There are few exceptions to the rule that charity records are never as good as the causes they promote. The Bottletop Band’s Dream Service, thankfully, belongs to that all-too-rare category. A collaboration between an impressive cast of musicians both U.K.-based (Super Furry Animals’ Gruff Rhys, the Charlatans’ Tim Burgess, and Eliza Doolittle, among others) and Brazilian, the album is a splendidly good-natured riot that honors the inclusive spirit of the charity it represents. (The Bottletop Campaign augments its promotion of education projects with encouragement of grassroots trade in the regions where they operate.)
The tracks for Dream Service were laid down in London and had their finishing touches applied in Rio, and you can hear the shifting poles in the eclectic, unpredictable music. The title track, featuring Rhys, recalls the funkier reaches of the Super Furries’ canon, while “Fall of Rome,” led by former Babyshambles bass player Drew McConnell, is a twinkling surf-country shuffle that resembles Marty Robbins reworked by Dick Dale. The show is just about stolen, however, by VV Brown’s “Voice”, a sunkissed slice of St Etienne-style Europop underpinned by a 21st-century take on Brazilian salsa. Most charity records are acts of slightly guilty noblesse oblige, but Dream Service is something else: a charity record people will buy not because they feel they ought to, but because they want to.