Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Searching For Soul: Rare & Classic Soul, Funk & Jazz From Michigan 1968-1980

Posted By on Wed, Oct 26, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Alcohol is a killer vice, and Robert Jay knows it. When the Detroit funk legend wrote the infectious “Alcohol” in 1969, he was hungover and mad as hell. Yet Jay’s blues-funked “Alcohol” became one of the most beloved, and nearly impossible-to-find sides in the funk music canon. While a few 7-inch singles can still be located, California’s Luv N’ Haight, a Ubiquity Records offshoot, just made the process much easier.

With the release of this insane comp, jazz, funk, and breakbeat lovers finally have access to some of the rarest grooves from Michigan’s funk underground. Jay’s “Alcohol” is featured, as is the Detroit Sex Machine’s “Rap it Together.” Many songs are from rhythm sections overshadowed by Motown; yet some here were more skilled than the Funk Brothers and Parliament.

Sure, the emphasis is on funk, but Wendell Harrison’s “Farewell to the Welfare” is here, as is plenty of jazz and soul. The real gems are the unknown ballads such as Tommy McGhee’s “Give and Take” and “I Can Deal With That” by Detroit soul chanteuse Dee Edwards. Other obscurities make fine baby-making music, such as the sexy, funky “Trust Me” from Flint-based Aged in Harmony.

And there’s some wonderfully seedy history; you’ll learn about gangster-run labels and others operated in porn stores, and which songs were recorded in basements. The extensive liner notes and rare photos help put faces to sounds. Essential.

Jonathan Cunningham writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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