Keith Leblanc Stop the Confusion

He could have made this easier. A figure that is ripe for reconsideration, Keith Leblanc was the drummer of the Sugar Hill house band and Tackhead, and released one of the first records with digital samples. This disc, or anything he could put out now, could offer a pretext for his re-evaluation, but it’s hard to enjoy this collection all the way through. Tackhead are rightly celebrated for being one of the great interfaces of man and machine, especially live, as all three members (including guitarist Skip McDonald and bassist Doug Wimbish) were equally comfortable playing their parts and playing off the dub mutations served up by Adrian Sherwood at the mixing desk. Maybe it’s just 20 years later, but everything represented on this album shows them to be a backing band in search of a lead presence, which Mark Stewart, Gary Clail, and to a lesser extent, Bernard Fowler provided in their glory years. As such, the best tracks on this disc are collaborations with the late great roots vocalist Bim Sherman. Sherman’s gentle tenor was a natural fit to myriad scenarios, and he gives loads of personality to Leblanc’s stiff, brutal beats. It’s not as though Leblanc is lacking in personality, it’s simply that he hasn’t changed much since the ’80s. Leblanc’s songs are a series of beat collages, and those without a melody or lead presence show their age. Here’s hoping he drops an entirely original album soon to show us some new tricks. (Collision — Cause of Chapter 3)