists including keyboardist Don Shinn and vocalists Elkie Brooks and Paul Korda. Listening to this album, you can see where the incarnations of Vinegar Joe would later be as Dada would be no more.
And then, Elkie and Pete would be fronted along with the late great Robert Palmer and it would launch both of Brooks and Palmer’s successful solo career. This year, Esoteric Recordings have reissued this amazing gem as the first ever UK CD release of the sole self-titled debut of the band’s work. This is a joyful and mind-blowing reissue that Esoteric have unleashed this year and you can dance, enjoy and close your eyes and imagine buying this album at the time it was released at the beginning of the hey-day of the ‘70s.
Their take of the Rolling Stones’ The Last Time it starts off with in the style of Blood, Sweat, and Tears and The Staples Singers and then for a brief second into a fast-tempo groove. It has a soul-like praise as if it was recorded inside the church for a killer morning service to lighten up everyone’s mood. Opener, Big Dipper goes into a crunchy bluesy brass-rock groove with a powerful guitar riff and as you can imagine the sounds of Traffic featuring Steve Winwood, Chicago, and It’s a Beautiful Day.
Elkie and Paul themselves in which they take turns on the vocals, really do a great job sharing and knowing where they would head in the different verses on the 11 tracks on here. Don Shinn brings the essence of a mourning and classical approach in a gothic cathedral on the church organ for the Organ Interlude as it segues into the moody vocalizations of waiting for your dreams to be awaken for Tonite Is.
Elkie Brooks comes in front and center as she nails those powerful arrangements to sing her heart out and come out in full swing and Shinn himself brings a Jazz and at times Carousel section and Concerto moment in his keyboards on the Organ. Both of them followed by Martyn Harryman’s drum patterns are in the sections of the time signatures for the Eyes of the Warren. It’s another classic gem thanks to the brass section followed by Korda’s vocals that bring forth the rock musical, Hair.
The balladry for the Seed of Peace brings the gospel, soul and jazz into a full circle. Here, again, the essence with The Staples Singers, Randy Newman, and Thelonious Monk. Korda is nailing those high vocals and Brooks herself gives Paul a helping hand followed by the waking bass lines into the heavenly clouds to fade into the sunset. While the band would later form as Vinegar Joe, this is almost an earlier beginning of the roots of the band’s formation.
The 16-page liner notes are done by Sid Smith about the history of the band and an interview with Pete Gage who is now a teacher in Australia teaching Music Production. But in the booklet, it features quotes about the surrealism of the art movement of Dadaism from the realms of; Richard Huelsenback, G.E. Blosche, Hugo Ball, Andre Breton, Tristan Tzara, and the artistic cultural movement of New York Dada from the 20th century from the late 1910’s and the beginning of the 1920s.
Esoteric have never disappointed me when it comes to reissues and Dada’s sole self-tited debut (Pre-Vinegar Joe) is where I recommend delving into the essence of Jazz, Soul, Church, and Brass Rock. This is an exciting beginning of what is to come in those different styles on here. As Kahlil Gibran says, “Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife.”