There’s music that makes you tap your feet. There’s music that makes you nod your head. Then there’s music, such as The Temperance Movement’s White Bear, which makes your whole body move. This UK group, whose members have played and performed with acts such as Deep Purple, Jamiroquai, Jack Bruce, and even James Brown, have been making moves unbeknownst to me for the last several years. It becomes evident from the first moments of the opening track, “Three Bulleits,” after Kentucky Bourbon notoriety, that we’re in for a rough-and-tumble experience. Soaked in the sounds of Southern U.S. soul music and rock n’ roll, White Bear is sure to please.
It’s little surprise The Temperance Movement have been tapped to open for The Rolling Stones on more than one occasion, as their work feels so natural, organic, and, by extension, is captivating. The title of this third release (second full-length album), is an homage to Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Winter Notes on Summer Impressions: ‘Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute.’ As such, I assure you, it is impossible to ignore White Bear once you’ve heard it.
“Get Yourself Free” bubbles with mirth as front man Phil Campbell ‘gets on the good foot’; “Oh Lorraine” envelopes you with long, resolute basslines and upbeat percussion, courtesy of Nick Fyffe and Damon Wilson, respectively; and the title track sweeps in like a coastal wave, possessing a raucous and unrelenting chorus, before retreating into a soberingly peaceful verse, aided in all facets by Paul Sayer’s sliding guitar notes. But these are merely mentioned moments of the joys that await in this fine album, available now everywhere, except in the U.S. where it is due July 15. As Fyffe notes, it’s payback for Hollywood making the UK wait three extra months in the 80s before movies found their way to theaters there. However, it appears that the United States is graced with one bonus track, “Do The Revelation,” tucked in nicely with a penultimate track placement.
Despite The Temperance Movement’s many accolades, I gave no notice to these when I was first considering this review. However, the music instantly won me over. Looking back now, it’s no wonder! As I pointed out, my praises of this release have covered but a few of the gems to be garnered by the receptive listener. I could listen to the slow build of “A Pleasant Peace I Feel,” whose refrain washes over you with a force such as torrents from a crumbling dam, over and over. But at the moment that honor goes to “Time Won’t Leave,” the restrained final tune which causes my mind to wander, a slight smile to cross my lips, and a knot to find its way to the back of my throat. I can’t be completely sure what effect it will have on you. I know this though: my words are few and feeble, while the joy to be had from White Bear is overwhelming.