One Funk (SJRCD 097 - 2004)
Cedric Im Brooks - Shaft
Studio One Funk is made up of rare and unreleased Reggae Funk from the vaults of Studio One. Ever since the birth of Funk in America, the sound has been an ever present part of Studio One music. Whether it's in the deep roots of Alton Ellis' 'African Descendants', the twisted dub of The Dub Specialist's 'Granny Scratch Scratch', the electronic wizardry of The Sharks' 'Music' or the out and out Funk of the Brentford All Stars 'Greedy G' - Studio One musicians knew how to get on the good foot.
This, though, is the first of it's kind. Non-stop Reggae Funk from start to finish. The stars of the show are the in-house bands at Studio One - The Soul Defenders, The Brentford Road All Stars and the great Sound Dimension, who arrived at Studio One at roughly the same time as Funk was hitting the US. It was the Sound Dimension who moved Jamaican music on from Rocksteady into Roots in the late 1960s playing on most releases during this period. As well as the main in-house players such as Jackie Mittoo, Leroy Sibbles, Eric Frater, Leroy 'Horsemouth' Wallace, Phil Callender, Vin Morgan, Richard Ace we also have some of the heaviest sidemen stepping up to the front - trombonist Vin Gordon (aka Don Drummond Junior), saxophonist Cedric Im Brooks, harmonica genius Roy Richards and heavyweight keyboard and melodica player Pablove Black.
The music on this release is a combination of originals, US covers and versions of existing Studio One cuts. From one in-house band to another, Jackie Mittoo shows his appreciation for Booker T and The MGs, the studio group at Memphis' famous Stax Records with 'Hang Em High', itself a cover version of a film soundtrack by Dominic Frontiere. Incredibly this version has never before been released. Booker T's 'Melting Pot' is also covered by the strangest named group at Studio One, The Underground Vegetables - perhaps named for playing roots music?
Version-wise, we have Cedric Im Brooks tough instrumental take on Horace Andy's 'Skylarking', music supplied by The Soul Defenders. The little known Prince Moonie gives us this rare DJ cut of another Horace Andy classic, 'See A Mans Face'. Pablove Black's cut of Sidewalk Doctor (aka Poco Tempo) is one of the handful of Studio One releases featuring Augustus Pablo's trademark instrument, the melodica, played by Black himself.
James Brown is apparent in spirit with the JBs inspired groove on the rare cut 'Now' by Lee Arab (aka 'Funky Joe' by The Sound Dimension). Also Lloyd Williams does a fine Kingston-style version of the hardest working man in showbusiness on 'Reggae Feet'.
Other versions include more Memphis-based material, this time from another Stax legend, Isaac Hayes, and his classic Blaxploitation soundtrack 'Shaft'. This Cedric Im Brooks track is another unreleased, straight from the tape master. Motown gets a look in with Alton's stripped down version of the Spinners classic 'It's A Shame', written by Stevie Wonder and Syreeta.
We've also included The Soul Brothers early cut '007' (recorded in 1966) to show that even Ska had the Funk! And, at the other end of the scale we have the moody drum-machine dub funk on the little known late-70s cut 'Music' by The Sharks. This is the instrumental version of the song.
Add to this original cuts from The Sound Dimension, Leroy Sibbles, Delroy Wilson, Roy Richards and more and you have one of the finest selections of Reggae and Funk you're likely to hear!
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