Big Dog : Solid Nourishment

Black Grape sidekick parties on

Given all that’s happened, he’s got no right to sound so perky. But Kermit, now head honcho in Big Dog and recovered from the blood poisoning, drug usage and struggle to understand Shaun Ryder that characterised his time in Black Grape, is still sounding exuberant.

Still, while he might now be clean, his music certainly isn’t. Despite those years of elephant-felling hedonism, he’s still up for a party. And Big Dog’s debut album is a party with Black Grape’s trademark funk-punk stew as its soundtrack. Some habits obviously die hard, but that hardly matters when you get gloriously wayward style meltdowns and nonsensical streams of (un)consciousness like ‘Black Superhero’ or attitude-heavy party lopes like ‘Genuinely Insincere’.

Attempts to strike out on his own turf don’t work so well. ‘In The Middle’ is just a Sting sample away from Wyclef blandness, and ‘A Natural Disaster’ unconvincingly apes nu-metal, but others suggest greater escapes. ‘Right Thing’ adds blues to the mix, and ends up sounding like The Commitments if they’d dabbled in low-level weed dealing, while ‘Boom’ returns to the inner-city paranoia of Kermit’s Ruthless Rap Assassins days.

A mixed bag then, but Big Dog are mischievous in application, maverick in attitude and capable of their own musical mayhem. In short, they offer some proof that a sidekick can step successfully into the spotlight.

Jim Alexander