Pointer Sisters —
Steppin ... LP BlueThumb, 1975. Very Good ....
The title and cover are very appropriate for this one – because there's a wickedly stepping groove to the set – one that makes the album the group's funkiest ever! Forget any thoughts you may have about The Pointer Sisters, or the cliches that later came to mar their career – because this is a wonderfully sophisticated album, arranged with a proudly hip groove that's very much the best part of mainstream 70s jazz funk. Tom Salisbury handled the backings, and is working here with a lineup that includes Bil Summers, Wah Wah Watson, Paul Jackson, Herbie Hancock, and Stevie Wonder – all of whom bring some incredible electric jazz touches to the set! Titles include "How Long (Betcha Got A Chick On The Side)", "Sleeping Alone", "Easy Days", "Chainey Do", "Wanting Things", and "Going Down Slowly". LP, Vinyl record album
(In the original shoe-shaped cover, with some wear.)
Their first album, and the one that's got their big version of Allen Toussaint's "Yes We Can Can" – which starts with a nice break, too! Other tracks include "Sugar", "Pains & Tears", "Jasa", "River Boulevard", and "Cloudburst". The album's a lot stronger than later work – done with a kind of nostalgic soul approach, one that was very much in the BlueThumb style of hipness of the early 70s, and less silly than the group's later straight pop style. LP, Vinyl record album
A great album of funky instrumentals from legendary drummer Paul Humphrey – a set that's got a wonderfully quirky feel, and rhythms that change up the groove a lot more than usual! Paul's not content to stick in a simple backbeat mode here – and he really opens up in his approach to the kit on the set – bringing in lots of freer jazzy inflections yet still keeping the tracks short, focused, and nicely to the point. A key example of this groove is the legendary cut "Uncle Willie's Dream" – a quirky little number that dances around tremendously, and which was sampled by Tribe Called Quest for their second album! Instrumentation is mostly in a small combo mode, and players include Phil Upchurch on bass, Joe Sample on keyboards, Charles Owens on reeds, and Arthur Adams on guitar. Titles include "America Wake Up", "Uncle Willie's Dream", "I'd Walk A Mile For A Smile", "Chin Music", "Cochise", "What's That Noise, PK?", "Butterball", and "That's Deep". LP, Vinyl record album
Not Supermellow, but super dope – one of the grooviest albums ever from drummer Paul Humphrey, and a sweet batch of laidback electric funky jazz cuts! Paul's working here with a bit more keyboards and guitar than before – all nicely compressed into the grooves that are directed by his tight work on drums – often stepping around in a really badass mode that we totally love, and which moves past a simple approach to funky rhythms. Humphrey clearly knows that he's got to complicate things a bit more than usual to keep the ears of the increasingly sophisticated 70s listener – by going for hipper changes and timings, while still keeping the tight core funky groove intact. He's helped strongly in his efforts here by players who include Joe Sample, Wilton Felder, and Arthur Adams – all playing in a more laidback, less studio mode than on other sets – and even the arranger Nick Decaro manages to play some groovy accordion on a few tracks! Titles include "Boo A Cha", "Macho", "Do The Buzzard", "Hot Ice Cream", and "Got It Together". LP, Vinyl record album
One of the greatest albums of all time – a masterpiece of moody soul, spacey vocals, and jazzy vibes – all produced by the legendary Roy Ayers! Ramp take their name from the anagram Roy Ayers Musical Productions – and in a way, the group's the summation of all the genius that Roy had been cooking up on his own albums of the 70s – served up at an even higher level than before! The group boasts a unique two-female vocal style – sung together in a mode that had been used on Roy's own albums, but never this fully – all supported by some complex jazzy instrumentation, very heavy on the vibes and keyboards! Nearly every cut is fantastic – and the album has a strange off-kilter vibe that's totally amazing, and which has captivated soul fans for years – a blend of mellow and upbeat, complicated and straightforward that's totally great. Titles include the massive cut "Daylight", sampled famously over the years, plus "American Promise", "Come Into Knowledge", "I Just Love You", and the band's great cover of "Everybody Loves the Sunshine", done in a way that's strangely both similar and different than Roy's own version! LP, Vinyl record album