Like their heroes “The Clash” Sally’s Hat experiment with reggae, ska, dub, funk, rap, dance and rockabilly – creating a smooth pot-roast of greasy sounds. The band were playing the circuit some 15 years ago but recently reformed for what was meant to be a one-off reunion gig at the Ram Jam club in Kingston – but they reportedly had such a great time that they decided to try their luck gigging for the twenty first century boys (and girls).
Lisa Dimond is the lead vocalist with those sparkling sweet yet rasping high-tones and soulful, bluesy lows. Paul Worsley and Robin Dimond play guitars.The local Staines musician-cum-all-round hero, Ravi K, plays the bass and the great jazz/session player Dan Allsopp is on drums. We catch the band at The Hob, Staines.
The result is a warming stew of heated hot patootie, yet level-headed, pitch-perfect grooves. You have those Aretha sounding vocals sprawled amidst some reliable Tamla chops. You have Cuban stomping. You have Dave Clark Five-sounding back-beats with Dusty Springfield sounding lyrical notes. And you get goose bumps when that sweet, sweet sound of reggae music bleeds through the amplifiers. You even get caught out by the skanky vibes of the two-tone Lee “Scratch” Perry type steam reggae . All in all this band is a great treat for those who adore sensible crepe shoes, neat creases in their two-tonic strides and earnest vocals from a legendary singer whose delivery is as smooth as butter and who has a range as wide as that enjoyed by Clayton Moore (with Tonto.)
The first song out of Sally’s magic Hat was a groovy funk number, the second was a twangy Johnny Cash sing along song and after an enduring Franklyn cover I realized I was looking for a bit more passion and delivery from the band. I realize that the outfit is taking those awkward steps from practice session and friendly jam into ‘full on’ public performance – so I am happy to give them the benefit of the buzz. Sure, this material all sounds nice and serious in sessions and rehearsal – but the punters want a performance- and The Hat don’t quite have the fizz or the frizzle to percolate our expectations.
Never mind. It was all reliable and resilient stuff. Yes, maybe sometimes the performance lacked urgency or emotional involvement. But I cannot wait to see how this project progresses and I, for one, am glad to see this band back ‘in play’.