Label: Cherry Red - CDBRED519 • Format: 2x, CD Compilation • Country: Europe • Genre: Funk / Soul • Style: Funk
Front Page. CD Shop. New Releases. Forthcoming Releases. Back Issues. Serious Soul Chart. Quality Time Cream Cuts. Vintage Soul Top Boogie Tunes Top Album of the Month. CD Reviews. Editorial Columns. Readers' Favourites. Read the CD review of the previous set here. Skip was no longer the producer of Con Funk Shun on their second release Touchbut now Jerry Peters joined Oh, My Love - Various - Imagine - John Lennon Forever one of the contributors.
The opening track Too Tight was Bad Lady - Con Funk Shun - Touch + 7 + To The Max another top ten soul hit for Con Funk Shun, and it was a top 40 pop hit as well. The melody is not too close to either of the aforementioned tunes, so this still sounded fresh and punchy when released in November Surely the rhythm track borrows especially from Got to Be Realbut I still think Cedric Martin does a terrific job as the bassist on the track.
Get the track and enjoy! Too Tight spent 20 weeks on Billboard, and when the second single Lady's Wild was released, most of the Con Funk Shun of course already had the album. So it was no wonder it did not raise higher than the slot 42 on Billboard's soul chart, but I still regard this a killer funk tune. There's a 12" Version of the track as a bonus, Возови - Кристина Арнаудова* - Возови well.
When the overall trends were getting unfavourable for large funk groups, I think Con Funk Shun chose the right path sticking to funky dance tracks, as these two singles well demonstrated. The groove is there, there's enough melody and chants to hum along, and the instrumentation is tight and colourful.
Not many funk groups survived All Sports Band - Young Girl 80s, but Con Funk Shun did the right thing, without compromising to pop dance sounds like some of their competitors. Admittedly the album was a bit uneven, with a couple of more mediocre moments following the tighter funk cuts and solid ballads - the title track is the biggest disappointment.
In the ballad department, David Crawford assisted with his classy arrangements, and especially the Cedric Martin composition Give Your Love To Me is worth your attention. The overall feel reminds me of Bad Lady - Con Funk Shun - Touch + 7 + To The Max vocal groups of the 70s, which is always a positive note.
Felton Pilate blows a short trombone solo. Also, Can't Say Goodbye has been mentioned as a quiet storm favorite. Play Widit is a banal synth-driven instrumental that I would have rather dropped out of the album. Still, with a couple of killer funkers and some stylish ballads this was a more than worthwhile album. It was first reissued on CD in Japan, and the limited edition copies were quickly sold out, and now over 70 US dollars is asked even for a used copy.
The CD isn't worth of over 50 dollars but together with 2 other Con Funk Shun albums you can now get this 3on2 set at the price of 1 full-priced CD. The album titled 7 was actually Con Funk Shun's eighth album, but their 7th Mercury set, hence the title. The album was their first Mercury album that did NOT reach the top ten of Billboard soul album charts, but it still spent 26 weeks on the charts and reached position The album was reissued on CD first in U.
Thus, another very welcome reissue by Cherry Red, and makes the 3on2 set really worthwhile. The single hit that preceded the album release was Bad Ladywhich peaked at position 19, and thus this explains only the moderate success of the album. However, Dances from the Sopron Book for the Virginal, 17th Century: Hungarian Dances - Camerata Hungarica En album is musically almost as good as its predecessor - only the times were getting worse for all funk groups.
Bad Lady is a worthwhile disco funker with a bouncing rhythm build over a solid bass groove. Vocoder vocals are features Terry Dene - London Rock the chorus, but I can accept vocoder vocals much easier on funk tracks than the vocoder-filtered "autotune" vocals on soul recordings today.
At least they were used for special effect - not to correct the pitch of some The Prophecy - Iron Maiden - Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son singing!
Maybe the string arrangement was a bit out-of-date considering the time the single was released. I'll Get You Back is a more typical funker of its time, having a strong keyboard basis over which Michael Cooper adds his aggressive vocals, Felton Pilate soars with his falsetto and the rest of the group adds horn and guitar riffs and percussion.
A solid track. The group also tried with a more electronic, Midnight Star -type of synthetic burbler Body Lovers a vocoder-inflected 12" version is included as Bad Lady - Con Funk Shun - Touch + 7 + To The Max bonusbut it obviously did not reach any positive feedback as a promo 12" and it was shelved.
No wonder: the A-side is a rather spiritless ballad song, whreas the B-side is an odd pop-oriented plodder complete with rock guitar and some trumpet. A Song for You is not a version of the Leon Russell song but a new, quite forgettable uptempo tune. The album is probably best remembered today because of the timeless, sax-drenched soul ballad Promise Your Lovewhich is laced with jazzy piano playing as well. This is the kind of sophisticated soul ballad highlight that you would expect from a Whispers album, and it was really a surprise on a Con Funk Shun set.
And the group was now self-produced, so there were no Skip Scarborough, Jerry Peters or David Crawford to credit for this. A very uneven set as a whole, but with a couple of essential cuts included. The record company Mercury was probably disappointed with the sales of 7 album, but the next LP To the Max took Con Funk Shun back to top ten of soul album charts.
The surprising thing was that the first single pick Ain't Nobody Baby was a commercial failure, but it was compensated by the release of the more predictible funker Ms. Got the Bodywhich was the second single pick and fared much better than the first single choice.
Ain't Nobody Baby is much darker and funkier of these two, but obviously way too hard-core funk track for chart success in The track even contained a robust sax solo at the end of the track, plus a rap insert. Got the Body was a much more typical synthetic funker of its time, but it of course suited better to radio play and gained spot 15 on soul charts, whereas its predecessor peaked at number Two alternative versions of Ms.
Got the Body are included as a bonus. Freak speak volumes of the nature of the other synthetic funkers included. Not very original, but trendy enough for chart success inwhen real instruments were getting replaced by computer programming. Maybe the most positive aspect was that the group was still able to use real horn section on top of the extremely synthetic grooves. In the liner notes, Ralph Tee mentions Love's Train as the soulful peak of the album.
It is indeed the most soulful cut on display, but really not a great masterpiece on this very disappointing 9-track album. It simply depicted the sign of the times in black music. Real musicians were getting replaced by machines. All in all, To the Max was clearly the weakest link of the three albums included in this double disc set, but you can consider it as a free bonus while buying Con Funk Shun's albums, both of which are extremely high-priced as individual CD reissues.
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