In 1960s New York both the Scepter/Wand and Musicor/Dynamo group of labels were at the peak of the independent label scene. They had hit artists from across the musical spectrum, but with a very strong foot in the world of soul. By the late 60s, as that world was starting to be strongly influenced by funk, they were in a position as established players in the industry to sign up recordings from all around the United States. “Dynamic Grooves” focuses on the labels’ output providing a snapshot of the scene in which they worked at this time.
The CD acts as a musical tour of the United States West of the Rockies. We start in New Orleans with several works produced by Allen Toussaint, including the incredible ‘Funky Belly’ by Warren Lee, Earl King’s ‘Tic Tac Toe’, Johnny Moore’s proto-funk ‘A Dollar 98’ and Allen’s own take on his classic ‘Working In A Coalmine’. Up the Mississippi in Memphis we encounter Joe Arnold’s ‘Soul Trippin’’. We learn that that Chuck Jackson’s almost garage-like ‘Candy’ would have been recorded at the city’s American Recording Studio if owner Chips Moman hadn’t gone fishing on the day of the session, prompting producer Don Schroeder to take the whole crew back to New Orleans.
From the Carolinas we have the blue-eyed funk of the Backyard Heavies; Benny Gordon’s backing band the Soul Brothers with their ‘Horsin Around’ and then from Washington DC, Harmon Bethea and the Maskmen’s ‘She’s My Meat’. That’s good but his band leader Billy Clark’s ‘Soul Party’ is even better, pure boogaloo funk that will lift any party or club. In Philadelphia George Tindley mixes early Motown with late 60s Motown to create a Temptations-like version of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Ain’t That Peculiar’. Chicago provides plenty of funky grooves in the shape of tracks from Betty Moorer, Jerry O and General Crook, before we head back to New York.
Back in home territory is Dynamo’s leading act Charles & Inez Foxx, who perfectly straddle the line between funk and soul with their ‘Count The Days’, one of several hits they scored for the label at a time when label boss Luther Dixon married Inez. There is also some sizzling funk from Little Grady Lewis on ‘Soul Smokin’’ and one of the finest slabs of latin funk on the Part 2 of ‘Machine Shop’ by the Untouchable Machine Shop. A record that conjures up a hot day in New York if any ever did. Raw Meat’s ‘Funky Humpback’ is the product of a jazz rock group who were setting themselves up to be the next Blood Sweat & Tears before they fell out with each other.
21 tracks of diverse and exciting soul and funk music – “Dynamic Grooves” defines the work being done through New York’s finest in the late 60s and early 70s.
By DEAN RUDLAND (http://acerecords.co.uk/dynamic-grooves)