Biography: G. Love & Special Sauce / The Electric Mile (2001)
"The Electric Mile is a phrase we had before we ever had a song or an album to go with it," says G. Love. "Jimi Jazz came up with it-just one of those late-night inspirations. It's like a catch phrase for us doing what we want do without too much regard for people's expectations. The electric mile is about statement."
On 'The Electric Mile' their fifth and perhaps finest Epic/OKeh album, G. Love & Special Sauce bring it all back home with a 13-song statement of all their favorite musical forms: blazing hip-hop, roots reggae, folk with a touch of country, blues with a taste of jazz. In an era dominated by assembly-line teen pop and so-called "alternative" sound-alikes, the trio of G. Love (lead vocal, guitars, harmonica), Jim "Jimi Jazz" Prescott (acoustic bass), and Jeffrey "Thunderhouse" Clemens (drums, percussion) have created that rare thing, a unique and instantly identifiable band sound.
From the first measures of the first track, "Unified" (written by G. Love and Ras of the Long Beach Dub All-Stars), that sound will be recognizable to anyone who's ever heard G. Love & Special Sauce live or on disc. They rock the high-energy ska rhythm of "Unified" with a loping bass line, raw rhythm guitar, and Jeff Clemens' hard-hitting, ever swinging drums.
"Praise Up" is a head-turning blend of G. Love funk and echoing Jamaican dub, capped by a stunning improv jam section. "Night of the Living Dead" boasts an unforgettable melodic hook and G. Love's soulful falsetto, and is the first Jeff Clemens solo composition to be included on a Special Sauce album.
"Parasite" is a tense, caustic hip-hop track that pairs G. with old friend Jasper Thomas. (In 1994, Jasper waxed a memorable guest rap on "This Ain't Livin'" from the debut album G. Love & Special Sauce.) And on "Poison," G. Love's drawling vocal and wailing harp create an uncanny mimic of and homage to his friend and inspiration, blues singer/guitarist John Hammond.
Special Sauce welcomed several guest musicians to The Electric Mile
Sessions, "and everyone who came out for a session," G. notes, "really made this record happen, really fired us up." Percussionists include Billy Conway (from Morphine), Dave Geller, and Jamie Janover (who also plays hammer dulcimer on the title track); Little Frankie on lap steel guitar ("Sarah's Song"); and all-purpose keyboard ace John Medeski of Medeski, Martin & Wood.
"We had a rig set up for John which included a grand piano, clavinet, a Wurlitzer, a Fender Rhodes, and a Moog," explains G., whose friendship with Medeski was kindled on the 1995 H.O.R.D.E. tour. "He played all that stuff John was great. He did one day of overdubs and one day of live cutting with the band, and he really added a lot to these songs."
The Electric Mile was produced by Chris DiBeneditto and G. Love & Special Sauce, and co-produced by Michael Barbiero. Tracks were cut at Longview Farms Studios and Indre Studios, and mixed at Ruff Nation Studios. "Chris D. is our live sound engineer," explains G. Love, "so he knows our music intimately. He worked with us on parts of Yeah It's That Easy (1997) and Philadelphonic (1999). This time, he produced the whole album with us, with Michael Barbiero as our co-producer."
"Michael is a real sonic scientist?he took great care in getting us the sounds we wanted. He's an accomplished mixer as well, and that was very important in the final phase."
G. Love was born October 3, 1972 in Philadelphia, PA. He began playing guitar at age 8, and wrote his first song in ninth grade. In high school, G. fell under the spell of the classic folk and blues music of Bob Dylan and John Hammond Jr. (It was from their example that he began playing harmonica in a wire rack.) At the same time, G. was grooving to the pioneering hip-hop sounds of Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys, and Schooly D. He was still in high school when he began playing solo on the streets of Philly.
After a year of college, G. moved to Boston, playing wherever and whenever he could most often on the street. One of his few indoor gigs of this period was a Boston bar called The Tam, where he met drummer Jeffrey " Thunderhouse" Clemens in January 1993. G. and Jeff were working as a duo when they were joined a few months later by acoustic bassist Jim "Jimi Jazz" Prescott. G. Love & Special Sauce were signed to the Epic Records Group through its roots-oriented OKeh label and recorded their self-titled debut album entirely live at Studio 4 in Philadelphia. Released in May 1994, G. Love & Special Sauce featured such prime cuts as "Cold Beverage," "Blues Music," and "Shooting Hoops." To date, the album has sold more than 500,000 copies worldwide; eight years after its release, G. Love & Special Sauce continues to sell an average of 1000 copies every week.
The band began touring as both club headliner and support to bigger names, sometimes playing three sets in a single day. Special Sauce rocked European festivals like Pink Pop in Holland, Glastonbury in England, and Roskilde in Denmark. They lit up the main stage of the H.O.R.D.E. tour alongside Blues Traveler and Black Crowes; and made their own rapturously received tours of Europe, Japan and Australia.
In September 1995, G. Love & Special Sauce released their second Epic/Okeh album, Coast To Coast Motel, which was recorded in New Orleans with producers Jim Dickinson and Keith Keller. More touring followed, including a major US stint with the Dave Matthews Band.
The group's third long-player, Yeah It's That Easy, appeared in October 1997. The album's 13 tracks ranged from the raucous Philadelphia travelogue "I-76" to the mellow '70s-soul style of "Take You There" and "Willow Tree," with G. Love fronting four different band lineups. Special Sauce was soon back on the road, embarking on a six-week headlining tour of Europe and two months of US dates supporting Widespread Panic.
Philadelphonic was G. Love's most mature and soulful album yet. Working with producers T. Ray and Chris D. (Chris DiBeneditto), Special Sauce blended their characteristic live sound with an array of loops and samples on tracks like "Do It For Free," "Numbers," and the Jack Johnson composition "Rodeo Clowns."
Between sessions for Philadelphonic, G. Love & Special Sauce also covered "Dazz," Brick's No. 1 R&B hit of 1976, for inclusion on the Muppets From Space soundtrack; and traveled to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to back blues legend Little Milton on "Me And My Woman."
Special Sauce was back on the road even before the release of Philadelphonic in August 1999. " We toured heavily from about July '99 through April 2000," G. recalls. "We really concentrated on the US this time, on getting to a lot of smaller cities. In the summer of 2000, we played an awesome show at the Mount Fuji Festival in Japan. And we had three nice performances at the Glastonbury Festival in England."
Creator of an impressive new album, front man for a full schedule of Special Sauce tour dates, G. Love is also an expectant father.
"Everything just feels really positive right now for me, my band and my family," says G. Love. "We feel we've made a great record. Now we'll get back on the road and bring the music to the people, just like we've always done."
-- From the G. Love & Special Sauce Philadelphonic site at http://www.philadelphonic.com.
--- from the official G. Love website