The ever-reliable folks at Expansion Records have come up with another cool compilation, put together by DJ Tony Monson. Released between 1973 and 2019, the double-disc starts off with the 1980 disco funk of “Dance Freak” by Chain Reaction, an 11-piece band which never released a proper LP, but singles only. A lost groove indeed. I don’t want to describe all of the 30 tracks involved here, but rather highlight a few on this altogether brilliant comp.
Miguel Migs, house (and more) producer, writer, and remix guru whose work I have always admired, is featured here with the group Petalpusher and “Breaking It Down” from 1999. The cool and breezy soul cut has the wonderful Ledisi on vocals, floating atop the oozing swayer with class and virtuosity. Definitely one of the highlights on this album.
It’s always good to have the great Vesta featured on any compilation and here’s a track from her 1986 debut album, “Don’t Let Me Down”, produced by David Crawford. I miss her amazing voice. Fond memories arrive with the 1986 cult classic “Don’t Wanna Wait” – we’ve been dancing to this instant groove monster by Lew Kirton way back in the late 80s in Cologne’s clubs. It’s also refreshing to hear a 1983 track from Rufus, without Chaka Khan. Their relatively mediocre album “Seal In Red”, produced by George Duke and featuring Patti Austin, Ernie Watts, Paulinho Da Costa and lots more, only offered two really catchy tunes, “Blinded By The Boogie” and “No Regrets”, the latter of which is featured here. Great vocal arrangement and much too short trombone solo by Charlie Loper.
The Foreign Exchange have never really come up with a boring tune and their 2015 “Body” adds more excitement to the affair. Still amazingly catchy. Phonte Coleman is just brilliant. Really cool compilations always have something new to explore: I have never heard of Nadine Lee before. The British singer is featured here with a jazzy “Special”, complete with offbeat percussion and brass work. Another discovery is Tom Grose & The Varsity with a track from 1985, “More Of You”, reminding me of Bill Wolfer. Remember Cameo? One of their biggest hits came in 1986 with “Word Up” from the album of the same name which also featured the great “Candy” and “Back And Forth”. Tony decided to add the midtempo groover “Don’t Be Lonely”. A lovely treat.
How nice to have soul duo The Affair (Hazel Fernandez, Steve Carmichael) on here as well. Their “Hangin’ On” from the 1991 debut album (there was only one more album four years later) is still a thrill. Drummer Gene Dunlap, one-time member of Earl Klughs band and heard on a number of great soul jazz albums of the time, is featured here with a track from one of his two albums he released back in 1981. “Something Inside My Head” has the great Philippe Wynne on lead vocals. A superb classic track from my favorite music period. The album closes with one of favorite soul-house tunes from 1999: “Music And Wine” by Blue Six on the fantastic Naked Music Recordings is featured with a special mix and almost reworks the tune into something completely new.