King Records of Cincinnati was one of the most influential record labels in the history of music. They recorded jump blues, rockabilly, vocal groups, rock'n'roll, country and excelled in all those areas. Names such as Hank Ballard, the Five RoyalEs, Billy Ward and the Dominoes and Little Willie John stare out from the labels and titles like Fever, Honky Tonk and The Twist all made their debut on Syd Nathan's mammoth independent. It was in the mid-60s that the label made its most influential stamp on the music world. Its then #1 star unleashed a record that was defined by its unchanging solid groove rather than its melody. James Brown's Papa's Got A Brand New Bag may not have been the first funk record - check Gene Ammons Ca'Purange from his Bad! Bossa Nova album on Prestige - but it put it in an accessible context. For King, it meant that its next ten years were dominated by either James Brown productions or attempts to recreate that success with other producers.
King Funk rounds up much of the great music that was produced during this period and, unlike others, relies on the original masters for superior sound quality. From the James Brown camp we have old King stars Hank Ballard and Bill Doggett revitalised by a shade of Brown magic. We also include the rare 1972 outing by the JBs under the name the Sons Of Funk From The Back Side (titter ye not). Ballard is also on the original version of Unwind Yourself produced by Charles Spurling. Our 50s hit-makers are topped off by the Coasters with a couple of cuts from their sought-after 1972 album On Broadway including the much-sampled Down Home Girl.
We round up several more super-rare moments, including Roosevelt Matthews hooked up with Billy Ball and the Upsetters on Tighten Up which would set you back more than ¬£500 for an original. We also have three tracks from Marie 'Queenie' Lyons' ultra-rare DeLuxe album including the magnificent See Don't See and Fever. Add to this the much-wanted singles by Over Night Low, Soul East and James K-Nine and you can see we are truly cooking.
Of the other tracks there is a level of consistency that would rock most people's worlds. My personal favourite is the wonderful Gold Walk by the Presidents, whilst J Hines and the Fellows' Camelot Time is a big favourite with DJ/producer David Holmes. This is music that is funky and some. Listen and enjoy.
By Dean Rudland