A couple of weeks ago a box lot came up on Trademe that looked like something I didn’t want to let get away, namely: “100 x 7" Singles ORIG Soul Funk Disco”.
I figured that even though there’s bound to be a load of rubbish, there’s likely to enough in there to hold my attention:
Despite some disappointment on my part, (BT Express are named as being one of the singles here and I’ve not found them), I’ve done an initial sift and whilst there’s a load that’ll be going back on sale shortly (not least 80’s pop and some bandwagon jumping Hansa Studios Euro-disco) there's enough here to keep me reasonably happy. Frustratingly, there’s also two copies of three of the good tunes that I decided to keep. (I’ve nothing against keeping doubles of things, but one of those singles I’ve already got three of…)
This afternoon I sat and went through them. This is the order that the singles that I chose to keep came out of the box:
Graham Central Station ‘My Radio Sounds Good To Me’ Warner Brothers 7” Single
It’s Larry Graham, more than anything else. I’ve actually kept this for the B-Side (‘Turn It Out’), which exhibits some of the amazing funk bass playing that made Larry Grahams name in Sly & The Family Stone.
The Brothers Johnson ‘Love Is’ A&M 7” Single
Again, kept for a stronger B-Side ‘Right On Time’. If I could get, ‘Strawberry Letter 23’, (probably first heard by my generation on the soundtrack for the movie, ‘Jackie Brown’) I’d be rather happy. (The tune was later sampled on Outkast’s ‘Ms. Jackson’).
Barry White ‘It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me’ 20th Century 7” Single
Famously sampled on Robbie Williams ‘Rock DJ’ but don’t let that put you off.
The Blackbyrds ‘Happy Music’ Fantasy 7” Single
Agreeably cheesy vocal R&B on the A-Side and possibly something for a “Quiet Storm” type mix, ‘Love Is So Fine’ on the B. Sadly not quite ‘Rock Creek Park’ (from 1975, which is one of the most sampled tracks in hip-hop) but hey, I’ve only just opened the box.
Michael Jackson ‘Rock With You’ Epic 7” Single
Off his classic, Quincy Jones produced, ‘Off The Wall’ LP and here in mint condition.
The Jacksons ‘Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground) Epic 7” Single
After leaving Motown, the Jackson 5 changed their name to The Jacksons and, keeping up with the times, went disco. This is just before Michael did ‘Off The Wall’ and shows his developing solo vocal style. (“ee-hee” etc.)
Stargard ‘Theme Song From “Which Way Is Up”’ MCA Records 7” Single
Norman Whitfield written and produced theme song from a Richard Pryor movie: what’s not to like? Was apparently on a Studio 54 themed compilation LP, which does little to convince me that it was ever played there, but who knows. It’s very Norman Whitfield, which is fine by me.
Chic ‘Le Freak’ Atlantic 7” Single
I think this qualifies as the third copy of this that I own on vinyl. I have a repress 12” and another contemporary 7” with a different label. That means that I’m keeping it. The B-Side is ‘Savoir Faire’, which I think is also different.
Dorothy Moore ‘Misty Blue’ RCA 7” Single
Soul single from 1975 but sounds like it’s from earlier. Later covered by Mary J. Blige.
Shalamar ‘The Second Time Around’ RCA 7” Single
‘Right In The Socket’ by Shalamar is on the ‘Larry Levan: Live At The Paradise Garage’ compilation that Strut put out. This is a bit cheesier than that, but it’s alright. I’ve got a later Solar Records 12” of theirs called ‘Circumstantial Evidence’, which is thinly veiled Prince plagiarism. One imagines times got a bit tight after the whole, “Disco sucks” thing for a while.
The Emotions ‘Flowers’ CBS 7” Single
Produced by Maurice White out of Earth, Wind & Fire. Really pretty girl harmony R&B.
Earth, Wind & Fire ‘Fantasy’ CBS 7” Single
A classic. This has clearly been in a DJ’s box (it’s got “Disco – fast”, written on the A-Side and “Slow”, written on the flip). How much easier things must have been in those pre-beat matching (at least outside of New York…) days.
Chaka Khan ‘Life Is A Dance (Edit) Warner Brothers Records 7” Single
Chaka, without Rufus, but still in full on funk mode. The B-Side ‘Some Love’ is pretty good too.
The Brothers Johnson ‘Runnin’ For Your Lovin’’ A&M 7” Single
This has got some pretty awesome Moog’ing on the intro and is produced in inimitable style by Quincy Jones. This is off their second LP, ‘Right On Time’, which I don’t have. (I’ve got their next two LP’s though, which are great).
Barry White ‘What Am I Gonna Do With You’ 20th Century Fox Records 7” Single
Absolute belter. Next!
Lee Garrett ‘You’re My Everything’ Chrysalis 7” Single
A bit cheesy, but I’ve kept it on the basis that Lee Garrett co-wrote ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours’ by Stevie Wonder, which I love.
Esther Phillips ‘What A Diff’rence A Day Makes’ Kudo/CTI Records 7”
A disco-fied over of the Dinah Washington classic by Esther Phillips, who’s probably better known for her 1950’s sides as Little Esther and 60’s R&B under her own name. I’m really keen to find, ‘Home Is Where The Hatred Is’, which proceeds this and was written by none other than Gil Scott Heron.
Hot ‘Angel In Your Arms’ Big Tree/WEA Records 7”
A three piece white/black/Hispanic female vocal group (not a big thing now, but would have been in the mid-seventies). The A-Side was apparently a big hit, but the good one here’s ‘Just ‘Cause I’m Guilty’ on the B-Side, which is a decently chugging vocal funk tune.
Rose Royce ‘Love Don’t Live Here Anymore’ Warner Brothers 7” Single
I now own three versions of this on 7” (as well as a copy on 12”). It might be time to get rid of a couple. Maybe.
Roberta Flack ‘The Closer I Get To You’ Atlantic 7” Single
Not billed on this release as the duet that it is, but features Donny Hathaway, whose ‘The Ghetto’ is one of my absolute all-time favourite tracks. Roberta, as always, makes it sound absolutely effortless.
Chic ‘Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)’ Atlantic 7” Single
I got Nile Rodgers autobiography (‘Le Freak’) for Christmas this year. I don’t think is as well-known as many of their others, but it’s still Chic. It’s also got a really good breakdown.
Sister Sledge ‘We Are Family’ Atlantic 7” Single
I’ve stuck everything else even approaching this cheesy in the re-sell box, but this was written and produced by Niles Rodgers and Bernard Edwards from Chic, so makes the grade based on that alone.
The Spinners ‘The Rubberband Man’ Atlantic 7” Single
I’ve got an amazing Spinners live-LP. A great, all-encompassing soul-revue of a band. It’s The Spinners, so it’s in. A bit of research tells me that the backing band on it is MFSB. It’s definitely in.
Johnny Guitar Watson ‘I Need It’ DJM Records 7” Single
You had me at ‘Johnny Guitar Watson’. A blues great, whom had a strange second wave of fame by donning a pimp suit and going disco. (In the best possible way).
Ray Charles ‘Georgia On My Mind’ W&G/Ampar Records 7” Single
I bought this bundle thinking it would be a mix of ‘60’s/70’s releases but this is the only ‘60’s release that I’ve yet come across. Jamie Foxx didn’t quite manage to ruin Ray Charles for me, though he came close.
Stevie Wonder ‘Bonus Record For “Songs In The Key Of Life”’ Motown 7” EP. (1.Saturn 2.Ebony Eyes 3. All Day Sucker 4. Easy Goin’ Evening)
I’ve bought ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’ for a couple of people over the years, but only just (a few weeks back) got myself a copy. Disappointingly, this was missing from it. As I’ve said before, you make your own luck as a record collector. One complete version coming up….
Spinners ‘Working My Way Back To You’ Atlantic 7” Single
It’s later, after the departure of Philippé Wynne and a lot more pop than it’s R&B, but it’s still the Spinners, after all.
Meco ‘Empire Strikes Back (Medley): Darth Vaders/Yoda’s Theme’ RSO Records
About 12 years ago, me and some friends tried to get a live trip-hop band off the ground. Our DJ had an amazing disco 7” remix record with Star Wars themes on it, that he used to scratch with. I don’t think this is it, or it’s as good as the one that he had, but I’m sure that it’ll find its way onto a tape at some point. Incidentally, biggest regret of my record collecting life: before I seriously started collecting records, I had a BBC Phonographic Workshop 7” of the original Dr. Who theme tune. I gave it to that same DJ.
Chaka Khan ‘I’m Every Woman’ Warner Brothers 7” Single
I’ve already got this on 12”, but different formats don’t count.
High Inergy ‘You Can't Turn Me Off (In The Middle Of Turning Me On)’ Motown 7” Single
I’ve seen this credited to both “High Energy” and “High Inergy”. The single here is on Motown, but I think that the album is on sub-label Gordy. This has crept in, but (again) I think I’ve actually got a 7” of this already. I’m well overdue a clear out, clearly.
Lionel Richie ‘Truly’ Motown 7” Single
I don’t watch reality television so the antics of his daughter haven’t gone any way to damage my perception of the man. (Though I understand that she’s calmed down a bit). I’ve been planning to do a “quiet storm” mixtape for a while for a laugh (it’d be a good thing to put on right at the end of a big night, I thought). This would probably work on something like that.
The Commodores ‘Brick House’ Motown 7” Single
Lyrically, far closer to Spinal Tap’s ‘Big Bottoms’ than they were probably aiming for, but actually my favourite Commodores track. An old girlfriend used to have a Lionel Richie live album and according to him, one of his favourites as well (though it was actually Commodores drummer Walter "Clyde" Orange that did the vocal on the original version).
Rose Royce ‘First Come, First Serve’ Warner Brothers 7” Single
This is off of the third Rose Royce LP (which I don’t own) which, as per earlier works, was produced (and largely written by) Norman Whitfield. (Whose other releases litter this blog). This has the same bass sound at the start as ‘Love Don’t Live Here Anymore’, which I’d always taken for being a synthesiser, but I now think might be a bass with an auto-wah on it. This is a pretty driving dancefloor track, anyway.
Anita Ward ‘Ring My Bell’ TK/Epic 7” Single
A massive popular hit, but driven by a propulsive drum machine a la ‘I Feel Love’.
Diana Ross ‘Upside Down’ Motown 7” Single
Another one kept because it’s a Nile Rodgers & Bernard Edwards creation (as is the accompanying ‘Diana’ LP). He’s really nice about her in his aforementioned autobiography.
Faze-O ‘Riding High’ Atlantic 7” Single
Much, much sampled in later hip-hop tracks. They really sound like they were ‘Riding High’ when they made it.
Osibisa ‘Dance The Body Music’ Bronze 7” Single
One of the first (if not the first artist) to put a direct contemporary African music influence into the pop charts. Not as big as ‘The Coffee Song’ (which I also own) but strangely listenable.
The Whispers ‘And The Beat Goes On’ RCA 7” Single
As sampled on ‘Miami’ by Will Smith, fact fans. I really thought that this was someone else.
Jimmy ‘Bo’ Horne ‘Dance Across The Floor’ TK/CBS 7” Single
Stuck this on and was taken aback by a somewhat robust bassline. No surprise on further investigation that it was later sampled by several leading Hip-Hop producers.
Commodores ‘Flying High’ 7” Single
It’s Lionel on the vocal and a more 70’s pop single than anything else. The B-Side’s called ‘Funky Situation’ and the rules say that you have to keep anything with “drum, funky or Africa” in the title.
George Benson ‘Give Me The Night’ Warner Brothers 7” Single
Never again was he this funky.
Candi Staton ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ Warner Brothers 7” Single
Obviously, Candi Staton holds a special place in the heart of all British house fans because of ‘U Got The Love’ (by The Source Feat. Candi Staton. Effectively, a bootleg of the dub of Frankie Knuckles edit of Jamie Principle’s Chicago classic ‘Your Love’, with a gospel accappella performed by Staton over the top). I’ve always liked this tune.
The Love Unlimited Orchestra ‘Midnight Groove’ 20th Century Records 7” Single
Certainly not as big as ‘Love’s Theme’ from three years earlier but great and exactly what you’d expect: creeping funk groove with lush strings washing back and forth over the bassline.
Donna Summer with Brooklyn Dreams ‘Heaven Knows’ Casablanca 7” Single
It’s certainly no ‘I Feel Love’, but it’s Donna Summer and it’s on Casablanca, so I’m keeping it for completeness sake, if nothing else.
The Brothers Johnson ‘Stomp’ A&M 7” Single
Off their ‘Light Up The Night’ LP, which I got about a year ago. The biggest ever selling single with another amazing breakdown/middle 8.
The Blackbyrds ‘Walking In Rhythm’ Fantasy 7” Single
From ’74 and a beautiful ode to walking in time to the music in your head. I thought that it was only me that did that. It’s The Blackbyrds, so I’ll even forgive the jazz flute solo (though many wouldn’t).
Earth, Wind & Fire ‘Saturday Nite’ CBS 7” Single
The A-Side is frankly rubbish, but saved by ‘Mighty, Mighty’ on the flip which is a proper head nodder.
The Floaters ‘Float On’ ABC Records 7” Single
Cheesy, cheesy R&B, but weirdly familiar. I’ve got a Floaters LP but haven't (I don’t think) ever listened to it. Worst band name ever.
Brass Construction ‘Ha Cha Cha (Funktion)’ United Artists Records 7”
One assumes that the A-Side has nothing to do with the Ed Rush & Optical tune of the same name (‘Funktion/Naked Lunch’ V Recordings 12”). The corker here is the B-Side ‘Sambo’, which has apparently been sampled by Bob Sinclar (on a track called ‘Visions Of Paradise’ that I’m not familiar with). I can see why though; there’s everything here: funky guitars, hand claps, gang chant vocals, disco strings and Moog warblings.
All in all, not a life changing, but still respectable haul.