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Mighty Superfunk, LP (£14.19)
Mighty Superfunk is the newest release in our flagship compilation series. Since we opened with volume 1 in February 2000 we have followed the ups and downs of the worlds of funk clubbing and collecting. We have been digging deep into tape vaults, hunting down records of super-rare proportions and compiling them onto our 20 track masterworks. This time is no different with £1000 rarities rubbing shoulders with $10 dollar unknowns that we think are should-be-knowns, while we have got our grubby mitts around some amazing unreleased cuts that make this series completely unique. These are tracks that you really can not get any other way.
This time our gems from the vaults include the amazing JB-style funk groove of Kim Tamanga’s ‘Groovy Baby’. Ms Tamanga’s only release was the classic ‘Not By Bread Alone’ that appeared on George Goldner’s Firebird label. ‘Groovy Baby’ is from a little earlier but is again a Goldner production. Ocho’s version of Mr Brown’s ‘Hot Pants Road’ was a big floor filler in the early 90s; its creators, Bobby Marin and Chico Mendoza, are behind the version of ‘It’s Your Thing’ that we debut here by Los Africanos. It’s every bit as good. Our other tape discoveries are marvellous cuts by old Superfunk favourites Chet Ivey and 87th Off Broadway; then there’s Eleanor Rigby’s ‘Queen Of Losers’, a remake by Miles Grayson of Brenda George’s ‘I Can’t Stand It’, over its original backing track.
The super rarities on the set are Love Experience’s ‘Are You Together For The New Day?’, the most in-demand item on the funk scene today. Gloria Lucas’ awesome sister funk groove ‘One Sweet Song’ would be too, if anyone could get hold of copies. The Phillips Brothers’ ‘Who Stole My Cookie’ is an established funk rarity, the Now single simply never turns up. Not quite as rare but astoundingly brilliant are the two singles that we have from the Cle-An-Thair label. The label was owned by Cleveland Eaton, jazz bassist and member of the Ramsey Lewis rhythm section at the time they were scoring their big hits in the mid to late 60s. Cleveland turns up with the string-led ‘It’s Mookie Time’ and backs the full-voiced Mary Alice McCall on the sumptious ‘I’m Moving Home’. Both these sides, as with much of Cleveland’s work, were arranged by Chess Records’ legend Richard Evans.
Right Track is not the place for a track-to-track breakdown but, from the pile of should-be-knowns, we should draw your attention to a small number. For example Mr Jamo (Jamo Thomas) is simply insane on the heavy groove of ‘Shake What You Brought With You’. Marie Franklin melds gospel and funk to great effect on her one-off 45 for Westbound. Not sure what to make of the magnificent Joe Haywood’s very great slice of New Orleans groove, ‘(Play Me) A Cornbread Song’, proto funk or 60s R&B. I guess at the end of the day it doesn’t matter as long as it fires – which it does.
So not just another Superfunk, because such a thing doesn’t exist. We relish the opportunity to find more and more undiscovered, heavy danceable funk. We hope that you enjoy listening to it equally.
By Dean Rudland