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The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club Volume 5: Various Artists (Freestyle Records) 8th December 2017



4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)




He’s back with his annual delve into the Craig Charles trunk of funk – and plenty of soul, R&B and much more. 19 choice cuts chosen by BBC Radio 6 Music DJ and soul aficonado Craig Charles, on one CD album for our delectation.

The fifth volume of these juicy compilations, and he’s dug deep to shake it up and mix up the versatile and tasty flavours. The collection kicks off with The Traffic and “Super Freak”, then The Allergies “Love That I’m In”, featuring Andy Cooper. Third up is The Andy Tolman Cartel, and “You What!”.

Nicole Willis & UMO Jazz Orchestra offer up “(Everybody) Do The Watusi”, and then the late and the great Charles Bradley is paid tribute to, with the inclusion of his track, “Change For The World”.

Sad personal memories of Charles breaking down in tears mid-interview, when talking to me about the tough life he had lived before late fame, including a spell of homelessness and the brutal murder of his brother, who was robbed and killed by one of  Bradley’s nephews.

Galaxia “Joyous”, Henri-Pierre Noel’s “Funky Spider Dance (The Reflex Revision)”, the legendary Brian Auger and his Oblivion Express and “Inner City Blues” and then The Hawkmen “Love Is Blind”, before Scone Cash Players “Year Of The Rooster Pt. 1”.

The great recent discovery, Tanika Charles provides “Endless Chain”, from her superb Spring 2017 album, “Soul Run”. Aussie funk,soul and disco star Kylie Auldist pops up with “Body”, Anotoly Ice & Dariya “Talking Black”, the always classy Carleen Anderson takes up slot 14 with “Begin Again”, and then there’s five more to go.

Niteshifters “Show Me What You’ve Got (Original Mix)”, The Filthy Six “Mr Morris (Spectra Sonic Sound Session Live)”, Lack Of Afro featuring Wax & Herbal T “Back In Business”, which takes us up to the penultimate cut here, “Nawa”, from Ginger Johnson & His African Messengers. Finally,  Daytoner closes the proceedings in fine style with “I Get By (I Got The)”.

Craig Charles says he has, “gone all out to bring together the baddest, most boom bap beats, the deepest funk, the sassiest soul and gorgeous grooves to put a shake in your shimmy and a wiggle in your walk”.

In reference to the Charles Bradley cut: “Dear sweet, enchanting Charles Bradley – The screaming eagle of soul. A man who had it tougher than most. He spent decades as a James Brown impersonator, a homeless person on the unforgiving streets of New York City.

Throughout his 30’s & 40’s, it looked like Charles wasn’t going to get to take a bite out of the Big Apple, and then along came Daptone Records and righted what would have been a far too serious wrong. And he got to release his debut album at the age of 62. I have included his beautiful track, ‘Change For The World’ as my tribute to him”. Charles died in September this year, at the age of 68 after fighting cancer.

On the Scone Cash Players’ track, “Year Of The Rooster Pt. 1”, Craig says:“If you have ever got down to the sounds of The Sugarman 3 as well as Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, then you have already been moved by the sound of Adam Scone.

His own group The Scone Cash Players are an old school, Hammond organ, soul-jazz outfit and here he is with Year of the Rooster Pt 1 – his own classic organ groove which features saxman Ian Hendrickson-Smith from The Roots. This is bountiful boogaloo beats for the 21st century and I love it.”

Aside from the newer stuff, Craig dusts off some archive goodies; two old school zingers – the first is a track that for many years, it is said its very existence was questioned by Afro-funk specialists & record collecting crate diggers. Ginger Johnson & His African Messengers, ”Nawa”, which apparently hasn’t been heard for more than 40 years.

Brian Auger’s 1973 version of Marvin Gayes’ Inner City Blues, from Brian’s most acclaimed album “Closer To It”, entered the Billboard Jazz, R&B and rock charts simultaneously when it was released, making history. Craig brings things bang up to date with track 17, Lack Of Afros’ Back In Business! Teaming up again with rapping siblings Wax & Herbal T.

No burning need to go into great detail about Craig’s other interests, as an actor (Red Dwarf, Coronation Street etc) poet, TV host and stand-up comic. We are all about the music, here…

The last 15 years has established the man as an essential listen, with his own Saturday night BBC6 show and regular stints on BBC Radio 2. Plus his forays out on the road as a much in demand on stage DJ, for festivals and one nighters, often accompanied by some of his favourite live bands/artists.

These annual compilation albums are hotly anticipated, as a source of entertainment and education; discovering new and perhaps re-discovering some forgotten vintage artists.

Fast becoming a bit of a national treasure to discerning fans of quality deep cuts of soul, funk and its ilk – if Craig stands still long enough, maybe someone will eventually slap a blue plaque on him! Awooga!



By Simon Redley




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