For a short time in the mid 90’s, Findlay Quaye seemed to be the future. With a first class family pedigree, he was the son of jazz pianist Cab Kaye, brother of guitarist Caleb Quaye and uncle of Trip Hop enigma Tricky. His 1997 debut album Maverick a Strike seemed to be everywhere. The UK was still in the grip of Britpop mania and here comes a 23-year-old kid, with a major label deal who’s fusing reggae, jazz and soul but with an indie edge. Everyone went for it hook, line and sinker. And I mean everyone. From Indie Kids, Rude Boys to Skins. In those inevitable ‘All back to mine’ moments that followed a club or a show, Maverick a Strike was de rigueur.
However, with the world at his feet and awards on his shelf, Quaye began to unravel. Single Spiritualized from his second album Vanguard in 2000 would be the last time he’d see a charting single in the UK. There were no shows at concerts, booed off stage when he did show up, bankruptcy and assault charges. He is however, still writing, performing and recording. His downward spiral taking a brief upturn in 2004 when single Dice with William Orbit and Beth Orton featured in Fox Network’s The OC. Appearing on the Season 1 Soundtrack and becoming a minor US hit. But nothing has come close to the magic of Maverick a Strike.
Album opener Ultra Stimulation is a statement of intent. With Dub beats and staccato guitars that drift into blues territory. All backed with I-Three’s style harmonies. Biggest single from the record, It’s Great When We’re Together continues the sound fusion with it’s laid back jazz groove and classic Hammond sound, buttressed with uplifting choruses.
First single from the album Sunday Shining is a modern take on Bob Marley’s Sun is Shining. It crashes in with its angular guitar, background fuzz, and powerful horn section and is instantly anthemic. Maverick A Strike moves through all its gears. From the mellifluous Even After All and jazz tinged Falling. To the brown note Dub of The Way of The Explosive
If this album does have a weak spot, it’s the stream of consciousness Ride On and Turn The People On, but it’s still not that weak. The bouncing, feel good guitar of Your Love Gets Sweeter Everyday brings us back around. Before the dark, Trip Hop beat of Supreme I Premi. Evoking the sound of the Bristol scene that his nephew Tricky was instrumental in. While Red Rolled and Seen is almost carbon of Massive Attack’s Karma Coma. There’s a pop reggae Paragons sound in Sweet and Loving Man and an almost John Squiresque moment as I Need A Lover blends jazz elements with a reversed feedback Stone Roses style guitar. Finishing the album with its title track, Maverick A Strike has the jazz percussive sound of the Last Poets or an early Gil Scott Heron.
Maverick A Strike was a must have album for anyone in 1990’s Great Britain. Its genius laid in its versatility. It was both intimate and toweringly feel good at the same time. Like Zero 7’s Simple Things some 4 years later. You couldn’t go a week without hearing it somewhere. But it never, ever wore thin. It stands up to the test of time but serves as reminder of the unfulfilled potential of a maverick artist.