Album Reviews

Album Review: Troy Kingi & The Clutch - The Ghost of Freddie Cesar (AAA Records/Border)

Sam Smith

As far as ambitions in music go, there are not many bigger than those of  Troy Kingi. The Northland musician has set himself the heady task of recording ten albums in ten genres in ten years. No mean feet at all. Now, after releasing a guitar album, a p-funk album, and a roots reggae album, with The Ghost of Freddie Cesar, Kingi has gone full funk.

Dedicated to his father, who went missing in 2005, The Ghost of Freddie Cesar is Kingi’s most personal album to date and in many way acts as a concept album of sorts after Kingi found a tape in his father’s belongings with the name Freddie Cesar written on it.

Troy K Colour

Image Supplied

Song names were also written down on the back of this cassette and these form the basis of much of this album, laid down to the soundtrack of 70s-inspired funk. Think Curtis Mayfield, think The Meters, think Shuggie Otis, it is these sort of artists and their classic soul sound that Kingi and his twelve-piece band The Clutch take inspiration from in what is a horn drenched and guitar heavy album.

This is the closest so far in Kingi’s ten album series that his music has sounded like the work of a complete band and you can thank the musicianship of the likes of Guy Harrison (keys and horns), Marika Hodgson (bass), and Elijah Whyte (drums) for this.

Kicking off this funky affair is "Shake that Skinny Ass". This is New Orleans funk personified with a fizzing horn section and dense rhythm track that sets the groove from the get go. Meanwhile, the Mayfield-esque "Is the Honeymoon Gone?" is the second of a one-two funk punch that represents the perfect start to proceedings.

Things then get even more soulful, if such a thing is possible after the first two tracks with the falsetto-drenched electric guitar soaked "Caught in the Rain" and the excellent "Through my Venetians", a track that harks back to the space funk of Kingi’s 2017 album Shake That Skinny Ass All the Way to Zygertron.

"Chronophobic Disco" has shades of the Doobie Brothers about it with its opening shuffle guitar riff, while the bass riff on this floor filler oozes funk in a way that I am sure would have made even Bernard Edwards proud.

Kingi then gets into the psych blues rock vibe on "Nam Must Stay", a style he perfected on the first of his albums in this series and that he seems to effortlessly fall into. Kingi is a great guitar player as is shown on this track and it is this part of his many talents that doesn’t often get the kudos it deserves.

Finally, after a high voltage journey through funk and soul, the album winds down perfectly with the very catchy "Good Love", the quirky rhythms of "King of the Powder", and album single "All Your Ships Have Sailed", with its reggae-infused soul the perfect tonic to end on.

Four albums deep into his series and Kingi has so far managed to exceed all expectations musically speaking. He has managed to release four very distinctive albums and has stayed true to the blueprint of each being a completely different genre.

With The Ghost of Freddie Cesar, this is probably the most authentic sounding of the four records and arguably comes the closest to replicating the style on display. Kingi journeyed to one of the capitals of funk in New Orleans in preparation for making this album, and you can definitely tell this trip paid off in influencing the recording of the songs on display here.

This is the closest you are going to get to a genuine 70s funk record in the 21st century and it is fitting Troy Kingi is the man responsible for it. Kingi is a musical scholar as much as anything, and at this point it would be difficult to see anyone else even come close to attempting what he is doing on this ten-album journey, a journey that has only born fruit so far.

Buy/listen to The Ghost of Freddie Cesar  here


Troy Kingi & The Clutch will bring The Ghost of Freddie Cesar  to life at the following LIVE shows:  

22 October - Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival - Opera House - Hastings TICKETS

23 October - San Fran - Wellington (Final Tickets!)  TICKETS

24 October - Elemental AKL - Hollywood Avondale - Auckland TICKETS


22 January - Soundsplash Festival - Wainui Reserve - Raglan (Sold Out)

27 February - Electric Avenue Festival - Hagley Park - Christchurch

More dates to be announced. For ticketing info and updates, visit

Written By: Sam Smith When he is not writing for Radio 13 Sam works in media and journalism at 95bFM radio and the University of Auckland. He also has is own personal music blog Nowhere Bros.