Reviews Zone

Give Up The Funk: The B.T. Express Anthology 1974 -1982 (Big Break Records) 7th April 2017



4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)




If you have ever had to wait for your telephone line to be fixed in the UK, you will see the irony in this band’s name! There is nothing “express” about British Telecom, trust me! Whinge over…The US funk group B.T. Express, however, had fast success with their global smash hit single, “Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied),” in 1974, which was kept off the top spot in the US R&B chart by Billy Preston.

The band from Brooklyn, New York were originally called Madison Street Express, then re-named Brooklyn Transit Express, and abbreviated to B.T. Express. Part of the “Brooklyn Sound” of the early 1970s, formed by three guys from King Davis House Rockers, a local dance band who released two obscure singles. Guitarist Richard Thompson, tenor sax player Bill Risbrook, and alto sax player Carlos Ward formed Madison Street Express, along with bassist Louis Risbrook (later taking up the Muslim-name Jamal Rasool), percussionist Dennis Rowe, drummer Terrell Wood, and vocalist Barbara Wood.

They and their producer Jeff Lane signed with Roadshow Records to record writer Billy NicholsDo It (‘Til You’re Satisfied).” Scepter Records snapped it up and suggested a name change for the group. The debut single dropped in August 1974, and hit The Top 10. They cut a second single, and signed a deal for an album. Their first two singles were big hits, and both topped the R&B chart and went Top Five in the US pop chart too. Their debut album made it to number one on the R&B album chart and number five on the Pop chart. B.T. Express forged a formidable reputation as one of the world’s best disco/funk outfits, clocking up 10 R&B hit singles and seven top 50 R&B albums during their highly-acclaimed career.

The BBR label has packaged 31 of the band’s cuts onto two-discs; a comprehensive anthology selected from all seven of the group’s studio albums. “Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied)” opens disc one in style, and we get “Express”, “Mental Telepathy”, “This House Is Smokin’”, “Give It What You Got”, “Peace Pipe” and “You Got It, I Want It” among other prime cuts. 16 tracks on the first CD and 15 on the second. It is a relentless and timeless funk fest, and a great reminder of how cool and hard-hitting these N.Y. funkateers were.

Embracing the emerging disco attitudes to add to their funk sensibilities ,during their time with Columbia the group released four LPs from 76-80 and the R&B hits “Can’t Stop Groovin’ Now, Wanna Do It Some More”, “Shout It Out”, “Give Up The Funk (Let’s Dance)” and “Stretch” – all four sizzling tracks found here. B.T. Express also showed a smoother side, with the stand-out grooves “Sunshine” and “Does It Feel Good”, both appearing on the second CD here. From their final LP in 1982, “Keep It Up”, we get hit disco/dance tracks “Star Child (Spirit Of The Night)” and the final cut on the second disc, “This Must Be The Night For Love”. A fabulous collection across this double-disc delight.


By Simon Redley



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