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This review is from: Andy Smith & Dean Rudland Present New Orleans Funk Experience (Audio CD)
The fact of Dean Rudland and DJ Andy Smith being involved with this project should be enough to whet the appetite of even the most seasoned record buyer, with Rudland having an acknowledged history of compiling quality driven compilations and Smith having shown his technical prowess and musical ear through his 'The Document' mix series (1998 (Volume 1), 2003 (Volume 2) and 2009 (Volume 3). If, however, you are expecting a similarly 'mixed' project then you may be disappointed. Instead you get a single disc featuring 23 tracks drawn from 1958 to 1972 (one apparently published in 1987), with short liner notes written by Rudland and Smith. Rudland writes of his discovering Lee Dorsey, and through him the wider "window into the amazing sounds of New Orleans...a city...(that) made every record with a touch of funk".
The disc opens with the bouncing wide rhythm and tight drum licks of 'Lover & Friend' (1968) by Eddie Bo & Inez Cheatham, a record that harnesses a powerfully raw vocal to a driving force that screams for the dance floor. 'Mean Man' (1968) by Betty Harris is an example of a vocalist delivering a strong melodic vocal over a short and tightly delivered groove. The effect of rythmn continues with 'Let The Groove Move You' (1967) by Gus 'The Groove' Lewis, with its driving, highly percussive drum track, whilst 'Boogaloo Mardi Gras' (Part 1 & 2) (1966) features some wonderful guitar work, an instrument that has almost completely disappeared from contemporary black music. 'Pass The Hatchet' (Part 1 & 2) (1967) by Roger & His Gypsies is an unashamed invitation to the dance floor, underpinned by wonderfully resonant bass playing, with the pace slowing briefly for Eddie Bo's 'What You Gonna Do' (1966), with a church infused call and response and criminally short saxophone solo (featuring at the very end of the record), and 'All I Want Is You' by Zila May. Other highlights include the strings laced and strangely Latin sounding 'Undivided Love' (1962) by Eskew Reader, providing proof that a great musical recipe can be made up of very unusual ingredients (perhaps reflecting the joyously multi-dimensional physicality and spirituality of New Orleans itself).
So. Do you buy?
As a collection this is very tightly focussed, presenting a coherent and extremely enjoyable selection of records that have clearly not been chosen purely for their possible rarity and obscurity. Each and every record featured is simply a joy to listen to, with the very musical lifeblood of black America (Funk, R & B, Boogie) to be heard at every step. DJs and producers looking to widen and deepen their source material for musical sampling will find inspiration aplenty, and dancers will find it very hard to resist the deep grooves and raw emotion pouring through their speakers.
When the end of 2011 arrives and a list is drawn up of the very best cds of the year this will undoubtedly be included in the list. Fantastically funky, with a very real fun factor, Rudland and Smith have to be congratulated on this release, and one can only hope that a further volume is not too far away.
Very strongly recommended, an absolute 10/10 collection.