Tuesday, March 13, 2007

C.D. Review: Absolute Funk Volume 2 (Body & Soul)

The unoriginal title and the uninspired cover art don't do justice to the overall quality of this series by the Body & Soul label. This is in fact a well researched and compiled dose of serious funk. All the tracks on Absolute Funk Volume 2 are from strong vinyl sides, and in a couple of cases we get the B-side sequel as well. Many of the twenty cuts on here are still fairly rare in the digital age, while some of the better known tracks like the opener "The Sad Chicken" have popped up on other compilations. Cuts like "Iron Horse" by The Marlboro Men and The Showmen chestnut "The Tramp" which are on compilations put out by the likes of Goldmine and Soul Patrol sound cleaner on the Absolute Funk series, even if they are still mastered from seven inch vinyl singles. This series also has more information than a typical Goldmine release, while many other funk reissue labels such as Soul Patrol never have any information accompanying their collections.
Licensing issues aside, Absolute Funk Volume 2 stands in its own right as great, greasy grab bag of obscure gems.
Sundia's two part "Stand Up and Be A Man" is a rare free flowing hit of feminist funk. The male-partner-as-deadbeat topic comes up again on the lighthearted Good Time Charlie song "Rover or Me" (guess who wins).
Kim Tamango's "Not By Bread Alone" is an intense burner of a song, with its pounding, but spare percussion and Llyn Collins style delivery. There are low budget recordings of popular sounds, such as the Stax-flavoured "Can't Nobody Love Me" by The Soul Duo. The main reason these cuts are so rare is they were seldom re-pressed, and many were only distributed in a small geographic area. Of course, that means most of these songs were recorded on a tight budget, in small local studios. A lot of this material is to soul music what 1960's garage bands were to rock stars; less polish, but the boundless energy and sheer quirkiness of a lot of great lost funk treasures rewards the adventurous listener.
Even the flagrantly derivative songs like "The Tramp" (both parts) have a boisterousness that is too infectious to overlook in the pursuit of originality. Harvey Scales and the 7 Sounds' dance song "Get Down" closes Absolute Funk Volume 2 on an upbeat tone. Perhaps somebody should compare the different songs instructing listeners on how to do dances like "The Breakdown" and "The Freeze" and see if they give similar moves. In the mean time, this is a hot funk c.d. for one's listening or partying needs.

No comments: