Bob Shad’s Mainstream Records is one of the great unsung US independent labels of the 60s and 70s. Shad, who made his name as an executive at Mercury, set up on his own in the early 60s and debuted Mainstream a few years later. Over the next decade the imprint covered jazz, latin, psychedelic rock, soul and funk. In recent months, across the various Ace labels, we have started to focus on the Mainstream repertoire. We’ve done our bit at BGP with the deep jazz compilation “A Loud Minority” and the Alice Clark “Complete Studio Recordings” CD, both greatly enhanced by wonderful photographs from the Mainstream archive.
Our latest release is “The Message: Soul, Funk And Jazzy Grooves From Mainstream Records”, which looks into the wide variety of club-based cuts that appeared on the label in the early to mid-70s. It takes in the full range from organ jazz, via deep funk instrumentals, to amazing female vocalists belting out dance floor classics. Some of these records have been sampled and are considered collector’s items. Many come from obscure 45s or albums that have rarely if ever been reissued.
The collection opens with Chubukos, a team of crack New York session musicians whose ‘House Of Rising Funk’ is a funk classic much loved by old school hip hoppers as a DJ tool. They also appear as Afrique with an astounding version of ‘Soul Makossa’ that gives the Manu Dibango version a run for its money. Other out and out funk grooves are present in the form of the Funky Boys’ instrumental ‘I Need Somebody’ and the Delegates’ obscure Hammond grind ‘Funky Butt’. Blue Mitchell and Charles Kynard offer jazz interpretations of funk classics by Cymande, Joe Quarterman and Aretha Franklin – recordings that really sound fantastic turned up loud. Dave Hubbard delivers a smooth funk take on the Staple Singers’ ‘Respect Yourself’ and the extended jazz funk of ‘Patience’, while Charles Williams gives us two chunks of gritty organ and horn-based groove.
Groovy funk-soul is served up by Ellerine Harding with two cuts from her hard to find “Ellerine” album, including the raucous ‘All I Need’, and Maxine Weldon’s version of ‘Grits Ain’t Groceries’ is stunning. We’ve also included Alice Clark’s magnificent dance floor winner ‘Never Did I Ever Stop Loving You’, Sarah Vaughan’s supremely chilled take on Marvin Gaye’s ‘Inner City Blues’ and label boss Bob Shad’s big band tackling the Jackson 5’s ‘I Want You Back’ in an outrageous style.
By Dean Rudland