The whole world of funk collecting has changed as people dig deeper into regional American styles and research more obscure titles. This interest has been reflected by regional-specific compilation CDs that have in-depth notes that had previously been the domain of the soul and R&B worlds. The next step is looking at the works of specific labels and studios. There have been great releases such as the story of Saadia Records and Dave Hamilton’s obscure Detroit recordings To these, BGP is proud to add the work of Leo Kulka’s Golden State Recorders studio in San Francisco, the pre-eminent studio of the era.
The San Francisco Bay Area’s rich musical mix produced some of the best funk and funky soul recordings of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The earthy traditions of the region’s blues and jazz scene, along with the unavoidable rock influence of the psychedelic ballrooms, created a distinctly flavoured brand of funk, most eloquently expressed by the pioneering multi-ethnic grooves of Sly & The Family Stone.
Over the past decade Ace has released several CDs-worth of material recorded at Golden State Recorders. While some funk tracks slipped out on BGP comps, such as “Superfunk”, it is only since the purchase of the studio’s assets and Alec Palao’s extensive tape and archive research, that it’s clear quite how extensive Kulka’s funk recordings were. Incredibly rare funk singles by the likes of the Windjammers, Love Experience and Mel Davis will no doubt catch the eye of the hard-core collector, but this highly listenable compilation can also boast that over half its contents are unreleased, with some red-hot sounds from 87th Off Broadway, 60s soul thrush Ramona King and future Janis Joplin sideman Snooky Flowers.
Records such as the San Francisco TKOs’ Herm and Wally Cox’s Zu Zu are established floor-fillers and currently one of the biggest records and most sought-after rarities is the Love Experience’s $700 Are You Together For The New Day?, which was released on the Cherry Red label, while the previously unreleased cuts by 87th Off Broadway are stirring up interest. This is slamming Bay Area funk that is sure to provide more DJ-friendly ammunition.
By Dean Rudland