FUNKY 16 Corners Party featuring DJ EGON with DEE JAY NAV, John Kong, AKI, JASON PALMA and A MAN CALLED WARWICK at Roxy Blu (12 Brant), Friday (January 25). $10 advance, $15 door. na firstname.lastname@example.org
It's not hard to see why the Funky 16 Corners (Stones Throw) compilation outclasses every other collection of rare funk joints from the early 70s. Besides the wealth of killer jams unearthed on it, it's one of the few such archival projects to come correct with informative notes, photos and artist remuneration.
Part of the problem is that even the few legitimate reissue operations have found it very difficult to locate the original artists, who often cut one monstrous 7-inch single independently and then vanished. Some 30 years on, tracking down the mysterious members of outfits like the Ebony Rhythm Band -- who recorded Soul Heart Transplant -- can turn into a nationwide manhunt.
Crate-digging DJ Eothan "Egon" Alapatt's resourceful detective work led him to Indianapolis, Indiana, which proved to be an unknown hotbed of Midwestern funk, and the soul centre of the Funky 16 Corners set.
"The whole thing came together by looking up addresses on record labels, talking to local musicians, checking the phone books of old radio-station DJs -- whatever it took," explains Alapatt from L.A. before jetting off to spin in England.
"It turned out that the Ebony Rhythm Band were the house rhythm section for the LAMP label that put out their amazing Soul Heart Transplant single, of which there are, like, three known copies.
"I found the label owner, Herb Miller, who now owns a forensic investigation company. He said he'd look for a copy of the single, and in the meantime I kept looking for the group members. Eight months later, Herb calls to say he couldn't find the record but he located the original masters. So we arranged to meet at LAX the next week, where he handed me a suitcase filled with tapes."
Racing back to the Stones Throw office, Alapatt and his partner, Peanut Butter Wolf, spent the next 10 hours digitally transferring the music from 25 ancient reels. They were in for a bigger surprise than they'd ever imagined.
"Not only did we find the multi-track master of Soul Heart Transplant, but we had every soul single LAMP released -- including an entire album's worth of totally unknown material by the Ebony Rhythm Band, with outrageously cool drum breaks everywhere. It was an incredible find."
The Ebony Rhythm Band album should be out before year's end, after Ubiquity finally issues the Johnny Frigo dance studio collection Alapatt's been working on for three years. And then there's his second volume of previously unissued funk excavated from the basement of Montreal-born Hair maestro Galt McDermott.
"I've been going through Galt's tapes since I interviewed him for my radio show back in college. When I did the first compilation, I left off a lot of great stuff because it wasn't straight 4/4 funk. But some of Galt's best work is a little... um... out there.
"This collection is definitely more left-field, which will show Galt's incredible range. You should be proud that he's one of your homeboys."TIM PERLICH