Latin QuarterLatin Quarter
Album: Tilt
Label: Westpark
Tracks: 10

When most people think about Latin Quarter, they tend to think of "Radio Africa" and collaborations with the Bhundu Boys. They were a band that were and are, part of and partly responsible for the boom in music that popularly became known as world music back in the mid-eighties and as a genre ever since.

You may have heard that Latin Quarter have reformed and have a new album, "Tilt" out, but if you thought this was just an opportunity to rework some old tracks and relive some past glories, think again. Latin Quarter are back and they've still got a lot to say and they are prepared to say it loud, it may not buy them friends or airtime, but it shows that all the integrity is still there, as well as the quality of the music and songs.

"Nico", yep named after Velvet Underground's vocalist of the same name and "50 Grams", the two opening tracks, show that the band have lost none of their sense of perception, "Nico" or social injustice, "50 Grams" with the latter contrasting a drugs bust of in high society Chelsea, with that of a similar event in less well off areas such as Brixton and Boscombe and where the lighter sentence might end up.

"Tilt" is definitely an album with a social conscience and it's that social conscience that will probably cost you the chance to hear this on the radio, which given the pop and Latin influences you might otherwise reasonably expect to do, but radio no longer likes music with a message.

That was always one of the trademarks of the band on the first time around, that ability to blend a poppier sound with the politics. "Tilt" is an album that's strong on politics, but it's not dark and depressive and whilst the sound is lighter than some it delivers a message clearly and precisely in a way that's not going to detract from the lyrics or leave you feeling like you want to slit your wrists or avoid coming back time and time again, because it feels depressing and heavy, far from it.

"Tilt" is an album that you will want to return to time and time again, because it does have an uplifting sound, one that reaches out and pretty much invites you in. The songs are strong, they've got a good narrative and there is so much going on with pace a texture, Latin Quarter are definitely back and well worth exploring.

Neil King