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Black Grape – Orange Head

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Black Grape Orange Head

Released: January 19

Over the past three decades, Black Grape have been far from prolific with just three albums under their belt, but more than 30 years after their formation the act returns with a brand new record. 

That’s not to say there hasn’t been activity from within the band in recent memory; headed up by Happy Mondays’ Shaun Ryder and Ruthless Rap Assassin Paul ‘Kermit’ Leveridge, the former released his debut solo album in 2021 and will hit the road with the Mondays later this year. 

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Before then, he’s back with Leveridge and a collection that holds up alongside their catalogue. “Black Grape has always been about pushing boundaries and defying expectations,” says Ryder. “’Orange Head’ is the next chapter in our musical journey, and it’s packed with the energy and innovation that our fans have come to expect.”

Opener Button Eyes is underpinned by a slinky drumbeat and Cuban brass, serving as an introduction to the classic Black Grape sound, with the tempo kept up and the grooves aplenty across the set. 

That’s not to say they don’t play around with genres; Panda nods towards psychedelia, while Sex On The Beach leans heavily into dub and Pimp Wars offers a perky slice of funk. 

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But the idiosyncrasy makes sense within the context of the record, which is sequenced more as a DJ set, segueing through their multiple influences and showcasing a spectrum of sounds that make up their sonic universe. 

Individually, there’s little that strikes as an instant classic, but together ‘Orange Head’ is a strong showing from Ryder and Kermit and, 30 years since they first emerged, a welcome addition to the Black Grape catalogue that once again proves their creativity extends beyond the ‘90s.

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