When Otis Redding died in December 1967 at the age of 26, it may have knocked the wind out of Stax’s sails, but it didn’t stop tapes from rolling at soul sessions in Memphis studios. On the contrary, the decade following Redding’s passing was no less productive, as Hi and numerous smaller indies seeking to capitalize on the global popularity of the Memphis sound started banging out singles non-stop. Some of the lesser-known but still badass funk and tricked-out soul thrillers cut post-Otis by the likes of Willie Walker, John Gary Williams, Smithsonian, Blackrock, Gene “Bowlegs” Miller and Stacy Lane are compiled on the superdope Memphis 70 (BGP/Ace) collection. www.acerecords.co.uk.
Mickey goes modal
If any mega-corporation has money to blow on enhancing its brand’s hipness quotient with young parents, it’s Disney. So, cleverly enough, it’s enlisted Japanese dance-floor jazz DJ Sunaga T to curate the Modal Jazz Loves Disney (Walt Disney) compilation, for which top contemporary artists from around the world attempt to de-schlockify the overly familiar tunes from Disney’s animated classics.
Admittedly, not every track is a winner. Rome’s LTC struggles with Baby Mine from Dumbo, and Native can’t do much to salvage A Whole New World from Aladdin, but Finland’s Five Corners Quintet work wonders with the Winne The Pooh theme, Rosalia De Souza briliantly bossas up The Little Mermaid’s Part Of Your World, and Elizabeth Shepherd somehow manages to make Beauty And The Beast listenable. Watch Shepherd liven up the National Jazz Awards at the Palais Royale Tuesday (April 8).
As a companion to Soundway’s great new Nigeria Special compilation focusing on what was being done in highlife and other forms besides Afrobeat during the early 70s, Brighton-based label boss Miles Cleret has just issued the Nigeria Disco Funk Special collection covering the boogie-down sound of underground Lagos dance clubs in the latter part of the decade.
As usual, Cleret chooses to document the most obscure rather than the most popular sounds of the era, so even if you were in Nigeria and regularly hitting the discotheques at the time (like collector-come-lately Cleret wasn’t), you may never have heard anything by the Sahara All Stars, T-Fire, Jay-U Experience, Dr. Adolf Ahanotu or the Voices Of Darkness. Nevertheless, the thoughtfully illustrated and annotated Nigeria Disco Funk Special set makes for a stomping party mix. You’ll know all about it when Cleret drops needle with A Man Called Warwick at the Turning Point party Saturday (April 5) at the Gladstone Hotel. www.soundwayrecords.com.