The Herbaliser have been around for a minute. Since 1994 in fact. And, just by being on the legendary Ninja Tune label in London, you know that they have pedigree. Ollie Teeba and Jake Wherry have gone through a major transformation over the years, from studio buffs to big live band proponents of not only instrumental hip hop and the occassional vocal and raps but to global hip hop jazz and funk fusion soundtracks. These guys don’t just make songs, they make themes, anthems that are soundtracks to a generation.

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The Herbaliser (Jake & Ollie)

Their music would not be out of place in any blockbuster movie such is the attention to detail in the production. Just listen to the progression and niceness in ‘A Song For Mary’.

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Herbal Tonic is a compilation of their best work throughout the years, a ‘best of’, if you like. As I mentioned before about the transformation of their sound, the album contains tracks from the earlier studio albums such as the smooth ‘The Blend’ from 1997’s ‘Blow Your Headphones’ to the epic big band classic that is ‘Stranded On Earth’ from 2008’s ‘Same As It Never Was’. So there is a combination of full band releases and also their earlier studio based outings. Regular fans will like having all their favourite songs all on one disc and those new to Herbaliser will find there couldn’t be a better introduction. Those into acts such as Aim, DJ Vadim, Thievery Corporation, The Roots or even RJD2 should be aware of Herbaliser but if not I promise, you are in for a treat.

Just sit back and pour yourself a nice glass of red or whatever your favourite tipple is and enjoy. Regular collaborator, New Yorker Jean Grae turns up on three tracks. Apologies for the cynic in me but is this arrangement an ode to Jean’s legends of parents (South African jazz greats, pianist Abdullah Ibrahim aka Dollar Brand and singer Sathima Bea Benjamin)? Fact is Jean holds her own on the songs she’s featured on. Also turning up on this album are the ever impressive but reclusive Roots Manuva and MF Doom. The singer with the band Jessica Darling completes the line up of vocalists featured.

[wpaudio url=”″ text=”The Herbaliser – It Ain’t Nuttin ft. MF Doom” dl=”0″]

Label mates DJ Food repay remixing favours with ‘Mrs Chombee Takes The Plunge’, an interpretation so good it will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Other highlights include the funky ‘The Missing Suitcase’ and the naughty ‘The Sensual Woman’. The Shakespearean titled ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ is cinematic and haunting enough to remind me of Lady Macbeth.

The rest of the tracks are more or less trademark Herbaliser soundtracks for your listening pleasure.


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