Considering the soundtrack achieved triple platinum sales, a number one R&B album of 1975 and third best pop selling album, the film flopped more than the popular athletic one named after Dick Fosbury. I spy with my cynical eye that the film nose dived because it really exposed how much the idea of “freedom and equality via the American Dream”, was really a smoke screen for it being America’s reality in the music industry nightmare. Harvey Keitel plays Buckmaster a cool Caucasian as a street wise edged, ears to the ground of the perfect sound record producer. He does however naively work for a scrupulous syndicated corporate music label. His vision is to make the locals talent of black musicians “The Group” played by Earth, Wind & Fire, a national crossover act, without selling out their integrity and natural essence of making good music.
The film shows the high flying ruthless head of the label juggling to keep his immediate boss an Italian Mafia mogul’s, content to continue his licence to print money payola and jukebox operations active. The discrimination and racism is blatant in how the Italian’s flexed their visible and invisible muscle, and would rather cater to the white audience with second rate “poop music”, from an all American clean living imaged talentless white act “The Pages”. This is preferred to the indigenous talent of the real “Shining Star” “black artists “The Group “ with no regard whatsoever for their welfare. The main “Reason’ being that the record company had them under a legally binding recording contract. Buckmaster (Harvey Keitel) is also under contract and is riddled with a not so “Happy Feelin’” to be working with “The Pages”, and realises he is compromised, and in one way or another he is damed whatever he does. The film is quite fast moving so don’t blink or you’ll miss some of the subtle key turning points of the films outcome.
This film does examine lots of dubious elements of control and legal documents, very much in the way America thrived during those hedonistic activities at the height of the “Africano” Slave trade. There is no disparage, if you check out the similarity. The human trafficking of an artist being regarded as personal property with legal papers to do as you wish exploiting their labour, is nothing less than swapping the cotton fields for the music industry arena. The ruthlessness means that Buckmaster is faced with succumbing to his bosses blackmailing demands, into shelving “The Group” to push the Pages into the global music stratosphere.
All the subliminal hurdles faced by the, more talent in one little finger, super band, “The Group”, are not even remotely visible for the no talent in all three bodies combined of “The Pages”. Velour “The Pages” ambitious female vocalist sets her amorous sights on young Buckmaster, who himself can “See The Light” of an opportunity in embracing her flirtatious prowess towards him. He’s tried to appeal to a few he respects better senses on what is right from wrong ethically and within the industry, but Buckmaster is now “Yearnin’, Learnin” and debating at the same time, how not to lose his integrity for what he has worked hard to preserve. Realising “Thats The Way Of The World “ he lives in, will Buckmaster sacrifices everything in his “All About Love” for the music plan to remain an honest man and take control of his and “The Group’s” destiny? It’s a very insightful film, that’s poignant in so many ways regarding the legacy of Maurice White and Earth, Wind & Fire, who just naturally play themselves. There is some very cool and intelligent piece of acting skills coming from Harvey Keitel and great production and direction from Sig Shore (Superfly fame). Written and inspired by the soundtrack song titles done in the Spirit of EWF.
This takes me “Back To School” like Bunny Wailer in 1978 freaking out in the school premises with the killer bass line and the strings of “Keep Your Body Working”, on repeat in my disco boogiefied mind. This anthology does capture a majority of the Kleeer catalogue minus a few I would have personally included. Naturally singles of the first album “Keep Your Body Working”, “Tonight’s The Night” and “I Love To Dance” are on here. I’m most pleased that the silent album sleeper, the sophisticated mellow boogie bullet “Happy Me” from the debut album’s is included . Also on CD 1 are the two major tracks off the second album “Winners” and the astral travelling “Open Your Mind”. Showing Kleeer’s diversity I was always partial to the rollocking funk boogie groove of “Get Tough” and the funk rocker “De Kleeer Ting”. Wayne Dickson who complied this opens on CD 2 with a favourite of mine, so much so I have the 7 inch, 12 inch with instrumental and album versions of “Taste The Music”. My question to you Wayne, with a smile I may add is, how could you leave off “I Shall Get Over” Wayne? This certainly journeys through Kleeer’s evolution of change as the years roll on, so by the 4th “Get Ready” album in 1982 their sound becomes slightly more psychedelic. There is a touch of ‘punk funk’ on the 12 inch cut of “She Loves Me” featuring Rick James on synths. By this time Woody Cunningham’s lead vocals are now a prominent feature and evident more so on the “Intimate Connection” album. With the exception of the funky “Break”, “Next Time It’s For Real”, the vocoder voiced “Tonight”, The inspiring “Go For It” and “You Did It Again” represent the mid 80’s moog classic 6th album. Kleeer’s final lucky 7th album showcases them embracing electro funk further, finishing of with “Take Your Heart Away”, my album fave “Never Cry Again” and a mellower “Lay Ya Down EZ”. Interviews with the remaining co founders Paul Crutchfield and Richard Lee document the east coast “Kleeer Ting” ethos with a heartfelt tribute to Woody Cunningham and Norman Durham who passed a year apart a few years ago. This certainly is a “Get Tough” anthology to have in your collection.
Eshe one of the gospel singing sisters family group The Escoffrey’s who sang “Look Whose Loving Me” on Atlantic, is sounding exceptionally good on her forthcoming debut solo single “Reazon”. She has for over 2 decades hiding in the background but comes to the forefront for 2016. It’s a mixture of world music African rhythms, ambient yet subtle drum and bass with a touch of spiritual soul. Eshe’s esoteric vocals and mystical vibes go on an inspiring rampage altering her octaves throughout the compositions 5 minutes of enjoyment. “Reazon” was released 19th December 2015 on Rebeat and is digitally distributed worldwide via iTunes, Amazon and Emusic. It’s producer is Phil Walters aka Simon Templa who‘ll be responsible for the forthcoming soul version to appear on Eshe’s forthcoming EP “Life Live Be Here”. Bringing her music to the masses with the force of mother nature and the universal language of soul sonic vibrations, Eshe gives you a “Reazon” to tap into that realm.
In the 1970’s just before and after the advent of “Star Wars” there was a futuristic space boogie disco sound that was championed by a few outfits like Magic Fly and Mandre that resonated with the club sonics of that period. Kim And Buran have regressed quite successfully in 2016 making that formular sound hip today. Strap on your seat belts for the albums take off with “Delayed Flight” taking you on an East To West “Voyage”, which incidentally is the title of track number four. Exploring jazz, soul, disco and electronic dimensions the awesome foursome have got it spot on with this predominantly instrumental album. Out of the 15 stand out cuts are “Breeze”, “Jet Disco”, “Taxi”, 80’s electro boogie “Modern Music” with vocoder at the ready. Good response on my “21st Century Intergalactic Black 2 Da Future Show” so get on this space boogie ship and “Glide” like Pleasure.
BBR release one of Chaka’s finest early 1980’s albums with a least 5 silver surfing bullets on there and 3 bonus cuts. It features various elements of Chaka’s dynamic range and musical tapestry. There are three covers. The first a Beatles classic “We Can Work It Out” and the second titled cut “What Cha Gonna Do For Me” written by The Average White Band’s Hamish Stuart. Track three is the boogie bullet “I Know You I Live You” with a reprise and a bonus remix included from her 1989 remix album. The third encounter of the cover kind is a brilliant rendition of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Nights In Tunisia” actually featuring Dizzy Gillespie. In the vein of her early Rufus, I’ve always loved “Any Old Sunday”. Alternative funkiness can be heard on “We Got Each Other” and the Stardust classic’s inspiration “Fate” is one not to sleep on. As bonus two B sides single cuts “Only Once” and “Lover’s Touch” showcase Chaka’s classy primal screaming octaves .
I have mixed views about this triple pack P&P release as there is at times no rhyme nor reason in the running order of this very versatile catalogue. That aside, although not all of it is to my personal liking, it does show the diversity that the respected P&P label hosted. With its comprehensive sleeve notes and artwork, written and complied by Bill Brewster it’s a weird at times and wonderful at others collection of the P&P subsidiaries Heavenly Star, Golden Flamingo, Sound Of New York and Queen Constance label siblings.
CD 1 opens with the classic Queen Yahna sweet disco boogie “Ain’t It Time” followed by two crazy rock and soul number’s “Black Ice” and “I’ve Been Working”. Between Eddie Owen and Florence Miller their songs have that Northern Soul fans flavour, whereas and Ella Hamilton throwbacks to that doo wop James Brown “Prisoner Of Love” power ballad era on “Here’s To You” . Much of the P&P catalogue that I know of has something uncouth or slightly sonically left of the right, in their recordings and productions but in an innocent but unconsciously unfashionable manner. Scott Davis Movements “Apple Jack” disco hustle groove typifies this. The most rough rugged and raw dirt gritted funk bomb has to be The Sentimental Souls “It’s Party Time With Getting In The Groove Pt 2 (Original 7″ Mix)”. Smokie Brooks social messaged “Long Time Ago” should not be overlooked by the way.
There is pure brilliance showcased on The Foster Jackson Group familiar “Feel The Spirit” and finishing CD 1, I’m enamoured by Margie Lomax’s mid tempo boogie fest “God’s Greatest Gift To Man Is Woman” . CD 2 and 3 concentrate predominantly on the merge between boogie hip-hop and rap. Some of the dated rapping sounds corny now because the lyrics at times are rehashed from The Sugar Hill Gang’s initial impact on party rap. Sherod “Schoolin”, Margo’s Kool Out Crew “Death Rap” and Sweet G “Boogie Feeling Rap” for me have the better consistent vocal flows.
There are different rappers Including Spooning G and Scoopy using Cloud Ones “Patti Duke” rhythm . Using The Rhythm Heritage’s “Theme from S.W.A.T” bass groove with occasional bongo breaks, Mistafide’s 11 minutes “Equidity Funk” ends CD 2 nicely. CD 3 is probably like Carlsberg the best consistent CD with the very funky uptempo “Roller Rink Funk” and a P funk influenced “Big Foot Boogie”. “This Is The Way To Break” is brilliant remnant of Run DMC’s “Sucker MC” and Little Starski “Gangster Rock” has a tasty instrumental groove with some ad libs. To close Little Scotty “Shout At The Disco” is a funky driven 4 floor groove which has a great break beat halfway through.
This album is quite a miss mash of black R&B, soul, funk, early disco, blues and jazzy music dichotomy during the late 1970’s. Early indications of a far departure from the more psychedelia of P Funk, Funkadelic sound infectiously raw and sublime instrumental “A Joyful Piece”. Early rap and ad-libbing is the remit of Oliver Sain’s “St Louis Breakdown” funky breakbeat inclusion. “Does Of Soul” from 1973 sounds like advanced mid 70’s disco and in contrast Idris Mohammad’s “I’m A Believer” with a very soulful female lead has hints of late 1950 early 1960s doo wop arrangements. There’s a 7 inch edit of Lonnie Liston Smith’s esoteric “Give Peace A Chance” that’s followed with an equally mystic trumpet and swirling moog synthesised “Skull Session” by Oliver Nelson. Check out the very sensual breathy vocals on “Mucho Macho” and in his true dramatic style Pretty Purdie excels on “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get”. There are at least two obscure socially conscious cuts “Chains Black & Blues” and an out of key vocally and instrumentation wise ‘Whats The Matter With The World’. Should find find some quality beats in this selection of twenty.
This is an album of excellence coming straight outta Brazil via Italy and the UK. Although like her collaborator Nicola Conti, Stefania Dipierro is Italian, she sings sensually both in English and a Brazilian dialect in the vein of Astrud Gilberto and Flora Purim. Full of bossa, samba and other latin influences, there is a touch of spiritualism resonating through the album which is quite a scoop for Far Out Records. It’s very classy with two nice and diverse version excursions of Gilberto Gil and Astrud Gilberto’s respective “Maracata Atomico” and “A Gira (Old Black Magic)”. The arrangements and production of this album is of a very high standard. It’s varied in tempo with hints of funk and soul within “I Feel The Sun” and “Natural” and some undeniably infectious dance tracks like “Open The Door”, “Ainda Mais”, “The Meaning Of Life” and “A Menina Danca”. Excellent purchase guaranteed!!
I’ll do my best two do an overview of 34 tracks spread over 3 cd’s and pick the highlights from the package. The production levels of this track vary somewhat in the difference between live music and studio input. So to open with a very musical and classic melodic “HeartBreaking – The Sound Principle” featuring the very accomplished vocals of Richard Anthony Roberts of When you Need My Lovin’ from 1997 is a good start. Daniel March’s “Falling” is sung on a very rhythmic drum, high hat dominating and percussive cow bell groove that’s very noticeable. Antwyn’s falsetto sung “Still” has hallmarks of Eric Roberson’s Right Back To You 70’s vibe and this is followed a few tracks later by The Sun Orchestra’s bump and hustle grooved “Can’t Deny It”. CD 2’s selection starts with a very Chic influenced “Call On Me” by The R&R Soul Orchestra which works effectively as does Tom Glide’s very smooth and architect built horns and keyboard dance mix of a great vocal from Candace Wooten’s “Free”. One of two well produced acoustic productions showcases Tony Momrelle and Tony Remy on a Spanish guitar vibe. Different Street and fellow Inconito vocalist and UK answer to Lady T, Katie Leone slithers smoothly on a very cool jazz soul tinged “Yellow Fever”. The most stand out tracks on the whole album, is Nigel Lowis’s superb Philly Salsoul essences remix of The Sensationelle “Crystal Clear to Me”. The vocal and musical synergy make this a very individual retro but contemporary piece of soul in my humble estimation. I commend Marc Staggers on his very true to the original cover of Luther’s “So Amazing” which fortunately didn’t go horribly wrong.
CD 3’s “Funky Mahoraja” feat Xantone Black is subltley funky with some retro deep background vocals that make a difference. Carmicheal Musiclover provides the steppers R&B lick with an all seasoned “Unconditional” and the better of two Ian Martin feat Jill Zadeh tracks included “One To One” evokes that 1990’s Total meets Davina old school vibe. I must say the last five wind down tracks from Aaron Parnell, Tracy Hamlin, Tyrone Lee are very infectious, calming and sensual. Dunn Street 1986 “Even A Fool” sounds so right amongst this contemporary selection accompanied by the live version of Kashif’s classic “Help Yourself to My Love” that concludes another eclectic Luxury Soul comp so it’s make ya mind up time like Hughie Green.
Freestyle Records have had a bit of a scoop here releasing the unofficially dubbed grandfather of Afrobeat, the legendary Ginger Johnson. With the aid of Ginger’s son Dennis Dee Mac Johnson this album gets an official reissue from its humble 1967 beginnings. “The African Party” incorporates African, Brazilian and Latin percussive rhythms with freestyle horns, drums and subtle bass interaction, that are quite hypnotic and spiritual calling. “Witchdoctor” and “Ire” conjure up various tribes ritual dancing imagery with its repetitive chants. “Talking Drum” carries much of the indigenous Afro elements embraced by Fela and Manu Dibango in the 1970’s, and has been given a respectful up to date remix that’s separately available soon outside this album mix. “Lord Morocco” reminds me of latin cuts I have from Eddie Palmieri. “A You Momma”, “Alege” and “Hi Life” are certain to cause a few hip replacement candidates queuing up after being consumed by they entrancing pulsating rhythms. Original Afro drum and bass in ya face. Essential!!