Masterful and obscure 1970s funk and soul from Georgia and Alabama.
You’ve all heard of southern soul, but southern groove? Is it even a thing? All of the attention today on the great studios of the southern United Statest ends to focus on a certain sound, a geographically specific soul that flourished in the 1960s and 70s and faded as corporate radio playlists began to emphasise national over local appeal.
But that’s only part of the story. Studios such as Fame in Alabama and Stax in Memphis, and many others in between, produced music that took account of what was happening around the country, and in the 1970s added a big touch of funk to the mix. In what we hope to be the first in a series focusing on different cities, we have delved into the vaults of Atlanta, Georgia-based GRC and associate labels for a mix of previously unreleased tracks, club classics and connoisseur choices to create a thrilling compilation.
GRC was founded by underworld businessman Michael Thevis in an attempt to broaden and legitimise his interests. The company was well-funded, with its own recording studio and a wealth of great musical talent – especially after the purchase of Birmingham, Alabama-based Showtime Productions which brought in the songwriting skills of Sam Dees.
The artists and groups featured here range from those who became famous – soul diva Loleatta Holloway and the band Ripple – to southern soul legends and unsung artists such as David Camon and Family Plann having their day in the sun. Holloway features with her classic ‘Only A Fool’ and Ripple with their ‘I Don’t Know What It Is, But It Sure Is Funky’. Holloway’s husband Floyd Smith’s instrumental ‘The Bump’ re-uses her rhythm track to create a fine slice of proto-disco.
Previously unreleased selections include David Camon’s ‘Keep On Doin’ Your Funky Thing’ and Johnny Jacobs’ ‘Ain’t It Funky (Doing Your Own Thing)’, both of which are hard-hitting street funk. Family Plann’s ‘Let’s Dance’ is a slice of pre-disco which sits nicely alongside underground heroes Maggabrain’s ‘Down At The Disco’.
GRC went out of business at around the time Thevis was arrested for murder, which might be why so much unreleased music remained in the vaults. Floyd Smith signed Loleatta Holloway and Ripple to Salsoul where they both enjoyed success in the disco era. The time for southern groove had passed.