What's a Funkadelic?
It's good to see the UK Ace label giving the attention to the Funkadelic catalogue it really deserves with the reissue rollout of the group's classic Westbound albums, complete with informative liner notes, rare photos and, yes, even bonus tracks. Although there are no shocking "lost song" discoveries, seven singles sides added to 1970's self-titled debut doubles the album's length, including the early concert fave As Good As I Can Feel. Their masterwork, Maggot Brain, tacks on three extra winners, ending with a nine-minute blast through I Miss My Baby by Gary Shider's group US, which also featured future Funkadelic Cordell "Boogie" Mosson on bass. Here's hoping Ace will one day excavate that unreleased US studio album.
Never ones to shy away from a good concept - or even a lame one that seems intriguing - G-Stone's Richard Dorfmeister and Peter Kruder heard Paul Nawrata's idea for a soundtrack to a non-existent French thriller and, voila, we have Urbs' Toujours Le Mème Film. One of the standout tracks, the taut, hiphop-bent chase epic called The Incident, has just been issued as a 7-inch single with a cracking unreleased re-edit on the flip designed for club use by more adventurous DJs looking to add some drama to the dance floor.
Label samplers are often yawn-inducing affairs, particularly the in-house jobs, but the Vertigo Mixed (Family/Universal) set assembled by Andy Votel is a notable exception. It's designed to promote the three-disc UK Vertigo label retrospective box Time Machine(Universal) - which may eventually get a domestic release - to a 70s-prog-fearing populace, and Votel cleverly approaches the task like a 70-minute DJ set, mixing the business bits of tunes by Frumpy, Gravy Train, Warhorse, Juicy Lucy, May Blitz, Affinity, Nucleus, Aphrodite's Child, Beggars Opera and others. Believe it or not, there's a lot of freaky funk to be found in those Vertigo grooves, and Votel's just the man to suss it out. An untapped goldmine for hiphop producers.
Scorching Soul Fire
New York groove guru Phillip Lehman started up his Soul Fire label operation in 2000 with a four-track recorder and impeccable taste and over the next four years released some 30 badass singles and a slew of LPs spread over seven subsidiary labels. The best of the tracks by Lee Fields, Sugarman Three, the Whitefield Brothers (aka Poets of Rhythm) and the label's other mysterious regulars like El Michels Affair, the Third Eye and Bronx River Pkwy appear on the first disc of the two-CD Majestic Collection (Truth & Soul). The second disc focuses on the surprisingly great unreleased stuff that for some reason Lehman was sitting on. The five jazzy joints by the enigmatic Fabulous Three could've made for a killer stand-alone LP.