UK based Z Records just released the 9th volume in their “Under The Influence” series, this time compiled by Alena Arpels. The London-based DJ and record collector, who also has her own show on Global Soul Radio, has come up with 19 totally obscure soul, dance, boogie, funk tracks, put together on double vinyl, with notes to each of the tunes. The songs on offer were recorded between 1970 and 1983 and many were never commercially released, but rather given away by the artists to family and friends.
Only very few artists here have found the way to my own record collection in one way or the other, but the majority is insanely obscure. With many surprises. From San Antonio, Texas, the group Horizon is featured with an early Commodores-sounding disco funk piece called “Give It Up”. The handclaps on E.K.G.‘s “Give Me Love” turn this early 80s soul bouncer into an instant classic. Ultra rare is the Len Rideout modern soul groover “Spend Some Time With Me”. The soulful production from 1980 always sends a smile on my face.
It’s also an interesting fact that even though these tracks were mostly not released commercially, the overall production and sound values are all in top league. Just listen to La Voyage, the group that consists of members of the Broomfield family (Dee Dee and Eugene Wilde and Al Broomfield later released great albums under their own names), and their wonderful “All Nite Affair”. Or the incredible bass line on “Reaching For Our Star” by singer Sharon Revoal, released in 1980. Keys and sax playing and Sharon’s voice all gel like mad. She reminds me of 70s Nancy Wilson with some parts of her phrasing. But the bass is out of this world.
I also dig the flute-led fusion smoothness of “Twilight” by Fire Water from 1984 and the grooving album opener “Dance Your Blues Pt II” by Spellboun’ from 1978. And do yourself a favor and go for the double-vinyl version of this great comp.