Grab that milk crate full of dusty, old vinyl and see what you can find. Some of those rare collections possess timeless artists who brought us Motown and funk. From The Temptations and The Jackson Five to Sly and The Family Stone the unique sounds of the 1960s and 1970s prevail. And according to artist Jamie Lidell, it never hurts to mimic those sounds. Lidell, a guy commonly referred to as a mashed together Otis Redding, Little Richard, Sly and Prince, is on a new tour playing brand-new oldies.
Lidell’s earning of a degree in physics may explain why he has been one to push the scientific boundaries of performance. His blending of live vocals and customized tracks are what make him unique—with recent influences by Sun-Ra, Human League and Pop—as he’s achieved DJ/artist notoriety within the electronic-music scene. From the start through his last release, “Multiple Additions” (Warp 2006), this is basically how Lidell got known: a raw, funk improv artist.
On his new album, “JIM” (Warp), it is clear Lidell pushes the envelope in a different direction, as he reclassifies his presence completely. The once solo artist delivers his talents through a truly live, older sound—on record and on the stage—as he goes beyond a sprinkling of soul and funk. Now Lidell is using a full rack of spices bringing company on tour with a five-piece band.
“I have made electronic eruptions for many years. Just throwing raw volts about and it drained me. Now I’m slamming a five-piece grill combo into the fire of funk,” Lidell says.
Having a band on tour, according to Lidell, is what can capture the raw power and deliver a classic sound richer than before. Delivering live versions of his new songs can take anyone for a quick trip of past meets present. The tracks “Another Day” and “Figured Me Out” are unmistakably influenced by Motown and funk, as are many tracks on the album. All of this new, original work he considers daring but should also pull in his audience in, and ultimately bring what he wants to bring to his fans.
“I like reaching to the edge and coming back hands full. Fishing out the bounty of risk and reeling [the audience] in for the hell of it,” Lidell. Says. “Chicago can expect a heavy dose of sonic chili with a warm and welcoming staff.”
Jamie Lidell plays June 4 at Abbey Pub, 3420 West Grace, (773)478-4408, at 9pm. $20.