BACK 2 DA ROOTS (DISCO, FUNK, SOUL, & OTHER ILLICIT GROOVES)
Here we go for the second delivery of this column, not that so out of date at the end of the day, judging by the consistantamount of represses, reedits, remixes if not cover versions around. The only thing being for what concerns us that we talk about nothing here but originals. Ooooh I know ! Some of you may not give a sh** about this for the moment, considering that the main thing is to get the sound on itself, should it be via mp3, not the mention the astronomic cost of some references around. This said, and once again, nothing will ever replace the original edition as it’s currently the same like say a piece of furniture or any other thing as opposed to a copy. In other words, dated fragments of art as opposed to sort of hype directed reproductions. True, this may seem somehow expensive but aren’t we talking about goods which have a true value ? And I gotta say that investing on such things ends up being cheaper at the end of the day than putting money on reproductions, simply because what you acquire in the first case is a part of History. And what an History ! Those who’ve been around during the ol’daze of disco will no doubt understand what I’m saying when affirming that displaying a vintage 12’’ on a daily basis during a whole year wouldn’t be enough to have an exhaustive coverage of what was currently hot at this precise period and I’m not even talking about the different trendz which would see the light right after like early hip hop, smurf, breakdancing, disco/funk, swingbeat, brit soul, early house, acid jazz, new jack swing and the list goes on. Well, thanks God, as I would be brought to these sounds since my years as a teen by dope connoisseurs who gave me the necessary links to make my own idea while providing me with new sounds and teaching me as far as reading the credits on the sleeve was concerned. There, with a bit of knowledge, you could make yourself a quite precise idea of what to expect without even hearing the record as each single name, be it an artist, a musician, a producer and eventually a label was synonymous with the notion of identity and when I’m talking about identity, I mean a strong one.
One the last issue of the likes I mentioned the Philadelphia Sound, some of its ambassadors and its main mentors : producers Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff and I gotta say that this period remains one of the more exciting I’ve ever known in terms of creativity and brilliance as shown by the numerous stuff they would put out on their PIR label in the mid 70’s as if their sound was embodying ‘One Nation Under A Groove’ as sung later on by Funkadelic ! They in the meantime symbolized what was soon to become the establishment of production teams such as William Casey Finch (KC & The Sunshine Band, George McCrae) Randy Muller (Garnett Mims, Brass Construction, Skyy, Funk Deluxe…), Maurice White (Earth, Wind & Fire, The Emotions), Barry White (Love Unlimited Orchestra), Narada Michael Walden (Wanda, Stacy Lattisaw, Margie Joseph), Leon Sylvers III (The Whispers, Shalamar, Dynasty…), Jim Douglass (Slave, Odyssey) although on their own… but also Nile Rodgers & Bernard Edwards better known as Chic (Norma Jean, Sister Sledge) Fred Jacques Petrus & Mauro Malavasi (Change, BB&Q Band, High Fashion) and the list goes on… In France, Jacques Morali and Henri Belolo (Village People, Patrick Juvet…). All of them being instantly i-den-ti-fi-a-ble !
The other particularism of this sound is that not only was it the first ever to be destined to the clubs, but also was it made by classically trained musicians as shown locally (in Phila) by the regular contribution of instrumentists who, in the meantime, would have regular jobs at the local Philharmonic Orchestra. This being for much on the timeless side of those compositions some 30 years after their compositions and the regular links and tributes (remember the Nuyorican Soul album most notoriously), when not thefts made to them year after year on today’s production.
If a genre never died, it would be disco, should it be under the form of danceable R&B as described by West End Records CEO Mel Cheren and later on house with contributions of people such as Joey Negro, Bobby & Steve, Paul Trouble Anderson, Danny Krivit following there a path opened by Larry Levan, Tom Moulton, Tee Scott, Shep Pettibone and the likes. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. MFSB
BACK 2 DA ROOTS TENNERZ
THE TRAMMPS Love Epidemic (Golden Fleece/PIR)
The very first of a killing groove series alongside ‘Disco Inferno’, That’ Where The Happy People Go’ and ‘Soul Bones’
PEOPLE’S CHOICE Do It Anyway (PIR)
And they did it, no doubt !
PATTI JO Ain’t No Love Lost (Scepter)
A Curtis Mayfield classic jewel
THE INTRUDERS I’ll Always Love My Mama (PIR)
All the Philadelphia Sound ingredients gathered on this song
MAIN INGREDIENT Happiness Is Just Around The Bent (RCA)
As redone later on by Cuba Gooding J rand British outfit
BLUE MAGIC Welcome To The Club (Atco)
A Larry Levan’s classic with vocal parts and arragements reminding much of The Stylistics
GEORGE McCRAE Rock Your Baby (T.K. Disco/RCA)
A song which, added to ‘Gimme Some’ would put William ‘KC’ Finch’s protegees on the path to stardom
THREE DEGREES Dirty Ol’Man (PIR)
Their absolute must
HUES CORPORATION Rock The Boat (Rock The Boat)
Same comment as for the previous one
THE O’JAYS I Love Music (PIR)
A title speaking for itself and one of the numerous Tom Moulton’s post production