In the late 1990’s, guitarist and producer Eddie Roberts was promoting a club night in Leeds called “The Cooker.” When The Cooker moved into a new venue with a second floor in 1999, there was space and the opportunity to put a live band together to complement the DJ sets. Simon Allen and Eddie had previously played together as The Mastersounds, though with a different bassist and no organ. Through friends and the intimate nature of the Leeds music scene, Pete Shand and Bob Birch were added on bass and Hammond respectively, and The New Mastersounds were born. Though it was raw, and more of a boogaloo sound at first, it was powerful from the start. Their first rehearsal was hot enough for Blow it Hard Records to release on two limited-edition 7” singles in 2000.
Fast-forward 19 years, and the band’s recorded catalogue boasts 24 more 7” singles, 13 studio albums, 3 live albums, 1 remix album and 3 compilation albums, released variously in UK, Japan, and USA - where they continue to tour extensively. Joe Tatton, another veteran of the Leeds scene, joined back in 2007, replacing Bob Birch on organ and piano.
As a band, and as individuals, they have collaborated with an impressive array of musicians, DJs and producers, including: Lou Donaldson, Corinne Bailey Rae, Quantic, Keb Darge, Kenny Dope, Mr Scruff, Lack of Afro, Page McConnell, Grace Potter, Karl Denson, Melvin Sparks, Idris Muhammad, Fred Wesley, Pee-Wee Ellis, Maceo Parker, Bernard Purdie, George Porter Jr, Zigaboo Modeliste, Art Neville, Ernest Ranglin.
During a 2018 US tour, a sit-in by Atlanta-based vocalist Lamar Williams Jr turned heads, and the fit with NMS was so right that they pledged to make a record together. The resulting album, Shake It, was written and recorded in Denver, Colorado in December of that year, and released September 13, 2019 on Eddie Roberts’ own Color Red record label. Lamar is now touring with the band, and when he’s not singing, he’s shaking a mean tambourine.
As an example of the respect this band commands, Peter Wermelinger - DJ, collector, and author of the crate-diggers’ bible The Funky & Groovy Music Lexicon - places the 2001 NMS track ‘Turn This Thing Around’ in his all-time top-ten tunes, along with the likes of Eddie Harris, Funkadelic, and Herbie Hancock. The New Mastersounds are at the very top of an elite selection of acts that bring the true soul out of funk.