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Issue 1086

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Review

Bar-Kays: AS one/ Nightcruising/Propositions/dangerous

BK1

9

6.1

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UK release date 08.01.2018

When it comes to bands with such a rare quality commodity as these guys you most certainly have to take your hat off to them.They are a testament to longevity and change.This sterling platter concentrates on the albums made between 1980 and 1984 but before I wax lyrical about these funk bombs, let's take a quick look at their potted history which I'm sure all discerning soul fans will find fascinating.

Formed in 1967 their first hit the classic 'SoulFinger' was a R&B smash for Stax records and whilst still a high school band they were chosen by Otis Redding to be his touring /backing band however, tragedy soon struck as both Otis and four members were killed in a plane crash decimating both band and soul history. The remaining members soldiered on and soon became Stax's stalwarts backing and recording for major artists such as Isaac Hayes on his classic time piece 'Hot Buttered Soul' and who could forget their single of '72 'Son Of Shaft'? Featured in the film 'Wattstax' a funk fuelled gem but with the demise of Stax in 1975 the band swapped labels and moved to Mercury records in 1975 which proved a fruitful union lasting until 1989.
The Bar-Kay's epitomised moving with the times through disco and then onto 80's funk and R&B providing many hits and this absolutely cracking compilation gets off to a fine start with the barnstorming and energetic 'Boogie Body Land' replete with burbling bass,punchy horns and tight funky guitar (not unlike the sound Bruno Mars uses on Uptown Funk!) And with 'Say It Through Love' and 'Open Your Heart' shows us they are no one funk trick pony -this as good as anything Earth Wind & Fire could muster,let me just say The Bar-Kay's are a seminal and epic band and still going!

'Night Crusing' sees them heavily influenced by (but matching) Rick James, as this album portrays the musical zeitgeist of the times bands such as SOS band,Cameo,Prince,The Fatback Band - a golden era and multi band personnel changes didn't have a negative effect either from their overall efficacy, a cohesive sound ineffably aided and abetted by their longstanding relationship with producer Allen Jones who was responsible for the band having hits every year from 1977 to 1982, with party people hitting the dance floor for “Hit N Run,” “Move Your Boogie Body” and “She Talks To Me With Her Body.”

In 1983, more changes took place Sherman Guy and Charles Allen quit the group as the band pursued a more commercial direction in keeping with the street sounds sound of the early '80s. In 1984, Dangerous produced one of the group's biggest hits, "Freakshow on the Dancefloor," and several more R&B chart hits in "Dirty Dancer" and "Sex-O-Matic." All included on this whopping great fertile tome of a product 32 tracks long! A band who were much bigger at home than they were here in the UK -dig in people, this is action packed with goodies and a retrospective to die for!
Words Emrys Baird

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