Keep On Moving Soul Jazz Records
In the ’90s, throwing the still-obscure ESG on at a basement party instantaneously separated the real cool kids from the pretenders: the former dancing, the latter confused. Years later, ESG’s funky minimalist originals are still dance floor daggers.This rhythmic South Bronx group made its mark during the post-punk era playing gigs with Public Image Ltd. and enlivening the downtown New York scene. Its four Scroggins sisters wanted to merge James Brown’s vamps with Latin percussion, but ended up signed to punk label 99 Records and indie imprint Factory.
In 2002, the band reunited with daughters in the fold, released the album Step Off and played the Ladyfest concert here. On the plus side, the basic format hasn’t changed a whole lot on Moving. “Everything Goes” features effected guitar that’s reminiscent of the heyday of Andy Summers and the Police.
But the uptight, mechanistic repetition that made ESG an unlikely but important touchstone has slackened. These new basslines don’t beg to be quoted anytime soon. Renee Scroggins and engineer Leroy Glover often leave the drums too tinny to lock in with the bass. Programmed drums on “Purely Physical” and lifeless rhythms and vocals on “I’d Do It For You” simply underwhelm.
ESG’s return is still welcome, but newbies are better off gorging on gourmet classics of A South Bronx Story than relying on this midnight snack.—John Dugan