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Record Label Profiles

Ubiquity Records: Fifteenth Anniversary

By Published: December 23, 2005

Hit the Floor is a for real down-home belly wallop: A straight-up funk and hip-hop record that sounds cut live in a modern clean sound but still very warm, vibrant and direct. From the very start, the call-to-party "Stand Up," it is so very easy to close your eyes and imagine the sweat dripping of these musicians, hot in the studio, knee-deep in the funk. Tackett on bass and drummer Josh "Wallet" Cohen keep Breakestra thumping and bumping, drinking from the deep back(beat) waters of classic funk drummers such as Bernard Purdie, literally daring you to sit or stand still.

With his great soul voice, rough as gravel yet warm as a huggie bear, Tackett rocks the beat hard in "Don't Need a Dance" and "Keep on Playing," yet somewhat smoothes out the rock for the hip-hop groove "Family Rap," featuring the collective Jurassic 5.

(As an aside, I've always had a soft spot for a funk song with lyrics about how funky the song is. It IS stupid, you're right, I know. Still, I tend to admire a lyricist with the playful temerity to turn "stink" into "stank" and then make it a verb, as in this second verse to "Stand Up": " When you're losing yourself, you don't need no complications, baby/ Drums and rhythm guitars in funk conversations, baby/ Under the spell of this here nasty creation, baby/ Purifying your system, we be stanking the nation, baby..." I could sit in front of an empty sheet of paper for months and never come up with something as ludicrously funky as "stanking the nation." )

Various Artists
Searching for Soul: Soul, Funk & Jazz Rarities & Classics from Michigan 1968 - 1980
Luv N' Haight

Certain hallmarks of the musical glory days of the state of Michigan are obvious: Hard rockers such as the MC5, Ted Nugent, Grand Funk Railroad, and Iggy & The Stooges, and of course the Motown label, which dominated pop and R&B charts all around the world.

Searching for Soul is the first volume in a series planned to document "the other music" from this place and time - raw street music, crackling with urgency, in funk, jazz and soul forms - fifteen tracks, all but one presented for the first time on CD. The lone exception is "Rap it Together," a lost funk classic by the Detroit Sex Machines which moves like a Slinky on its rhythm guitar, recently re-edited and re-released on Stones Throw Records.

Soul music does not come much more primal or raw than Robert Jay's "Alcohol, Part 1," an up-tempo guitar blues so tortured in spirit that Jay merits comparison to the legendary tragic blues singer-guitarist from Chicago, Hound Dog Taylor. "This is a true song. I'm an alcoholic," confesses Jay in the liner notes. "I could play a variety of styles but I loved the blues. Detroit blues was an upbeat style, not like the Motown sound, for me it's just the way I felt it."

The sounds of period jazz fusion, such as Donald Byrd's BlackByrds, echo from "Back to Funk" by guitarist Robert Lowe (whose credits include organ groups led by Charles Earland and Dr. Lonnie Smith, and saxophonist Houston Person) and "Farewell to the Welfare" by Wendell Harrison, occasional saxophonist for Sun Ra, Grant Green, and Marvin Gaye.

Different vibrations radiate from the slinky funk instrumental "Searching for Soul Part 1" by Jake Wade & The Soul Searchers; El Riot's "Do It Right," a sexploitative groove that serves, so to speak, as cushion for the pushin'; and the full, lush ballad "Trust Me" by Aged in Harmony, swaddled in vocals, deep bass and strings, and recorded at the legendary Holland-Dozier-Holland (Motown) recording studio.

Gilles Peterson / Various Artists
Gilles Peterson Digs America: Brownswood USA
Luv N' Haight

Digs is the first in a planned series of compilations that illuminate the treasurers held by some of the world's leading record collectors. This first set spotlights DJ Gilles Peterson, who hosts a regular Worldwide show on BBC Radio 1 focused on rarely-heard music and syndicated all around the world. Peterson's record collection is so extensive that he maintains it in a separate house, known as "Brownsville"; longtime listeners will recognize the occasional "Brownsville Basement" selection on Worldwide, tracks never reissued on CD and available only on vinyl, pulled by Peterson from his personal collection.

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