Music

Ranky Tanky Deliver a 'Good Time'

Photo: Frank Edwards / Shore Fire Media

Ranky Tanky honor the Gullah culture of their South Carolina ancestors, even as they update that culture for the 21st century on Good Time.

Good Time
Ranky Tanky

Resilience Records

12 July 2019

Anyone alive and old enough to remember 1979 will probably tell you that it was a strange year. An extended hostage situation, an energy crisis, crazed and drunken folks smashing up disco records during a baseball game in Chicago. 1979 was just plain weird. During the summer of '79, Chic had one of the biggest hits of the year, "Good Times", in which they noted amid all the weirdness that, "these are the good times". The lesson: when times are strange or bad, you still need to find and celebrate the good times, even if you need to create the good times on your own.

Fast forward 40 years. 2019 has been, to many people, a strange and disconcerting year. Now, in the middle of the year, South Carolina band Ranky Tanky have graced us with their second album, Good Time. As Ranky Tanky advises on the new album's killer title track, "Good time, a good time / We gonna have a time."

The South Carolina Lowcountry soul of Ranky Tanky's "Good Time" is musically light-years away from Chic's urbane dance floor soul, but the message is essentially the same. Life can be rough, but it is essential to create your own good times. Even if Ranky Tanky's "Good Time" doesn't climb the charts as Chic's "Good Times" did, it is every bit as successful at delivering the message. And, in 2019, every bit as necessary.

The ostensible roots of Ranky Tanky can be traced back to the College of Charleston, South Carolina, where Quentin E. Baxter (drums/album producer), Kevin Hamilton (bass), Clay Ross (guitar/vocals), and Charlton Singleton (trumpet/vocals) met while studying music in the 1990s. During their school years, the friends formed a jazz quartet called Gradual Lean but split to pursue individual careers. The college friends reunited in 2016 and brought in vocalist Quiana Parler to form Ranky Tanky. From the beginning, the purpose of the band has been to draw on the Gullah culture that originated among the descendants of enslaved Africans in South Carolina's Lowcountry. Four of Ranky Tanky's band members have deep family roots in Gullah culture. The band's name is a Gullah expression that roughly means "get funky".

The music of Ranky Tanky is fully informed by the Gullah culture but Good Time never once comes across as a dull history lesson or lecture. The truth is that the heartache, joy, and sheer beauty so apparent in every groove of Good Time contains everything you need to know about the members of Ranky Tanky and their Lowcountry ancestors

Ranky Tanky doesn't focus on a meticulous recreation of traditional Gullah music, which used only a cappella voices and body percussion. While the album's charming closing track, "Shoo Lie Loo" does indeed feature only vocals and percussion, the rest of the album adds jazzy guitar and trumpet solos to the intricate vocals and percussion tracks that represent the Gullah sound. The band is loose and fun throughout, and Quiana Parler's vocals are breathtaking. Throughout the album, from the thoughtful gospel tune "Stand by Me" (not the Ben E. King song) through to "Shoo Lie Loo", the songs seem to live at the magic place where soul, jazz, gospel, and threads of other Americana-based music intersect.

Ranky Tanky's Good Time is a beautiful piece of work that honors the Gullah culture while successfully updating it for the 21st century. Good Time is indeed a good time, but it is so much more. Good Time is a supremely soulful album, in every sense of the word "soulful".

8
Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Film

Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.

Television

Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.

Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Music

The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.

Music

The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.

Music

Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.

Music

​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.

Music

John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".

Music

Roots Rocker Webb Wilder Shares a "Night Without Love" (premiere + interview)

Veteran roots rocker Webb Wilder turns back the hands of time on an old favorite of his with "Night Without Love".

Film

The 10 Best Films of Sir Alan Parker

Here are 10 reasons to mourn the passing of one of England's most interesting directors, Sir Alan Parker.

Music

July Talk Transform on 'Pray for It'

On Pray for It, Canadian alt-poppers July Talk show they understand the complex dualities that make up our lives.

Music

With 'Articulation' Rival Consoles Goes Back to the Drawing Board

London producer Rival Consoles uses unorthodox approaches on his latest record, Articulation, resulting in a stunning, beautiful collection.

Film

Paranoia Goes Viral in 'She Dies Tomorrow'

Amy Seimetz's thriller, She Dies Tomorrow, is visually dazzling and pulsating with menace -- until the color fades.

Music

MetalMatters: July 2020 - Back on Track

In a busy and exciting month for metal, Boris arrive in rejuvenated fashion, Imperial Triumphant continue to impress with their forward-thinking black metal, and death metal masters Defeated Sanity and Lantern return with a vengeance.

Books

Isabel Wilkerson's 'Caste' Reveals the Other Kind of American Exceptionalism

By comparing the American race-based class system to that of India and Nazi Germany, Isabel Wilkerson makes us see a familiar evil in a different light with her latest work, Caste.

Film

Anna Kerrigan Prioritizes Substance Over Style in 'Cowboys'

Anna Kerrigan talks with PopMatters about her latest film, Cowboys, which deviates from the common "issues style" approach to LGBTQ characters.

Music

John Fusco and the X-Road Riders Get Funky with "It Takes a Man" (premiere + interview)

Screenwriter and musician John Fusco pens a soulful anti-street fighting man song, "It Takes a Man". "As a trained fighter, one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned is to walk away from a fight without letting ego get the best of you."

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.