Musical historians will sometimes tell you that Detroit died a sudden musical death at about the time that Berry Gordy’s eye was caught by the Californian sun and a beckoning Hollywood. Someone forgot to tell Detroit! In 1969 Holland, Dozier and Holland set up their Hot Wax and Invictus outfits while Armen Boladian’s Westbound Records opened up its doors as one of the most adventurous mainstream record labels to commit music to vinyl. Over the following decade it would release pop, jazz, sweet soul and some wonderfully deranged funk.
Armen Boladian was already a long-time fixture on the Detroit music scene when he launched Westbound, having run the Fascination label and his Record Distribution Corp was a well known local enterprise. Acts that passed through the Westbound doors include the Detroit Emerald, Denis LaSalle, the Ohio Players, Dennis Coffey, CJ & Company and Funkadelic. In the last twenty years or so, the label’s recordings have become fixtures as samples in the world of hip hop. Most casual music lovers will know more Westbound recordings than they think.
Westbound’s most important act is Funkadelic, who recorded eight albums for the label between 1969-1976, including the classics “Maggot Brain” and “Free Your Mind.”. These groundbreaking funk masterpieces have influenced generations of musicians, not just in funk, but in hip hop and rock too. George Clinton had put together a group of talented players still young enough and brave enough to experiment, and created some incredible music. Funkadelic’s guitarist Eddie Hazel is regularly ranked alongside Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix in guitar polls.
Denise LaSalle, the Detroit Emeralds and the Ohio Players gave the label big pop and R&B hits. LaSalle scored three top ten R&B hits in a row with ‘Trapped By A Thing Called Love’, ‘Now Run And Tell That’ and ‘Man Sized Job’. The Detroit Emeralds, who often recorded in Memphis with Willie Mitchell, had a similar level of success with ‘Do Me Right’, ‘Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms)’ and ‘You Want It, You Got It’ all making the top ten. In the UK they scored a Top 10 hit with ‘Feel The Need In Me’. The Ohio Players scored their first R&B #1 on Westbound with ‘Funky Worm’.
The Eastbound subsidiary began as a jazz label but later became an outlet for all sorts of wonderful and obscure singles. The jazz side was run by Bob Porter and features some amazing funky organ jazz from Houston Person, Caesar Frazier and the 19th Hole. Sought-after singles abound by Pleasure Web, the Houston Outlaws, Robert Lowe and many more.
Since the late 1980s Ace has been Westbound’s European licensee and we have diligently mined their vaults. All the big name artists have their albums available – in the case of both Funkadelic and the Ohio Players, in expanded editions – while we have also issued a variety of recordings from the edges of the catalogue which appeal to the specialist fan. If you want obscure funk, or Northern Soul you will find compilations that will suit your tastes.