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CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Ron BanksTruly Bad ... CD
Columbia/FTG, 1983. New Copy ... $9.99 13.98
One of the original Dramatics, singer Ron Banks strikes out here on his own – a slept on gem from the early 80s! The set's in a similar modern soul mode to LJ Reynolds, who also worked with him in the group, and was having a bit of a solo career of his own at the time. It's got sort of a D-Train feel to it – with classic male soul vocals over instrumentation that includes some slight electro touches, especially on keyboards and drum programs. Banks keeps the whole thing nice and soulful, thanks to some great vocal work, which you'll hear on the smooth mellow track "Let Love Flow", which has a beautiful down-tempo groove, and a nice two-step beat – plus the other mellow tracks like "Make It Easy On Yourself" and "You and Me". Uptempo club cuts include "Truly Bad", "Zap", and "She's So Good to Me". CD

Close matches2
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Bionic BoogieHot Butterfly (with bonus tracks) ... CD
Polydor/FTG, 1978. New Copy ... $15.99 16.98
A dancefloor classic! The album's the second by Gregg Diamond's Bionic Boogie, and head and shoulders above the rest – a sublime blend of soul and club that's hardly been matched again! Diamond manages to make things groove, but never loses sight of the soulful styles that make the record so great – and works here with key contributions from a young Luther Vandross, who gives the album some of the same strong vocal arrangements he brought to his own first two albums on Atlantic! Luther sings lead on the album's legendary track "Hot Butterfly", and works in a group with Cissy Houston on other tracks – sweetly soaring with vocals that go far beyond most disco efforts of the time. Simply sublime, and with classics that include "Hot Butterfly", "Paradise", "Cream (Always Rises To The Top)", "Chains", and "When The Sh*t Hits The Fan (Rocket Pocket)". Includes 4 bonus cuts too – "Hot Butterfly (Jim Burgess disco rmx)", "Chains (Gregg Diamond spectacular rmx)", "Fess Up To The Boogie (Gregg Diamond disco rmx)", and "Chains (Jim Burgess disco rmx)". CD

Close matches3
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
BrickSummer Heat/After 5 ... CD
Bang/FTG, 1981/1982. New Copy ... $15.99 16.98
A massive double-header from Brick – two Columbia albums back to back on a single CD! First up is smoking Summer Heat from Brick – an 80s outing that furthers the tight tight groove they started back in the 70s! Given that Brick were one of the groups who really set the sound for the next generation, they're right at home here – working with some production help from Ray Parker Jr, in a style that bubbles over nicely with tight rhythms and warmer vocal bits – all balanced out nicely, in ways that are better than most of the group's contemporaries! Titles include "Sweat", "Sea Side Vibes", "Sure Feels Good", "Summer Heat", "The Happening", and "Wide Open". After 5 has a classy title, and is a record with grooves that are even classier than usual for Brick – thanks to a style that seems to bring up a jazzy vibe a bit more on some cuts, while still keeping things in the tightly funky mode of their roots! There's definitely a prime Brick sound going on here – that wicked wrapping of bass, keyboards, and drums the group laid down on their debut – but the whole thing's also taken a bit further, too – almost echoing some of the more complicated changes of the 80s groove generation! Titles include "Stick By You", "Let It Roll", "It's A New Day", "Peace Of Mind", "When You Believe", "Free Dancer", and "Wild & Crazy". CD

Close matches4
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Pattie BrooksLove Shook/Our Ms Brooks ... CD
Casablanca/FTG, 1977/1978. Used ... $4.99
A disco double-header! First up is Love Shook – classic disco from Pattie Brooks, and a soaring 70s set that's right up there with the best Casablanca Records grooves of the time! The rhythms here are upbeat and lively – strings mixed in with quick-stepping rhythms, all set to the vocals of Pattie, which have just the right sort of flow to take off nicely in the setting! Titles include "Love Shook", "Let's Make Love To The Music", "Girl Don't Make Me Wait", and a totally cool "Pop Collage Medley", which features bits of "Popcorn" and "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye". Next is Our Ms Brooks – a record that has Pattie reunited with the Soul Galore production team – working with backdrops that are full, but never too overblown – right in that perfect Casablanca mode! Titles include "Heartbreak In Disguise", "After Dark", "This Is The House Where Love Died", and "The Back-up Singer". CD
(Out of print.)

Close matches5
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
BrothersDon't Stop Now (with bonus tracks) ... CD
RCA/FTG, 1976. New Copy ... $12.99 13.98
Great stuff – and the kind of group that would be easy to overlook if the tracks weren't so good! The Brothers were clearly some sort of a studio project designed to cash in on the disco craze – and they included Bhen Lanzaroni on keyboards, who'd also recorded a bit on his own as a studio player. The record's not hard-hitting funk, but it does have a smooth instrumental disco sound that's got a lot of nice jazzy touches, and which never lapses into the cliches you'd expect. The band were hip enough to cover Antonio Carlos & Jocafi's classic Brazilian groover "Voce Abousou", done here with vocals on the chorus only – and they come up with some nice numbers on their own, like "Make Love", "Brothers Theme", "Don't Stop Now", and "Under The Skin". This CD version is loaded with bonus tracks, too, including "Brothers Theme (12" Version)", "Make Move (12" Version)", "Under The Skin (12" Promo Version)", "Don't Stop Now (7" Version)", "The Word Is A Mess (7" Version)", "Brothers Theme (7" Version)" and "Voce Abousou (Vo-Say Ah-Bu-So) (7" Version)". CD

Close matches6
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
James BrownI'm Real (2CD deluxe edition) ... CD
Scotti Bros/FTG, 1988. New Copy 2CD ... $16.99 18.98
James Brown gets a new injection of life at the end of the 80s – thanks to a collaboration here with Full Force, who wrote, arranged, and produced the album! The groove here is often more in a Full Force mode than you might expect from James – a full-on 80s urban sound, filled with plenty of beats at the bottom, yet still allowing The Godfather plenty of space to do his thing vocally! In a way, the format's almost a bit like some of the James Brown remix work that was showing up around the same time – except that the tunes are all new, and somewhat different territory for James. Titles include "I'm Real", "Static (parts 1 & 2)", "You & Me", "Time To Get Busy", "She Looks All Types A Good", "Keep Keepin", and "Can't Git Enuf". 2CD version is overflowing with bonus tracks – 10 more cuts from singles, including "Tribute (special version)", "Static (Full Force rmx)", "I'm Real (special version)", "Real (Full Force hyped up rmx)", "Time To Get Busy (Full Force rmx)", and "Busy JB (time to get get mix)". CD

Close matches7
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Keni BurkeChanges (with bonus tracks) ... CD
RCA/FTG, 1981. New Copy ... $9.99 16.98
A standout solo moment from the amazing Keni Burke – an artist who's come a long way from his youthful start in the 5 Stairsteps! Keni had recorded other adult work by the time of this early 80s set, but Changes is easily his best-remembered album – a masterpiece of 80s groove, all arranged and produced by Burke – who also played a fair bit of the music on the set as well! The tunes are upbeat and grooving – often with a rhythm that goes nicely right down the middle, and never tries to be too funky or clubby. This groove is epitomized by Burke's classic "Risin' To The Top" – a tune that's been sampled heavily over the years, to great fame – and which is probably the lasting legacy of this set. But the whole album's totally great – sophisticated 80s groove at its best – with other cuts that include "Who Do You Love", "Shakin", "Can't Get Enough", "Changes", "All Night", and "Hang Tight". CD features bonus tracks – "Shakin (7" mix)", "Can't Get Enough (7" mix)", and "Risin To The Top (7" mix)". CD

Close matches8
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Keni BurkeYou're The Best (with bonus tracks) ... CD
RCA/FTG, 1982. New Copy ... $9.99 16.98
A really wonderful album from Keni Burke – recorded around the same time as his classic Changes set, and in some ways even better than that record! The set's got a fantastic mellow soul feel – lots of tracks that are uptempo, but which manage to hang onto a soulful finish that really sends the whole set home – a groove that's never too forced, and which has keep this one at the top of list of classics over years! Burke's hitting a rare space that we'd only allow to a few – like Leroy Hutson or Webster Lewis. Keni's come a long long way from the 5 Stairsteps by this point – and he's never sounded so great! Titles include "Let Somebody Love You", "You're the Best", "Night Riders", and "Gotta Find My Way Back In Your Heart". Keni produced, wrote, and arranged the whole thing! CD features bonus tracks – "You're The Best (7" mix)", "You're The Best (12" mix)", "Night Riders (7" mix)", "Night Riders (12" mix)", "Let Somebody Love You (7" mix)", and "Let Somebody Love You (inst)". CD

Close matches9
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Jenny BurtonJenny Burton (with bonus tracks) ... CD
Atlantic/FTG, 1985. New Copy ... $9.99 16.98
A classic from Jenny Burton – only the singer's second album as a solo act, but already a set that has Jenny hitting on all burners! The mellow numbers are great – never sleepy or too commercial, but pushed into just the right blend of polish and soul – and the groovers have some electro touches that hint back and Burton's start working with John Robie – modes that are underdone here in ways that hold together a lot more strongly than the usual electro dancefloor cut. Some production is by Maurice Starr – and cuts include "Dancing For My Love", "Bad Habits", "Once In A Lifetime Love", "Load It Up", and "Love Runs Deeper Than Pride". CD features bonus tracks – "Bad Habits (7" version)", "Dancing For My Love (voc)", and "Dancing For My Love (dub)". CD

Close matches10
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
ChampaignHow Bout Us (with bonus tracks) ... CD
Columbia/FTG, 1981. New Copy ... $9.99 16.98
skooA wonderful treasure from the early 80s soul scene – the first album from Champaign, and an instant winner right from the start! The group may not have been one of the bigger names of their time, but they really won a lot of favor with soul listeners over the years – and this album's one that turns up often in collections of top-shelf soul from the period – no surprise, given the classy, careful production – and the mix of jazzy riffing, tight rhythms, and well-crafted vocals – almost enough to put Champaign at the level of Earth Wind & Fire! The sound is just right – very soulful, with less of the too-commercial modes of some of their contemporaries – and titles include "Party People", "Whiplash", "I'm On Fire", "How Bout Us", "Can You Find The Time", "Dancin Together Again", "If One More Morning", and "Lighten Up". CD features bonus 7" versions of "How Bout Us" and "I'm On Fire". CD

Close matches11
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Tyrone DavisLet's Be Closer Together (with bonus tracks) ... CD
Columbia/FTG, 1977. New Copy ... $13.99 14.98
The cover has Tyrone Davis in a very diverse crowd, but the record is pure Davis all the way through – that great blend of bluesy roots and classier soul that made most of his 70s records so wonderful! The approach here is even more careful and well put-together than some of Tyrone's last records at the indie label Dakar – a new step forward on Columbia, where songwriter/producer Leo Graham gave Davis some great material to work with – helping him to find a strong new voice, just as most of his audience was doing the same. Titles include "In The Sand", "This I Swear", "I Got Carried Away", "Let's Be Closer Together", "You Need Love", "All You Got", and "If That's What It Takes". CD features bonus 7" mixes of "All You Got" and "This I Swear". CD

Close matches12
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
EnchantmentSoft Lights Sweet Music (with bonus track) ... CD
RCA/FTG, 1980. New Copy ... $12.99 13.98
The only RCA album from Enchantment – and a great little set that has the group stretching out from their earlier records on United Artists! The groove here is still awash in the great harmonies we've always loved from the group – and production is by Don Davis, who always has a great ear for preserving the core soul of any act like this – while also helping them focus their sound as well! The mix is quite similar to excellent work Don did with the Dramatics at the end of the 70s – and Enchantment really benefit with a similar ear for a bouncy groove, and that great Davis way of knowing just the right point when to slow things down on an album, too. Titles include "Settin It Out", "I Believe In You", "Moment Of Weakness", "You & Me", "I Can't Be The One", "Soft Lights Sweet Music", and "I Can't Fake It". CD features a bonus 12" mix of "Settin It Out". CD

Close matches13
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Aretha FranklinThrough The Storm (2CD version – with bonus tracks) ... CD
Arista/FTG, 1989. New Copy 2 CDs ... $14.99 15.98
Aretha Franklin at the end of the 80s – capping off a big run of records for Arista with another successful collaboration with Narada Michael Walden! There's a bit more of a groove here than before – a nice bounce on many cuts that almost brings in a slight new jack flavor – but handled with a bit more class, given Walden's legacy – and the album's got a lot of collaborative moments, including appearances from James Brown, Whitney Houston, Elton John, The Four Tops, and Kenny G. Titles include "Gimme Your Love", "Mercy", "It Isn't It Wasn't It Ain't Never Gonna Be", "Through The Storm", "If Ever A Love There Was", "Think 1989", and "Come To Me". 2CD version features 17 more bonus tracks – including an "Aretha Franklin & James Brown Interview", plus a few "purple mix" versions of "Gimme Your Love", with a Paisley Park pedigree – and 11 more mixes of "It Isn't It Wasn't It Ain't Never Gonna Be" – including hip hop, house, new jack, and after hours mixes. CD

Close matches14
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
GQFace To Face (with bonus track) ... CD
Arista/FTG, 1981. New Copy ... $15.99 16.98
Wonderfully solid grooving from GQ – an album issued a few years after their bigger hits, but it's still plenty great and just as worthy! The trio have a wonderful way of laying out a sweet harmony without getting too cloying, nor too poppy – and the best cuts here glide along beautifully in a mellow or midtempo mode! There's a tightness here that reminds us of Tavares or The Main Ingredient at their best – but a bit more modern soul overall, and often with a very slight nod towards the growing 80s groove mode. Titles include "Face To Face", "I Love (The Skin You're In)", "Sad Girl", "Shy Baby", "Shake", "You've Got The Floor", "Dark Side Of The Sun", and "Boogie Shoogie Feelin". This edition from Funky Town Grooves includes the bonus track "Try Smurfin'". CD

Close matches15
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Hues CorporationRockin Soul/Love Corporation (with bonus track) ... CD
RCA/FTG, 1974/1975. New Copy ... $15.99 16.98
A pair of classic 70s albums from Hues Corporation – back to back on a single CD! Rockin Soul is groovy crossover soul from The Hues Corporation – music that's perfectly tuned to come right out of the small speakers on an AM radio, yet still retain all the depth of the arrangements! The trio are hitting their best pre-disco stride here – as the album brings back the tune "Rock The Boat", which was a bit buried on their debut – and surrounds it with a number of equally grooving tunes arranged by Tom Sellers – numbers that don't yet have a straight disco approach, and which instead work through a mix of playful styles that bring the most out of the interplay between the vocals. In addition to "Rock The Boat", other titles include "I Got Caught Dancing Again", "No End In Sight", "Ease On Down The Road", "Love's There", "I'll Take A Melody", "Into My Music", and "Rockin Soul". Love Corporation is lesser-known 70s work from Hues Corporation – but still pretty darn sweet! As with other efforts for RCA, the overall sound is somewhat polished, but never too commercial – kind of a more mainstream take on harmony soul modes from a few years before – especially the mixed male/female approach at the end of the 60s. There's a bit of disco in the backings, but usually not too much – and most of the production is in that tight AM radio-friendly RCA mode that worked perfectly back in the day. Arrangements are by Michael Omartin, HB Barnum, and Larry Carlton – and titles include "He's My Home", "Gold Rush", "You Showed Me What Love Is", "Long Road", "One Good Night Together", "Soul Sailin", and "Sing To Your Song". CD also features one bonus track – "He's My Home (7" version)". CD

Close matches16
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Bobbi HumphreyGood Life (with bonus tracks) ... CD
Epic/FTG, 1979. New Copy ... $12.99 13.98
Excellent later work from Bobbie Humphrey – working here in a style that's different than her early albums for Blue Note – but still equally great! Bobbi's a bit more of a singer here, but the record still features loads of great work on flute as well – in these tight, full arrangements put together by Ralph MacDonald and William Eaton, both of whom really know their way around a groove! At some level, the shift is similar to that made by Patrice Rushen on her first few Elektra albums – a style that's more compressed than before, yet still every bit as soulful – and a great evolution for Bobbi Humphrey as an artist. The whole thing's great – and titles include "Say The Word", "Sweet N Low", "Living For The Music", "Love When I'm In Your Arms", "Year From Now", and "The Good Life". CD features bonus 7" mixes of "Love When I'm In Your Arms" and "Sweet N Low". CD

Close matches17
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Phyllis HymanYou Know How To Love Me (with bonus tracks) ... CD
Arista/FTG, 1979. New Copy ... $14.99 15.98
A classic 1979 album from Phyllis Hyman! Hyman was one of the few female singers who started in the pre-disco years and managed to move through the disco years with a good groove – but never get totally swamped by the production styles of the day. She stuck close to her roots as a jazzy soul singer, and produced great albums like this – which mixed pop club grooves with more sophisticated arrangements, handled very well here by the production team of Reggie Lucas and James Mtume. Titles include the stormer "You Know How To Love Me", plus "Some Way", "Under Your Spell", "But I Love You", and "Give A Little More". Lots of bonus tracks too – including "You're The One", "Riding The Tiger (12" dance version)", "Tonight You & Me (disco version)", and 7" mixes of "You Sure Look Good To Me", "You Know How To Love Me", and "Under Your Spell". CD

Close matches18
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
JM SilkHold On To Your Dream (with bonus tracks) ... CD
RCA/FTG, 1987. Used ... $8.99
A nice one from JM Silk – from that brief moment when the spotlight shone on the Chicago house scene and it appeared as if it might make a bigger commercial splash – a record that holds up really well! All these years down the road. we know that house music never died, but it never exploded into the mainstream the way the label heads at the time would have liked. This album's has peak moments in which you can sense the crossover potential, but its highlights cut much deeper than that, and it's much more than just a sentimental moment for us Chicagoans. Includes the great remake of "I Can't Turn Around", the house music anthem "Jack Your Body", "Let The Music Take Control", "Heart Of Passion", "Hold On To Your Dream", "Lucky To Be Loved" and more. This 2011 edition from Funky Town Grooves includes 5 bonus tracks: "I Can't Turn Around (House Mix)", "Jack Your Body (Club Your Body)", "She's So Far Away (House Mix)" and "Cry Of The Lonely (Club House Mix)". CD
(Out of print.)

Close matches19
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Jones GirlsOn Target (with bonus tracks) ... CD
RCA/FTG, 1983. New Copy ... $15.99 16.98
Post-Philly, and the girls are working here with Fonzi Thornton and Robert Wright – who choose to start off the album with a silly bit of dialogue that has them talking to the singers from the production booth (possibly letting them know that Gamble & Huff are no longer in charge!) Here's a record that we dig a whole lot more than we remember – with a crisp, bright period production vibe that's kind of come full circle after all these years. The girls shoot for that popular 80s mode and they hit the mark – bullseye! Titles include "On Target", "I Can Make A Difference", "Curious", "I'm A Woman Here", "Knockin", and "2 Win U Back". This FTG edition has 3 bonus tracks: "2 Win U Back (12" Version)", "On Target (Instrumental)" and "On Target (12" Version)". CD

Close matches20
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Evelyn Champagne KingMusic Box (with bonus tracks) ... CD
RCA/FTG, 1979. New Copy ... $15.99 16.98
Niceness from Evelyn King to cap the end of the 70s! She's really in great form here – stepping out with some fully clubby backings, and working with the mighty T-Life, who's really got a great ear for her groove! The style's a bit less disco than previous albums – some simpler soul at points, mixed with other upbeat modes that hearken a bit more towards the sound of the dancefloor in the early 80s – almost a precursor to that decade's groove at points. Evelyn's vocals are proudly soaring throughout – never too over the top, and always right on the money – and tracks include "Music Box", "I Think My Heart Is Telling", "Out There", "It's OK", "No Time For Fooling Around", and "Make Up Your Mind". This FTG edition has 4 bonus tracks: "Music Box (12" Version)", "Out There (12" Version)", "Make Up Your Mind (12" Version)" and "Out There (7" Version)". CD
 
 
 



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