This week, I took a trip to Rasputin to specifically pick up one album, A Taste of Honey’s self-titled debut. I had passed on it a week earlier or $4, and I really like the group, and I regretted not buying it because it seemed like $4 was too much to spend. I’ve since come around to rethinking what I am willing to pay for records and the chances I will take. And it has absolutely paid off, because I’ve picked up so many more records that I love and I rarely skip on records because they might be a few extra bucks. A Taste of Honey’s album is worth the $4, and has had a lot of plays in our apartment since it is right up Carla’s alley too.
A Taste of Honey – A Taste of Honey
I first heard Boogie Oogie Oogie a while ago, and I knew nothing about the group or their music. I loved the funky bass that drives the song, the awesome guitar parts and fuzzed out solo along with a funky organ. The song spent three weeks at number one, sold over two million copies and is considered a disco classic. But 1978’s A Taste of Honey should not be relegated to just being a disco flash, and this album is filled with funk and soul songs that are played by talented musicians that developed their chops playing USO shows for over six years before “being discovered” and signing to Capitol Records. The band was formed by bassist Janice M. Johnson and keyboardist Perry Kibble, who were friends, while guitarist Hazel Payne was added a couple years before this album was made. Boogie Oogie Oogie is by far the best song on the album, and I never get tired of it, but the rest of the album is good pop/dance funk/soul/disco that is distinguished by the excellent musicians making the music.
Listenability – 3 LPs Mood – 3 LPs Danceability – 4 LPs Value – 3 LPs
Groove Holmes – Shippin’ Out
All I knew about this album is that the Beastie Boys had a song called Groove Holmes on their Check Your Head album, and it was a great cut that featured Money Mark Nishita’s organ playing. Along with the fact that Idris Muhammed plays drums on this record, I was intrigued enough to pick this up (also for $4). Organist Richard “Groove” Holmes had been recording since 1961 and recorded this in 1977 at the Van Gelder Studios in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, kicking off with an instrumental rendition of Morris Albert’s Feelings. The rest of the album is pretty tight jazz playing from Dave Schnittner on tenor sax, Steve Giordano on guitar and Muhammed on the drums. Good organ-centered jazz that lives up to the epithet in “Groove” Holmes.
Listenability – 3 LPs Mood – 3 LPs Danceability – 2 LPs Value – 3 LPs
L’il Kim – The Jump Off 12″
Ah, my favorite L’il Kim song. The rapping is great from the original Queen B and the production from Timbaland is very catchy, and this single was released in 2003 around the height of both artists’ popularity. Its a really fun club song, and was added to my collection of 12″ that would work with most crowds, though I haven’t had the opportunity yet to try it out. I’ll still throw it on sometimes just for fun.
Listenability – 3 LPs Mood – 2 LPs Danceability – 4 LPs Value – 2 LPs
Lipps, Inc. – Funkytown 12″
I found this for one dollar, and well, I had to have it. Anyone who doesn’t love Funkytown is definitely stiff. I’m sure you started hearing this song in your head when you saw the title. I’m not sure if the pressing that I got from Singles, Eps and X-hits in Toronto is that great, but it sounds ok. Funkytown went platinum within a few months of its release in 1980, and spent four weeks at No. 1. It is just a fantastic song, oh man, and Minneapolis’s Lipps Inc. never did anything else remotely close to this masterpiece. Unlike a lot of “crossover” disco music that I like, it is very much a disco song, but it’s irresistible. And disco is not a bad word. As a bonus, it comes with Kool & That Gang’s Celebration on the b-side. Pretty cool!
Listenability – 5 LPs Mood – 5 LPs Danceability – 5 LPs Value – 5 LPs
Ohio Players – Contradiction
More funk from the Ohio Players, their eighth album overall and fourth on Mercury, Contradiction was released in 1976 and followed Honey. Like other Ohio Players albums, Contradiction carries the non-compromising funk that they pioneered throughout the 70s and stands apart from the burgeoning disco-funk that funkateers would vilify in later years. While it contains some ballads, it delivers on some of the thickest, funkiest music to come from the Players at the height of their successful period. Unfortunately, they would not have another No. 1 on the Hot Soul/R&B charts after “Who’d She Coo”, so this album represents the last of the classic albums by Ohio Players. The title track, Who’d She Coo and Far East Mississippi are the highlights.
Listenability – 3 LPs Mood – 3 LPs Danceability – 3 LPs Value – 4 LPs
Sylvester – Rock the Box 12″
This is a really cool Sylvester song released in 1984, and it sounds like a lot of the music from the time because of the instruments used, but nothing else really sounds like Sylvester. I am always impressed when I listen to Sylvester’s music because its better than I expect, every time. A truly unique artist that was never afraid to take chances, and in my opinion, nailed it again and again. The vocals in this song are strange and a little menacing, and fit with the mysterious synth melody and driving rhythm. It sounds like it should fit in with the electro being made at the same time, but is set apart by the vocals and unbelievable production by Sylvester. For lovers of club/dance music, you can’t miss out on this music.
Listenability – 4 LPs Mood – 4 LPs Danceability – 5 LPs Value – 5 LPs