Growing up in the late 70s and early 80s with lots of listening to BFBS radio, I came into contact with British Funk and Soul music early on. The group Light Of The World was one of the father groups of this scene, with members like Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick who late formed Incognito, Paul “Tubbs” Williams, Kenny Wellington, David Baptiste, Peter Hinds, or Neville McKrieth. Members later also formed groups like Beggar & Co. or The Warriors. Of course, there were also bands like Central Line, Atmosfear, or Freeez. In fact, I just received Atmosfear’s 1981 LP “En Trance” with great Wurlitzer and synthesizer playing by Peter Hinds.
Two years after “Full Circle”, the Brit Funk Association, with members like ex Beggar & Co. founders Kenny Wellington on vocals, trumpet, keyboards, David Baptiste on sax and flute, Neville McKrieth on vocals, guitar and keyboards, come up with another feel-good fusion album. Also on board, among others, Peter Hinds, Ernie McKone, and Paul and Patrick McLean who were part of the Brit-Funk group Hi-Tension (remember the 1978 “British Hustle”?). Anyway, enough digging in the vaults now. The group’s new album starts off, you guessed it, pretty funky and airy with “Summer”, a nicely flowing reminder of the past months where we used to spend most of our time outside. There is some Earth, Wind & Fire/Ramsey Lewis 1975/1976 (“Brazilica”) groove on the wonderful “Lifted Up”, complete with jazzy brass section and soulful vocals. One of the highlights of the set.
More Brazilian sounds are offered here with “For Tomorrow (Para Manana)”, including George Duke-like vocals and some cool fusion keyboards. The track that reminds me most of some of the early 80s radio ditties is “Smilin'”, rich with the four-part male vocals, a midtempo soothing groove, greatly shuffling along behind piano and trumpet solos. But also, the crisp fusion beat of “Take Some Time To Love”, mostly instrumental, with vocals taking a backseat, is a cool reminder of those unique years. With almost 70 minutes of Brit-Funk fusion grooves, the music is brimming over with positive, good vibes and simply oozes a lot of fun and high spirits. There is a compelling cheerfulness on “Step On Board” and the percussive jam of “Raw Funk” is a welcome change of mood. There is always the danger that things tend to get too samey. That was my problem during the first listen of “Sign Of The Times” and “This Is What We Do (Tell It Like It Is)”, but I was rewarded a bit later with a track that reminds me very much of the Roy Ayers classic “Love Will Bring Us Back Together”: “Fly By Night” has this fabulous groove that is simply irresistible. Altogether, a strongly recommended album.