The world needs changing? Well, we’re pretty sure it already has, and one of those changes is that we’re not quite as likely to release a various artists compilation on BGP as we used to. In-depth looks at some of our favourite artists are more the order of the day. Fortunately for those of you who like multi-artist collections, we’re sending a couple your way in the next two months, starting off with this wonderful look at black American music from the late 60s to the mid-1970s – basically from the start of funk to the rise of disco.
The music within brings together a cross section of great sounds that would grace – and in many cases already have – any DJ’s record box. Take Little Eva, whose medley of ‘Get Ready / Uptight’ was championed by Eddie Piller at Snowboy’s Goodfoot Night at Madam Jo Jo’s and is now a clubland staple. Willard Posey’s medley was a big Keb Darge spin at the same venue a decade earlier, whilst Esther Marrow’s wondrous vocal version of ‘Walk Tall’ has for a long time been one of my DJ secret weapons.
Some of our tunes haven’t really made it onto club playlists as they are too rare or simply unreleased. Hank Jacobs and Don Malone provide our title track, for many years an unheard release on the Call Me label. Huck Daniels’ creations are rarer than hen’s teeth, while Tina Bryant and George Jackson give us two previously unreleased cuts recorded at Fame’s short-lived Memphis-based studio. Elaine Armstrong, with the forceful ‘That’s The Way It Goes’, and Melvin Sparks conclude the tunes you will never have heard before.
There is some great funky soul from Cesar 830, Gil Scott-Heron and Darrow Fletcher with ‘Now Is The Time For Love’, one of his most underrated numbers. Lonnie Liston Smith’s ‘Expansions’ is well-known, but how often do you get to hear the crisp and succinct 7-inch version? Lonnie’s label Flying Dutchman tried to repeat his success with others and one of the best attempts, Brenda Jones and Groove Holmes’ ‘This Is The Me Me (Not The You You)’, is included here.
We’ve also got some fantastic instrumentals – or almost instrumentals – from jazz saxophonist Harold Alexander, Joe Savage and the Soul People and Funk Brother Johnny Griffith. Alexander’s break-beat heavy ‘Mama Soul’ is an explosive groove topped by some vibrant flute playing. Producer Bob Thiele’s group Emergency open things up with the filmic ‘Head Start’.
I’d like to say it’s all housed in the best sleeve we’ve done for a while, but that would be to do a disservice to our other recent releases, so let’s just say that this is just as good. I think you’ll be glad to have a new BGP comp in your home.
By Dean Rudland