Mark Cotgrove is an imposing figure, tall with the physique of a man who has made his living for the last 20 years hitting things. The ‘things’ in this case are various percussion instruments - most notably the congas. Mark is one of the country’s top players, and is in constant demand for session work. If you get talking to him about old soul, jazz dance or his favourite alternative rock records, you will be swept away. He has always performed under the name Snowboy, using this name on records since his debut, Bring On The Beat, a Washington Go-Go-style funk release on his local Arc label in 1985. Throughout the 1990s, as well as sideman duties, his main musical thrust was the Latin band Snowboy & the The Latin Section, who released four albums on Acid Jazz. The third, “Something’s Coming”, sold nearly 40,000 copies, and led to Mark featuring on the front cover of several magazines, including the dance magazine, DJ.
Since 1991 Mark has had a double life as a recording artist. In addition to the Latin material, he’s made a series of incredible soul and funk records issued on critically acclaimed singles, and culminating in the release of his 1996 album “The Many Faces Of Snowboy”. As the singles were recorded over a series of years, and for three different labels, this is the first time that they have ever been gathered together on one CD. As someone who not only worked on some of these records when they were first issued, but loved them musically, it is an honour to pull them all together.
Featuring Girl Overboard, Lucky Fellow, Give Me The Sunshine and Where Love Lives the re-imagining of 70s soul that utilised the combined talents of the JTQ and the wonderful voices of Noel McKoy – described by Snowboy as the UKs greatest soul vocalist – and Anna Ross. They all saw extensive club play and Lucky Fellow was revived just two years ago as a 7” selling several thousand copies.
Of the instrumental sides we have the classic Astralisation, the finest recreation of the Mizell Brothers cosmic groove sound ever realised by a British producer. Then there is the frenetic reworking of The New Avengers which Keb Darge made into a true Deep Funk classic, and the often overlooked Funky Djembe which should have been one too.
Apart from a single on Freestyle Records in 2004 – El Padrino by MFOS – which we include here for completism and because it is a damn good track, “The Many Faces Of Snowboy” was the last of Snowboy’s funk and soul projects. It was an intense period for the artist and maintaining two completely separate musical identities must have been draining to say the very least. However the results from that period show a resultant blossoming of creativity on both sides of his music and we are left with some of the finest soul and funk of the 1990s. Look out for our compilation of his Latin recordings next year.
By Dean Rudland