I have to admit I’ve made a mistake. I once said that Fabric was the only compilation series worth investing in these days, when collections of songs are less about discovering good music than selling individual tracks.
I was wrong. Z Records’s Under the Influence makes it two.
Under The Influence Vol 2 is a goldmine of rare soul, disco and boogie music. And by “rare”, I don’t mean “not on sale in 2012″, but “passed almost without notice even when they were new”.
Paul Phillips dug deep in compiling this two volume CD/vinyl/digital release, and he has the dirt underneath his fingernails to prove it. Even the magic elves of discogs.com, so diligent and thorough, have missed listings for some of these.
I just gave the comp a test drive and the experience is going to be mindblowing for any connoisseur of classic dance and the music that it came from – like finding some previously unknown Hitchcock movie or a folio of lost Shakespeare sonnets.
Ron Richardson’s “Ooh Wee Babe” in particular is some kind of funk/soul/electro fusion that just kills. There are scattered reports of Ron Richardson’s strange journey, from “staff writer” with Gamble & Huff to an actor in the sitcom 227; I have no idea how fame as a vocalist eluded a man with lungs so big they could swallow a small car with a family inside. Another: State Department’s “Slow Love” (produced by the legendary Van McCoy) is a small masterpiece of soul-with-strings. I keep going back to Tom Moulton’s magic formula, revealed in an interview this past July with yours truly:
Years ago they had a saying: match a good song with a good performance and you can’t lose. Today it’s almost a case of trickery versus talent. I’m not taking away from what people do today, but I think you have to rely on a great song and a great performance.
And that’s the difference here. These are beautiful songs, beautifully performed and fished out of the offal of a long-ago era.
01. Phylliss Bailey – Focus
02. Jesse Gomez – Baby I’m Coming At You
03. State Department – Slow Love
04. Brenda Cuffari – My Music Says It All05. Pike – Good Feelings
06. Midnight Energy – Saving All My Love
07. Hearts Of Fire – Lets Party All Night
08. Freeway – Get The Feelin’
09. Myth Michaels – Push It
10. 24 Karat Gold – New Love
11. Tony Gregory – I’m Gonna Break You Down
12. The New York Disco Orchestra – It’s True
01. Special Touch – This Party Is Just For You
02. Freeway – Help Yourself
03. Ron Richardson – Ooh Wee Babe
04. Billy Frazier – The Mind Blower (Finally Got His Mind Blown)
05. Wardell Piper – The Power of Love
06. Sunstreet – Lovin
07. Motherfox – Fallen Into Love
08. CB And Just Us – Won’t You
09. Krisp – Sunlight
10. The Thompsons – Message
11. Michelle Lamb – Natural High
12. The Underground Band – Time Is Running Out