Civil rights and riots, afros and Watergate. Jazz and funk adapt to the realities of the 1970s.
This is an exciting glimpse into the world of black American funk, jazz and soul from the early 70s. The music has a political agenda, even when it isn’t overtly preaching a message. Recorded after the 60s dream had ended, during the era of Watergate, the oil crisis and a financial crash, there is a schizophrenic edge to the music here. There are tracks about trying to get things right, but also about partying as a way to forget.
The 1960s had been a period of hope, but a spate of assassinations, the war in Vietnam and the collapse of the post-WWII economic boom chipped away at this. Black American music was at a period of creative strength, while constantly being buffeted by the changes within the music business. The major labels were intent of dominating not just white pop music but every part of the business; it was no accident that the biggest soul label of the decade, Philadelphia International, was ostensibly a subsidiary of the mighty CBS Corporation.
“Things Gonna Get Better” examines what was going on in the margins. Independent producers, small labels and the remaining jazz independents released music that mattered, sometimes commenting on the world around them, while others created a soundtrack with which to dance away the real world troubles.
We have music from established names such as Funkadelic and the Fatback Band (masquerading as Macho), collectable 45s from Billy Sha-Rae, Chet Ivey and Idris Muhammad, and established floor-fillers by Oliver Sain and Lonnie Liston Smith. We also present previously unheard masters by Ruby Delicious, Dave Hamilton and Clarence Coulter (the man behind the rare 45 by Prophet & the Disciples).
I’m especially pleased by the jazz tracks we have found. Oliver Nelson is behind his own synth-dominated ‘Skull Session’ and Richard “Groove” Holmes’ ‘125th St And 7th Ave’, while master drummer Bernard Purdie gives us a great take on the Dramatics’ ‘Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get’.
All in all, 20 tracks of vibrant funk, soul and jazz that will keep any party going.