The LP includes several guest appearances from artists who are no longer with us. Though the story of Fiddler introducing Yancey to the MPC60 will be familiar to Detroit music heads, less well known is the time that a friend gave Fiddler a bag of zip drives pre-loaded with beats, which he'd bought in a barber shop. He gave them a listen and realised they'd been made by Yancey, who told him the drives had been stolen in a house move some time back, and that they were Fiddler's to do with as he wanted. That's why, more than a decade after his death, Yancey's name appears on two tracks here.
The first Yancey track is the laidback P-Funk of "Return Of The Ghetto Fly." It struts casually over a shivering guitar line, with Fiddler making wistful reference to days of "polyester flares, Nehru jackets and turtlenecks and shit" over rich, soulful vocals from Neco Redd and a rap from Slum Village's T3. Yancey's other beat appears on the introspective slow jam "Through Your Soul," which also features a smooth bassline from Fiddler's brother and long-time collaborator, Thomas "Bubz" Fiddler, who died in 2016. He appears again on "No Politics," a gorgeous groove in which Redd sings over heartbeat drums from Andrés.
These tracks are some of the album's most reserved. The mood elsewhere is more upbeat. There's the swaggering, sexual R&B of "Keep Coming," the sun-kissed soul of "Good Vibes" and "Say So"'s itchy-footed groove. "Put You In My Pocket" is a slice of pure P-Funk, helped along by Detroit groups Dames Brown and Will Sessions. "I'm Feeling You" has echoes of Prince, who had a longstanding connection to Detroit, from the early support he received from The Electrifying Mojo to Kenny Dixon Jr's devotion to him. (Last year, when Prince died, Dixon hung purple curtains from his windows in tribute.)
"I think it's time we let go of the old / maybe bring in the new," Fiddler sings on Through Your Soul, but the LP overall has a hell of a retro feel. It lends itself more to a blunted late-night listen or a drive in the car than the dance floor, outside of a rare groove night at least. Amp Dog Knights feels like a musical time machine, and if it doesn't stop often in the last quarter of a century, it explores the roots and inspirations of the Detroit sound with loving authenticity.
Tue / 12 Dec 2017
01. Grandma's Radio feat. Soundboy
02. Return Of The Ghetto Fly feat. J Dilla
03. Keep Coming
04. It's Alright (Waajeed's Earl Flynn Remix)
05. Good Vibes
06. No Politics feat. Neco Redd
07. Through Your Soul feat. Bubz Fiddler & J Dilla
08. I'm Feeling You
09. Put Me In Your Pocket feat. The Dames Brown & Chris Bruce
10. Say So
11. It's Alright
12. I Get Moody Sometime feat. Moodymann
13. So Sweet (Louie Vega Remix)
14. It's Alright (Waajeed's Conant Gardens Remix)