RECOMMENDED FUNK & DISCO CDs
[Album art are linked to amazon.com]


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How Band Got Their Names
Steely Dan: A dildo in the William Burroughs novel "Naked Lunch".

Lyrics World
Like to sing in the shower, but can't quite remember the words?

...and yes, - just what you were looking for!

Misheard Lyrics Archive
Hilarious! " 'scuse me, while I kiss this guy"

Museum of Bad Album Covers
What where they thinkin'?!

The Trammps

Ahh... the name is Bootsy, baby!

Johnny Guitar Watson

 

Chaka Khan

Keni Burke

Make your funk the P-Funk!

Never By Texas From A Cowboy...

Philiipe Wynne

Lisa Stansfield

Pass the J, Rick

Pockets: Come Go With Us

Ray Parker jr.

Shotgun: Kingdom Come

Allspice: s/t (At-Home/Fantasy 1977)
Produced by: Wayne Henderson
Allspice were a Wayne Henderson project consisting of members from Pleasure, Side Effect and L.A. Boppers. Their 1977 self titled album is their only effort and one of the best Fantasy Records productions by Henderson and his At-Home team. Contains the excellent ballad She's A Lady, - later done by Side Effect. Reissued on CD in 2013 by Dusty Groove Records.

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Anglo Saxon Brown: Songs For Evolution (Atlantic 1976)
Produced by: Joe Jefferson / Charles Simmons
Starting out as Ujima in 1972, they changed their name to Anglo Saxon Brown in 1976 and recorded one album on Atlantic. (In 1978 they changed name again to Silk and released Midnight Dancer in 1979.). CD reissue by Cherry Red Records UK 2016.

  Songs For Evolution (Atlantic 1976)  
Bar-Kays: To Hot To Stop (Mercury 1976)
Bar-Kays: Flying High On Your Love (Mercury 1977)
Bar-Kays: Light Of Life (Mercury 1978)
Bar-Kays: Injoy (Mercury 1979)
Bar-Kays: As One (Mercury 1980)

Produced by: Allan A. Jones
Initially a funky instrumental in-house band on the Stax/Volt label, the Bar-Kays were nearly destroyed when most of the band died in the same plane crash that claimed Otis Redding in 1967. They regrouped and had several hits in the late 60s and early 70s. After moving to the Mercury label in 1976, they became a bit more polished, although the sound was still very much grounded in the Memphis funk where it all started 10 years earlier. All of these albums are from the Mercury period and available on CD. Great stuff!

  Buy it on Amazon.com
Buy it on Amazon.com
 
Brass Construction: Movin' & Changin' (Best Of) (EMI 1993)
Produced by: Jeff Lane & Randy Muller
15 track basic compilation by Brooklyn based funk outfit Brass Construction led by Randy Muller. As the title indicates it includes both the tracks "Movin'" and "Changin'" from the 1975 "Brass Construction I". For more of the Randy Muller sound, check Skyy "Greatest Hits" on Salsoul Records 1996.

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Brick: Good High (Bang 1977)
Produced by: Robert E. Lee
Brick: Stoneheart (Bang 1979)  
Produced by: Bill Schnee
Brick: Summer Heat  (Bang 1981)
Produced by: Ray Parker Jr. & Brick
Led by the flute-playing Jimmi Brown, Brick "created" the so-called Dazz sound [Disco Jazz] also adapted by Kinsman Dazz, which later became The Dazz Band. Good High is a killer debut and Brick quickly became one of the biggest acts to come out of the up-and-coming Atlanta scene. Incl. the classic "Dazz" and the excellent instrumental "Brick City". The 1979 Stoneheart album is probably just for hard-core fans. Their 1981 effort Summer Heat has the "dazz" sound mixed with the easily recognizable Ray Parker/Raydio sound. Great stuff! The complete Brick back catalogue is now available on CD.

  Buy it on Amazon.com
Buy it on Amazon.com
Buy it on Amazon.com
 
B.T. Express: 1980 (Columbia 1980)
Label: Columbia
Produced by: Morrie Brown
Originally formed in 1972 as the King Davis House Rockers, the  Brooklyn-based group went through several name changes, including the Madison Street Express and the Brooklyn Trucking, before settling on B.T. Express. Although they somehow lost much of their 70's identity on this release, it brings back very good memories with favorite cuts like "Give Up the Funk", "Have Some Fun" and "Does It Feel Good".

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Brothers Johnson: Light Up The Night (A&M 1980)
Produced by: Quincy Jones
Classic 80's Quincy Jones production featuring most of the LA studio mafia, and Louis Johnson's excellent bass work. Be sure to also check out the very good "Blam!" from 1978.

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Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers: Bustin' Loose (Valley Vue 1979)
Produced by: James Purdie
Washington D.C. bandleader, performer and songwriter Chuck Brown was a prominent figure on the city's go-go scene since the late '70s and one of the rare go-go acts to gain US national attention outside D.C. They got into the spotlight with "Bustin' Loose", the top R&B single for 4 consecutive weeks at the end of 1978. Its fabulous arrangement and horn work made the band momentary celebrities. But the follow-up, "Game Seven" flopped, and they were soon back on the go-go circuit. The track "I Gotcha Now" is one of my all time favorite funk tracks. The "Bustin' Loose" album was originally released on the Washington go-go label Source in 1979 and reissued on CD on the Valley Vue label in 1992.

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Keni Burke: You're The Best (RCA 1981)
Keni Burke: Changes (RCA 1982)

Produced by: Kenneth M. Burke
Great bass player who never really got the recognition he very well deserves. Born Kenneth M. Burke in 1953 in Chicago, he first started out as a teen member of the family group The Five Stairsteps. Burke's self-produced debut album, "Keni Burke" was released in 1977. Becoming an in-demand session bass player he can be heard on everyone from Sly & The Family Stone, Natalie Cole, Billy Preston, The Emotions, Stargard, Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers, Narada Michael Walden, Ramsey Lewis, Diana Ross and Gladys Knight. 
The self produced 1981 album "You're The Best" included the singles "Let Somebody Love You", and the title track "You're The Best". Both became post-release 12" collectables. Other album highlights were a cover of Todd Rundgren's "Love Is The Answer" and the sweet ballad "Gotta Find My Way Back In Your Heart", co-written by Burke and Bill Withers. 
1982's "Changes" yielded his biggest solo hit. Though the now classic "Risin' To The Top" peaked at #63 R&B in 1982, it was a huge hit in his native Chicago and has been sampled by a myriad of hip-hop/rap and urban artists. (Doug E. Fresh: "Keep Risin' To The Top", Mary J. Blige: "Love No Limit",  Ali: "Feelin' You"). Burke worked as a writer/producer with The O'Jays, The Jones Girls, The Whispers, Keith Sweat, George Howard, Peabo Bryson, Bill Withers, among others.
In 1997 Burke signed with Sony-distributed UK label Expansion Records, and released the album "Nothin' But Love" in 1998. Check www.homdrum.net/burke for more info.

  Keni Burke: You’re The Best
 
Chic: C'est Chic (Atlantic 1978)
Chic: Risque (Atlantic 1979)

Nile Rodgers Presents Chic Organization (Rhino 2010)
Produced by: Bernard Edwards & Nile Rodgers
Containing dance classics like "Le Freak", "I Want Your Love" and "Good Times", these two disco/funk albums are both exceptionally good! The production is excellent with Edwards & Rodgers stripping disco down to it's basic funky groove elements. The rhythm section is extremely tight and Rodgers' guitar work is outstanding. For more of the same, check out Diana Ross "Diana" or Sister Sledge "We Are Family". For a greater Chic overview you should go for the excellent 2010 Rhino 46 track/4 CD set Nile Rodgers Presents The Chic Organization.

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Cold Fire: Too Cold (Capitol 1981)
Produced by: Dr. Cecil Hale
Led by father and son Ray Towns Sr. & Jr. this is Cold Fire's only album. The opening cut, the funky H.F.R.S. (Hustlin', Freakin', Rockin', Streakin') is a killer track and the main reason for it being on this list. The album also includes Patrice Rushen on keyboards, Nathan East on bass and once Crusaders drummer Ndugu Chancler.

  Cold Fire: Too Cold - 1981  
ConFunkShun: Best of Vol.1 & 2 (Mercury 1993 & 1996)
Produced by: Skip Scarborough and others
Two great 17 and 16 track CD compilations. Vol 1. is maybe the strongest of the two. They had a killer combination with Michael Cooper's vocals and Felton Pilate's guitar (and vocals). Listen especially to the ultra strong ballads. The mellow "By Your Side" is still on my all-time top-10 list some 20 years after it was first released. Alternatively you could  go for the remastered "Ballads Collection" on PolyGram.

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Double Exposure: The Anthology (Salsoul/Suss'd UK 2005)
Produced by: Baker, Harris & Young
Philly harmony quartet Double Exposure were one of the greatest groups to record in the Sigma Sound Studios. Although working on the clubby Salsoul label, they have a depth that matches any of the best male soul groups of the 70s, and equally well-suited to mellow tracks as well as uptempo ones. And although the group are best remembered for their big disco singles of the late 70s, this 2CD collection also includes all of their great ballads -- the complete set list from the albums Ten Percent, Fourplay, and Locker Room.

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Earth, Wind & Fire: The Essential (Columbia 2002)
Produced by: Maurice White
A must in every Soul/Funk collection! 34 remastered classics, but be sure to get the US and not the EU version of this. Both are 2-CD sets, but disc 2 in the EU version contains newly remixed versions and not the original tracks. If you wanna go all the way, check out the 1992 "The Eternal Dance". A 3 disc box set containing 54 tracks including alternate versions and prev. unreleased tracks. Check www.homdrum.net/ewf for more info.

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Fatback: Hustle! - The Ultimate Fatback 1969-84 (Spring/Southbound UK 2006)
Produced by: Fatback
A glittering collection of groovy soulful gems -- 31 tracks by the legendary Fatback -- featuring work from the group's first few years as a funk band through their 70s transformation into one of the tightest club acts around. Incl all the group's tastiest cuts, and includes a massive amount of dancefloor grooves like "Spanish Hustle", "I Found Loving", "Backstrokin", "I Like Girls", "King Tim III (Personality Jock)", "The Girl Is Fine (So Fine)" and "Wicki Wacky".

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Faze-O: Riding High (She Records 1977)
Faze-O: Good Thang (She Records 1978)

Faze-O was formed in Chicago in the mid 70's and released 3 albums on She Records between 1977 and 79. They were all produced by Clarence Satchell of the Ohio Players. who gave Faze-O a very OP-ish sound. Their debut album, Riding High, includes the the classic mellow funky title cut. Good Thang incl. the equally excellent 7:30 title cut. Their 3. and final effort, Breakin' the Funk from 1979 is a bit weaker, but still worth checking out. All albums have been reissued on CD by Warner Japan.

   
First Choice: The Anthology (Salsoul/Suss'd UK 2005)
Produced by: Various
A massive collection of work by one of the greatest female acts to come out of Philly in the 70s, whose work had a huge influence on disco and club into the 80s! First Choice got their start doing more pop-oriented work for the Philly Groove label -- but by the end of the 70s, they'd hooked up with Salsoul. This 2CD set features all 3 of the group's albums for Salsoul -- Delusions, Hold Your Horses, and Breakaway.

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Four Tops: At The Top (ABC 1978)
Produced by: Norman Harris & Ron Tyson
At The Top is arguably not one of the Four Tops' classic releases, but if you're into the Philly/Salsoul sound, this is as good as it gets! Also, Lead singer Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops is one of my favourite soul vocalists! Produced by "The Harris Machine" at Sigma Sound Studios in Philly, with Don Renaldo's Strings & Horns, and lead singer Levi Stubbs in excellent form. Digital Download only.

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Gap Band: I (Total Experience/Mercury 1978)
Gap Band: II (Total Experience/Mercury 1979)
Gap Band: III (Total Experience/Mercury 1980)
Gap Band: IV (Total Experience/Mercury 1982)

Produced by: Lonnie Simmons
Four great funk albums. The name "Gap" comes from 3 streets in their home town Tulsa, - Greenwood, Archer and Pine. They were known for using a special guitar that sounds like a cross between a Spanish guitar and a mandolin, - built like a French ukulele with 6 strings. [Gap Band I is actually not their first effort. They also released an album on Tattoo Records in 1977].

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G.Q.: Standing Ovation – The Story Of GQ & The Rhythm Makers 1974 - 1982 (Arista/Big Break 2016)
Produced by: Various
A great remasted 2 CD set w/ 31 tracks by G.Q. (Gentlemans Quartet) also including some great tracks from their early years as The Rhythm Makers. Incl. "Disco Nights (Rock Freak)", "Standing Ovation", "Is It Cool?" (with it's excellent heavy piano arrangement), and their cover version of Taste of Honey's "Boogie Oogie Oogie".

   
Gwen Guthrie: Portrait (Island 1983)
Produced by: Sly & Robbie
A great little gem from Gwen Guthrie produced by Sly & Robbie but with a sweet modern soul sound that's got a lot less of their influence than expected. More New York than Jamaica, but still with the easy recognisable Sly & Robbie signature.

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Heatwave: Best Of  (Epic/Mastercuts UK 2007)
Produced by: Various
Among all the Heatwave compilations, this one is definitely the best. Double disc set with 20 tracks, most of them penned by the excellent songwriter Rod Temperton, responsible for many hits by Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson among others. Close harmony singing and great arrangements.

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Hi-Tension: Hi-Tension (Island 1978)
Produced by: Kofi Ayivor/Alex Sadkin
Only and quite successful (in the UK anyway) album release from this British jazz/funk/disco group. Excellent stuff and finally re-issued on CD in Feb. 2012 by Cherry Red Records UK. CD incl. 3 bonus tracks "Girl I Betcha" and 7" versions of "British Hustle" and" Hi-Tension".

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Incognito: Adventures In Black Sunshine (Dome 2004)
Produced by: Jean-Paul 'Bluey' Maunick
UK based Incognito are celebrating their 25th anniversary with the 14 track Adventures In Black Sunshine. The album oozes 70's soul/jazz/funk and is in my opinion their overall strongest. This is also a return for vocalist Maysa Leak (on 7 tracks) plus a special cameo keyboard performance from George Duke. The instrumental tracks "The 25th Chapter" and "Mindin' My Business" [8:13!] are both killer 70's old school jazz/funk.

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Instant Funk: Instant Funk (Salsoul 1981)
Produced by: Bunny Sigler
Salsoul Records in-house band's first release. Featuring the classic "Got My Mind Made Up". Also check out another of Salsoul's and production team Baker, Harris & Young's finest acts; Double Exposure.

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Rick James: Street Songs (Motown 1981)
Produced by: Rick James
A classic album from the king of punk-funk. Including the much sampled "Super Freak". Be sure to check out the 2001 two-CD set version "Street Songs – 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" CD 1 contains the original studio album plus both sides of the rare,  extended 12" remixes of "Super Freak" and "Give It To Me Baby" - all digitally remastered from the original analog master. CD 2: In the summer of 1982 Rick was performing live in Long Beach Arena in California accompanied by his Stone City Band, Punk Funk Horns, Teena Marie and background singers Mary Jane Girls. However, a live album was never released, - until now. Mixed and mastered from the original 24-track reels, the performance includes live versions of "Love Gun", "Mary Jane", "You And I", "Super Freak", "Give It To Me Baby" and "Ghetto Life". Teena Marie contributes - in her first-ever live recording – with her own "Square Biz" and "I’m A Sucker For Love". The package comes with a 28-page booklet with original lyrics and cover art.

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Quincy Jones: The Dude (A&M 1981)
Produced by: Quincy Jones
This dude probably needs no introduction. Classic 80's production by the man himself. Featuring an all-star line-up including James Ingram and Patti Austin on vocals. Several songs penned by ex-Heatwave member Rod Temperton.

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Chaka Khan: Naughty (Atlantic 1980)
Chaka Khan: What Cha' Gonna Do For Me (Atlantic 1981)

Produced by: Arif Mardin
After leaving Rufus, Chaka's second album "Naughty" is by far her best album ever, with "What Cha' Gonna Do For Me" following right behind. Tight production from Mardin, although personally I've always found his drum sound a bit "thin".

  Buy it on Amazon.com
Buy it on Amazon.com
 
Kinsman Dazz: Kinsman Dazz (20th Century 1978) 
Produced by: Tommy Vicari
Combining two Cleveland funk outfits, Bell Telefunk and the Kinsman Grill house band, two albums were released on 20th Century. They took the name from the Kinsman Grill and added Dazz (Danceable Jazz), a word used by Brick in their hit Dusic. The rock-alike guitar opening on "Saturday Night" is just awesome! Finally reissued on CD in 2012 by Expansion UK.

  Kinsman Dazz: Dazz 1979  
Kleeer: I Love To Dance (Atlantic 1978) (Digital download only)
Kleeer: The Very Best Of (Atlantic/Rhino 1998)

Produced by: Dennis King & Kleeer
New York-based disco/funk group headed by drummer, arranger, songwriter, and vocalist Woody Cunningham. Originally named The Jam, but changed name to Pipeline in 1975. Now named Kleeer, they signed to Atlantic in 1979 and released their debut album I Love To Dance. Excellent disco/funk never released on CD, but available as digital download from amazon.
The 13 track compilation is excellent but should probably have been a 2 disk set. Nevertheless, all cuts are excellent remastered and original full-length album versions. Also check out Woody Cunningham's fine solo album "Never Say Never" released on UK Expansion Records in 1997. The Kleeer sound is easily recognizable although this album is more mellow than the average Kleeer track.

  Download from Amazon.com
Buy it on Amazon.com
 
Kool & The Gang: Gangthology (Mercury/Universal UK 2003)
Produced by: Various
When Samuel L. Jackson said "it's cool...and the motherfucking gang" in Pulp Fiction, he was definitely talking about Robert 'Kool' Bell and his gang prior to their Deodato-produced albums from 1979 and onwards. Although Deodato took the gang to a commercial height with the 1979 "Ladies Night" and the albums to follow in the early 80's, it's really their 70's offerings that are most interesting. This superb 33 track double CD-set is mainly concentrating on the 70's with a couple of their biggest Deodato-hits thrown in. Disc 1 entitled "Wild" incl. classic funk like "Jungle Boogie" and "Funky Stuff", while disc 2 - entitled "Peaceful" - offers mellow summer grooves like "Wild & Peaceful", "Breeze & Soul", "Summer Madness" and "Winter Sadness". Superb!

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L.A. Boppers: The L.A. Boppers (Mercury 1980)
Produced by: Augie Johnson
Side Effect member Augie Johnson formed The Boppers in the mid-'70s with their first release "The Boppers" on Fantasy in 1978. They then switched to Mercury and became the L.A. Boppers. With input from Mikki Howard they released "The L.A. Boppers" in 1980, which included "Is This the Best (Bop-Doo-Wah)", "Watching Life" and "Be-Bop Dancer. A final Mercury album "Bop Time" (1981) featured an update of The Delfonic's "La, La Means I Love You" and the excellent funky "Give Me Some". Their final and somewhat weaker album "Make Mine Bop" was released on MCA in 1982.
 
  L.A. Boppers 1980  
L.T.D.:  Love To The World (A&M 1976)
Produced by: Larry & Fonce Mizell
Vocalist Jeffrey Osborne's old band. This album was finally released on CD in 1995 and contains the classic "Love Ballad", also done by George Benson in an upbeat version. Also check out the 15 track "Greatest Hits" on A&M. This has most of the tracks you need.

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Mandrill: We Are One (Arista 1977)
Mandrill: New Worlds (Arista 1978)
Mandrill: Getting In the Mood (Arista 1980)

Produced by: Carlos Wilson, Ric Wilson, Wilfredo Wilson
Formed in New York in 1968 by the three Panama brothers Carlos, Lou and Ric Wilson, Mandrill were pioneers in combining Latin with Funk, Rock and Jazz fusion. Their Polydor period between 1971 and 1974 are probably best know and also heavily sampled on; Eminem's "On Fire", Kanye West’s “Two Words", Brandy’s "“Talk About Our Love", Black Eyed Peas' "Weekends",  Wyclef Jean's "You Say Keep It Gangsta", Tweet and Missy Elliot's "We Don’t Need No Water", Public Enemy’s "By the Time I Get To Arizona" and Nas' "U Gotta Love It".
In 1977 they moved from N.Y. and Polydor to L.A. and Arista where they released 3 -- in my opinion -- very underrated albums. Compared to their early 70's Latin inspired jazz/funk/rock on Polydor, their Arista offerings have more sophisticated late 70's soul/funk sound -- still with a touch of Latin.

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Mass Production:  Firecrackers (Best Of) (Cotillion/Rhino 1996)
Produced by: Mass Production
12 track Best Of Mass Production. Great late 70s Soul/Funk/Disco from Norfolk, Virginia. Compilation includes the excellent groover "Can't You See I'm Fired Up".

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Stephanie Mills: Whatcha Gonna Do With My Lovin' (20th Century 1979)
Stephanie Mills: Sweet Sensation (20th Century 1980)

Produced by: James Mtume & Reggie Lucas
2 very nice soul/funk albums from Stephanie Mills. Classy dance floor stuff -- yet a bit jazzy and relaxed -- thanks to the great production by the soon-to-be very in-demand producer pair of James Mtume & Reggie Lucas.

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Ohio Players: Skin Tight (Mercury 1974)
Ohio Players: Fire (Mercury 1975)
Ohio Players: Honey (Mercury 1975)
Ohio Players: Contradiction (Mercury 1976 )
Ohio Players: Jass-Ay-Lay-Dee (Mercury 1978)

Produced by: Ohio Players
Classic jazz/funk CD's with the original cover artwork. (For those of you knowing what I'm talking about :-). Excellent sound, even though these 5 OP albums was produced 30 years ago. Listen specially to the killer horn arrangements and the drum sound. Featuring the special and easy recognizable singing style by Sugar. This style was also to some extent, done by Michael Cooper of ConFunkShun, Larry Blackmon of Cameo and Larry Dodson of The Bar-Keys. Beware of several not-so-good "best of" CDs out there, but the "Funk On Fire" dbl remastered compilation is excellent and has most of the tracks you need. If you've got a surround system with DTS, "Honey" has been remixed in 5.1 DTS sound, and it sounds great!

  Buy it on Amazon.com
Buy it on Amazon.com
 
One Way: One Way Feat. Al Hudson (MCA 1978)
One Way: One Way Feat. Al Hudson (MCA 1980)
One Way: Love Is...  (MCA 1981)
One Way: Fancy Dancer (MCA 1981)
One Way: Wild Night (MCA 1982)
One Way: Who's Foolin' Who (MCA 1982)

Produced by: Al Hudson
From Detroit and originally known as Al Hudson & The Soul Partners between 1976-1978, Al Hudson & The Partners in 1979, One Way Feat. Al Hudson in 1980, and finally just One Way in 1981. Original front woman Alicia Myers left the band in the early 1980s to pursue a solo career, and was replaced by Candye Edwards. She remained with the group throughout the biggest successes including their biggest hit "Cutie Pie" in 1982.

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Parliament: Give Up the Funk (Best of) (Mercury 1995)
Produced by: George Clinton
George Clinton forged two bands, Parliament and Funkadelic, out of what had just been one. Being the more commercially viable of his insane clown posses, most Parliament tracks made it to radio and they are all here! "Flashlight", "Give up the Funk (Tear the Roof of the Sucker)", "Up for the Down Stroke" and "P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up)". Do yourself a favour, get this and get down to some serious P-Funk!

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Passage: Passage (A&M 1981)
Produced by: Louis Johnson
Great gospel/funk album by one half of Brothers Johnson together with his wife and cousin(?). This saw limited CD release on French label Funk Records a while back but is now deleted and very hard to find. Passage not to be confused with UK jazz/fusion group by the same name.

  Passage: Passage  
Pockets: Come Go With Us (Columbia 1977)
Pockets: Take It On Up (Columbia 1978)

Produced by: Verdine White & Robert Wright
The Baltimore based outfit The Pockets teamed up with Verdine White of Earth, Wind & Fire and delivered an excellent performance on their first two albums. Very good EW&F-like sound and highly recommended Japan only CD releases. Also available are the "Golden Classics" (US Collectables Records 5811) containing most of the tracks from both "Come Go With Us" and "Take It On Up" plus a couple of tracks from from their last release "So Delicious" from 1979.

  Buy it on Amazon.com
Buy it on Amazon.com
 
Asha Puthli: s/t (CBS 1974) (Digital download only)
Asha Puthli: The Devil is Loose (CBS 1976) (Digital download only)

Born and raised in Bombay and described as Raga meets Aretha Franklin, Puthli released 4 albums on CBS in the 70's. The 1974 debut and her 3rd release The Devil Is Loose, contains a great mix of pop, soul, funk and disco. The Devil Is Loose, was hailed as an instant classic by the New York Times and Thom Jurek of allmusic.com praises the psychedelic glam record as "a masterpiece of snakey, spaced-out soul and pre-mainstream disco." Asha's sensual, Eastern-influenced cooing over bass-driven grooves on "Flying Fish" and "Space Talk" provided the blueprint for spacey disco hits like "I Feel Love" and "Love To Love You Baby", and they provided the template for future disco and femme pop hits by Blondie, Ofra Haza, Kylie Minogue and others.

  Download from AmazonDownload from Amazon  
Rose Royce: Car Wash (OST) (MCA 1976)
Produced by: Norman Whitfield
Rose Royce: Stronger Than Ever (Epic 1982)
Produced by: Whitfield, Copeland, Nash
The Car Wash title track can be a bit annoying, but when you get passed that, the rest of the album is a solid bit of Norman Whitfield funk. Originally released as a double album containing 19 tracks, Car Wash was one of the last strong-selling soundtracks of the blacksploitation era.
After 5 albums on the Whitfield label, Rose Royce moved to Epic and released Stronger Than Ever in 1982. Whitfield is still handling some of the production, but the sound is more polished and early 80s. The 2012 Big Break Records CD reissue has 4 bonus cuts and a better sound than the 2009 PTG reissue.

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Diana Ross: Diana (Motown 1980)
Produced by: Bernard Edwards & Nile Rodgers (Chic)
Another classic Chic production and Diana's best selling album ever! Including "Upside Down" and "I'm Coming Out". Go for the 2 CD-set Deluxe Edition which also contains Edwards & Rodgers original mix of the complete album plus several 12" disco remixes of other Diana songs.  Also check out her 1978 album "The Boss" produced by Ashford & Simpson.

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Rufus & Chaka Khan: Street Player (MCA 1978)
Rufus & Chaka Khan: Masterjam (MCA 1979)

Produced by: Quincy Jones
Two of the best releases by Rufus & Chaka Khan. They both contains solid grooves, good melodies and the dynamic and overwhelming vocals of Chaka Khan. The Street Player title track was co-written by Wolinski (Rufus) and Seraphine (Chicago) and recorded by Chicago a year later in 1979. For Masterjam, Rufus brought in Quincy Jones  along with the Seawind Horns and some the best L.A. studio musicians at the time. Excellent stuff! Be sure to also check out the excellent live album "Stompin' at the Savoy" from 1982 with 5 studio bonus tracks including the classic "Aint' Nobody". 

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Salsoul Orchestra: Anthology (Salsoul/Suss'd UK 2005)
Produced by: Vince Montana ++
Vibes, strings, keyboards, and vocals -- the heavenly sound of Vince Montana's large disco orchestra, The Salsoul Orchestra, one of the greatest disco/soul/funk outfits of the 70s! Amazing how great these tunes still sound after all these years -- still tight, right, and funky at the best places -- gliding along with a sound that's classy yet soulful at the same time. Of all the Salsoul Orchestra compilations, this 27 track 2 CD set is by far the best!

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Marlena Shaw: Go Way Little Boy - The Sass &  Soul Of Marlena Shaw (Best Of) (CBS/Sony 1999)
Produced by: Various
After a few years with Blue Note in the early 70's (first female signed to that label), Marlena moved to CBS in 1977 releasing 3 albums containing more R&B/soul (and a little disco) than her jazzy Blue Note years. This 14 track compilation covers her CBS years and is very stylish all the way from her signature ballad "Go Away Little Boy" to the disco rendition of "Touch Me In The Morning" (12" remix and hard to find).

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Shock: Shock (Fantasy 1981)
Produced by: Marion McClain & Roger Sause
Shock was an electrophonic-phunk act from Germany helmed by producers Marion McClain and Portland native Roger Sause (who later worked as keyboardist for Kenny G). Incl. the funk classic "Let’s Get Crakin'" -- which has been sampled to death -- plus the two great rhythm guitar driven tracks "I Think I Love You" and Got To Have Your Love", - the latter one of my all-time favourites!

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Sister Sledge: We Are Family (Atlantic 1979)
Sister Sledge: Love Somebody Today (Atlantic 1980)

Produced by: Nile Rogers & Bernard Edwards (Chic)
Classic production and session work by Edwards & Rodgers of Chic. Is this a tight rhythm section, or what?! We Are Family are probably the best of the 2, but Love Somebody Today also features some great Chic grooves. For a Sister Sledge overview you could go for the 2006 remastered Rhino 30 track double set The Definite Groove Collection.

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Slave: The Definite Groove Collection (Atlantic/Rhino 2006)
Produced by: Various
Excellent 30 track double CD set of remastered heavy funk. Including 6 tracks from Steve Arrington's solo albums.

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Lisa Stansfield: Affection (Arista 1989)
Produced by: Ian Devaney & Andy Morris
Actually a bit before it's time, Lisa released "Affection" in 1990, years before 70' dance music was once again hot. Classic Barry White-like string arrangements and Philly soul production. For more of the same you can go for all her albums -- except 2006 The Moment which is pure pop produced by Trevor Horn -- since they are pretty much more of the same.

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Tavares: Love Uprising (Capitol 1980)
Produced by: Benjamin F. Wright
Tavares' 11th album, the 1980 "Love Uprising" is pretty straight forward soul/disco and probably only for those who knows this from when it was first released. Produced by Benjamin F. Wright (who was former musical director for Gladys Knight & The Pips and Barry White and arranger for Michael Jackson s Off The Wall), and featuring top musicians like James Jamerson Jr., Paul Jackson Jr., Paulinho DaCosta and the Earth Wind & Fire horn section The Phenix Horns. Finally available on CD in 2012!

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Johnnie Taylor: Just Ain't Good Enough (Beverly Glen 1982)
Produced by: Otis Smith & Patrick Moten
Great Blues/Soul released on the short-lived Beverly Glen label between his Columbia and Malaco years.

   
The Temptations: Power (Gordy 1980)
Produced by: Michael L. Smith and Suzee Ikeda
Arguably not among The Temptations classic releases but I love the majaestic title cut which has Melvin Franklin's natural bass blending with the tracks popping bassline. Dennis Edwards, Glenn Leonard and Richard Street share the lead. Digital Download only.

  Power (Gordy 1980)  
Bobby Thurston: You Got What It Takes (Prelude 1980)
Produced by: Willie Lester & Rodney Brown
Classic Prelude production. Perfectly arranged funky disco with an extremely fat yet crisp sound (My JBL's really loves this :-) This is how a dance record should sound like.... period! Long running songs with plenty of room for piano and guitar solos.  A fat and funky/jazzy piano, massive rhythm guitars and real horns & strings perfectly arranged. All on top of a really fat bass line, this rhythm section is as tight as can be. Go get this I say! Also check out another of Prelude's finest, Sharon Redd.

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The Trammps: Where the Happy People Go (Atlantic 1976)
The Trammps: III (Atlantic 1977) (Digital download only)
The Trammps: The Whole World's Dancing (Atlantic 1979) (Digital download only)

Produced by: Ron Baker/Norman Harris/Earl Young
The Trammps: Slipping Out (Atlantic 1981) (Digital download only)
Produced by: Mass Production
The Trammps were making some excellent dance music years before disco became a dirty word and their 1976 offering "Where The Happy People Go" is truly a classic in my book since it was the album that really got me hooked on Black Music. (How appropriate that one of the tracks is entitled Hooked For Life :-)
Their next, the 1977 album entitled III is not quite up to it's predecessor, but it's nevertheless well worth checking out for the excellent "The Night the Lights Went Out" and "Seasons for Girls", - one of the few Trammps ballads.
The 1979 The Whole World's Dancing includes the excellent Love Insurance Policy and Soul Bones. Great stuff!
The 1981 Slipping Out has a different sound having been produced by the group Mass Production and is probably only for those who knows this from when it was first released.
For an overall look into the Trammps, check out the very good 18 track Rhino compilation "This Is Where The Happy People Go" from 1994. Disco at its absolute best!

  Buy it on Amazon.comDigital download from Amazon.com
Digital download from Amazon.com
Digital download from Amazon.com
 
Luther Vandross: Never Too Much (Epic 1981)
Produced by: Luther Vandross
Luther's 3rd and breakthrough album. Tight production featuring Marcus Miller on bass. Also available on high quality SACD.

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Various: Can You Dig It? (6 CD box set) (Rhino 2001)
If you want to go all the way, this is probably the ultimate 70's R&B box set. 6 CD's with a total of 136 tracks, 65 which hit #1. It represents a who's who of stars, with some hard-to-find tracks thrown in. Sure, the hard-core fan with an extensive 70's soul CD collection will probably wish for more obscurities, but anyone wanting an at-home jukebox loaded with classic R&B will certainly dig this...

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Various Artists: Sugarhill Records Definite Groove Collection (Sugarhill/Rhino 2006)
Produced by: Various
Compiling 24 of the old-school rap label's best cuts and sequencing them chronologically, the compilation is practically definitive: all of the key songs are here, from the long version of "Rapper's Delight" to Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five classics like "The Message" and "White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)," and so are a number of more obscure label highlights, like the long version of Trouble Funk's "Hey Fellas" and the Rick James interpolation "All Night Long (Waterbed)" by Kevie Kev.

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Waldo: Love Don't Grow On Trees (Prelude 1982)
Produced by: Willie Lester & Rodney Brown
Another Prelude release produced by Lester & Brown (Bobby Thurston, Sharon Redd, Gayle Adams). This lost gem was recently avail. on CD for the first time. The overall sound is tight, stripped down and well produced, with crisp, snapping guitar and bass driven grooves rather than pushing the synth and keys to the front, as was more typical of the era.

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Johnny Guitar Watson: Ain't That a Bitch (DJM 1976)
Johnny Guitar Watson: A Real Mother (DJM 1977)
Johnny Guitar Watson: What The Hell is This? (DJM 1979)

Produced by: Johnny Guitar Watson
Johnny Guitar Watson, a multi-talented performer who was one of the hottest blues axemen on the West Coast during the 50's. He first started out as a piano player, but by 1954, when he dreamed up the absolutely astonishing instrumental "Space Guitar" (not even 17 years old), he had switched to guitar. "Space Guitar" ranks with the greatest achievements of its era, - Watson's blistering rapid-fire attack, done without the aid of a pick, contained futuristic effects that rock guitarists still hadn't mastered 15 years later. He totally changed his image to a pimp-styled funkster with the mid 70's down-and-dirty R&B releases "A Real Mother", "What the Hell is This" and "Ain't That a Bitch" on DJM Records.
After "Strike on Computers" in 1984, Watson seemed to disappear, but his 1994 album for Bellmark, returned him to prominence and earned him a Grammy nomination for best contemporary blues album, even though its contents were pure old-school funk. Sadly, in the midst of a truly heartwarming comeback tour, Watson passed away while touring Japan in 1996.
If you completely missed the 70's and want a taste of Johnny Guitar, start off with the 31 track 2 CD set compilation "The Funk Anthology".

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Buy it on Amazon.com
 
Norma Jean Wright: Norma Jean (Bearsville/Atlantic 1978)
Produced by: Nile Rogers & Bernard Edwards
Chic lead singer Norma Jean Wright also recorded both under her own name and as Norma Jean (not to be confused with the same-named country singer). Her self-titled 1978 album was produced by Rodgers & Edwards and could easily have been the second Chic album. "Norma Jean" saw limited release on CD a while back but is now deleted and very hard to find. Copies are changing hands for $400!
  Norma Jean: Norma Jean 1978