A lot has been said of what constitutes a ‘Breakbeat’. Some say it is the portion of a record that can be used and looped as a beat, either for live DJing or sampled as part of a record, others as a whole new genre of illuminating electronic beats. This writer however embraces all definitions and basks in the richness such musical adventures afford.
Beat Collectors and Crate Diggers have for decades been on the lookout for obscure records that encapsulate the above magic formula, be they for inclusion on a newly recorded track, the prestige of owning and discovering something rare and golden, or simply for the sheer love of the beautiful music itself.
Funk has for a long time been the mainstay of such gems, although due to this and the need for some to seek their treasures elsewhere, many other genres have been delved into of late: folk, rock, world music, in fact anything that provides that unique and magic sparkle deemed worthy for digging.
For the Hip Hop DJ, records were famously first spun and looped back in the day at Bronx block parties by the legendary Kool Herc over which MCs rapped, effectively starting a whole new era of music. There was originally a vinyl series of LPs released in the US entitled the ‘Ultimate Breaks and Beats’ in which such records were compiled and used by DJs, producers and music lovers accordingly. The tracks on these original and essential albums have all now achieved legendary status and are regularly referred to as the standard and originals of the genre, appearing on subsequent compilations as a definitive introduction to also.
In an attempt to introduce new music to our readers, we have compiled an alternative compilation of twenty tracks that, although not obscure to the most dedicated of vinyl junkies, are very different from those found on compilations elsewhere and accordingly offer something new.
This will be the first of many such articles in Tuck Magazine that delve into alternative listening choices for each genre, soon to be accompanied by interviews and regular features on the magic and mystery of music itself.
1. Phil Upchurch – Good Times (1978 US Marlin / T.K. Records LP track)
Most will know Phil Upchurch either from his early 60s rocker ‘You Can’t Sit Down’ or later jazz infused guitar genius, but this cut comes straight from his self titled LP from the late 70s. Produced by the legendary George Benson, this is an instrumental cover of a rare Jackson Five number that, after a bold TV show opening, eases to the mellowest of beats.
Far from chic, this settles in the mellow, more satisfyingly for it also. The album this was taken from is chock full of such beauty but this for me stands out.
2. Paul Humphrey & His Cool Aid Chemists – Baby Rice (1971 US Lizard 7″)
From the outset the drumbeat kicks critically into place as a mean bass joins to create a fusion of menace and cool. This is the B-side to funky session drummer Paul Humphrey’s single, found also on his self titled LP on the short lived and sought after Lizard label.
A straight and basic instrumental but one that mischievously oozes class and character.
3. Liquid Gold – Anyway You Do It (1978 UK Creole Records single)
Hailing from the UK this record gained chart success around the world a year after its original release. Boasting a groove that can justifiably be described as infectious, the tightest of white packs perfectly into three minutes of funk that never for one second lets go.
Heavily riff and beat laden there are numerous delights to be found within, the vocals ripe for transforming in that right retro setting.
4. Sonny Stitt – Slick Eddie (1975 US Cadet Records LP track)
As with our earlier entry on Phil Upchurch, we feature another musical legend who has not only worked with the greats but wowed them as well. Respected and admired by all, saxophonist Sonny Stitt’s prolific recording career lasted over thirty years. This particular track is from an LP in his later mid 70s period and is one that cannot fail to move and groove.
Rocking steadily to an obedient beat, Stitt’s sax hauntingly directs the mood, allowing electric piano to chime attentively to a Hammond’s phrased shuffle before everything spirals into a dream of opportunity and expectation. All in all, a record worthy of anyone’s dusty needle.
5. Bobby Cash Redd – Skate Party People (1983 US Duval Records 12″)
A delicious 80s obscurity that allows a sluggish synth bassline to undulate through an excited beat, creating a dance and cut worthy rhythm that rolls. Vocals sing of those skate party people, dating the dance, but remains funky throughout.
Enjoyable as a straight out boogie to groove to or, failing that, to be cut and looped to ribbons. Gems can be found in all decades, this record very much proving that point.
6. Skorpio – The King With Shred Legs (1976 Hungarian Pepita LP track)
Originally the backing band of legendary Hungarian singer Zaratnay Sarolta, Skorpio also released records in their own right, this from ‘Sweet Sunday’, the second of seven albums recorded.
Here, energetic beats open to a warm fudge bassline as guitar fills the background air to an explosion of funky sounds. Numerous breaks are to be found between the native vocals making it a standout in its own right.
7. Yaffa – Yaffa Ho (1978 French Artistes Africains Associes 7″)
A rare but worthy slab of thirsty funk, full of the ingredients necessary for a vinyl junkie’s excursion, Yaffa Seydou’s mid seventies white label outing just itches to be wooed.
From the carefree shuffle of an unshackled beat, horn breaks blaze to the revolving whirl of improvised ecstasy, Yaffa on fire as rhythm rewrites the rules.
8. Denise LaSalle – Get Up Off My Mind (1974 US Westbound Records 7″)
This strong single is led by cymballed circles of guitar that sound familiar but achingly are still ripe for picking; these ultimately are the breaks and what separate the weak from able.
Confident alongside a teasing but attentive beat, ‘Queen’ Denise lets rip to the joys of waiting brass and bass. An incredible record in its own right, this was released as a single on Westbound and deserves more affection.
9. RD Burman feat. Asha Bhasle – Aaj Mera Dil (1982 Indian HMV LP track)
Rich with mysticism this wild slab of sitar based beauty will take you on a journey to beyond and back. Exotic to uneducated ears perhaps but equally as alluring to those well seasoned, prolific Bollywood composer Burman’s arrangements rarely fail to provide surprise and delight within.
Add to this the tones of Hindi legend Bhasle and you are transported hypnotically to a beat digger’s heaven.
10. Dick Walter – Time Out (1975 UK Amphonic Music Ltd LP track)
Opening with an inviting guitar riff this soon rolls into a fast moving beat with an excited electric piano joining the party.
Famous for his compositions and arrangements for TV, Walter provides a two minute trip into unheard seventies sounds where dreams merge with drama in the illusion of a visual speaker.
11. Dave Hamilton – Cracklin Bread (1970s US TCB 7″)
Imagine the wah wah funk of Starsky and Hutch’s opening theme set on one hypnotic loop that won’t for one second let up. This is ‘Cracklin Bread’.
Rescued from the depths of Detroit guitarist and producer Hamilton’s dusty vaults this is an instant classic on first hearing and should play around in your own funky head for days. Drive on.
12. David Fathead Newman – Fire Weaver (1972 US Atlantic LP track)
It should come as no surprise that the pairing of two legends, Newman and Roy Ayers, produces such results. So effortless is the instrumentation that the strictest of arrangements sound as free as improvisation can be.
Fathead’s sax provides the direction in a picture the mind’s eye sees and hears. Add to this the percussion of Ralph MacDaniels and seven minutes of jazz funk take the listener back to the lost art of timelessness in music.
13. Gary Numan – Films (1979 UK Beggars Banquet LP track)
UK Hip Hop heads of the old school will instantly recognise this from the seminal BBC documentary ‘Bad Meaning Good’, in which DJ Fingers cuts the opening drum break of this record from one Technics turntable to another.
It’s not a rare number by any means, appearing on electric synth legend Numan’s ‘Pleasure Principle’ LP, but one that doesn’t appear to have been used as often as it perhaps could have been by DJs and rappers alike, aside from GZA’s lazy use in recent years that is. Breathing as a soundtrack to an imagined sci fi film, the beat bounces along with its trusted bassline before metallic synths bleed into the artist’s otherworldly vision.
14. Alan Hawkshaw – Fuel Injection (1978 UK Bruton Music LP track)
If Miami Vice had been made in seventies London, its opening theme would have sounded something like this. Alan Hawkshaw is another musical legend who not too many know by name, but certainly know when they hear his compositions. Being not only a member of Emile Ford and the Checkmates but the innovative Hammond ‘Champ’ funkers The Mohawks too, it is surprising therefore that Hawkshaw is known more for the numerous TV themes attributed to him.
Reminiscent very much of his disco period but filed strictly under the dusty goldmine of library funk, Hawkshaw breathes life into this number through smooth orchestral arrangements that dance with the sprinkled stardust of delicate piano over a determined and buzzing beat. One of many such classics under this banner, and worthy of each music lover’s attention for it.
15. Tangerine Dream – Gaudi Park (1985 UK Jive Electro LP track)
This is another that should be familiar to oldschool B-Boys from the UK as it was used regularly as a backing track by Capital Radio DJ Mike Allen on its release in the mid eighties.
Featured on German electronic pioneers Tangerine Dream’s themed ‘Le Parc’ album, this is one of many deemed ripe for such uses, being one step ahead of its time as they so often were throughout their lengthy career. Within the confines of rolling grooves of wax the band fashion the pound of prophetic beats only for thunder to soon strike, creating a static mood of hope and reflection.
16. Sandro Brugnolini – Amofen (1970 Italian Sicro Edizioni Musicali LP track)
Often one has to travel the world to fully sample the many delights music has to offer, this being no exception.
Here Italian composer Brugnolini invites us to his own party of imagined friends who mingle to create a haze of seductiveness, whispering along to a steady bass and beat. One of so many gems to be found in the vaults of forgotten souls, this only increases the thirst for more.
17. Harvey Mason – Hop Scotch (1975 US Arista LP track)
Now this is one funky cut from jazz drummer Mason and a host of talented friends that would in most countries be illegal to ignore.
Resting snugly on his debut album, this has it all. Guitar licks smooth the way within for an assortment of stars to shine over an impossibly cool beat, as Herbie Hancock’s piano makes its presence known throughout. Merging funk with jazz, dreams could not get more real as the magic of music takes over.
18. The New Jersey Queens and Friends – Party And Don’t Worry About It (1973 US Magnet Records 7″)
A personal favourite of this writer and one even after repeated plays I still find impossible not to groove unashamedly like a crazed fool to. I credit the UK’s own Cookie Crew for introducing this to me, effectively being the basis for their Daddy O produced number ‘Pick up on this’.
Solid in both vocal and instrumental versions, it opens with the lure of an addictive bassline before the shuffle of an educated beat takes over and forms the basis for one Hammond led jumper. There aren’t many better than this.
19.Doug Anderson – Hey Mama, Here Comes The Preacher (1971 US Janus Records 7″)
And the cuts just get deeper and deeper. Rocking along to one incessant groove this rates up there with the very funkiest of them as surely even the 45 King himself must be salivating at what could have been.
Originally the B-side to an obscure Eddie Bo produced seven inch this just aches to be the basis of anything and everything good. Seek and destroy all misconceptions of what once was.
20. Mike Longo – Angel Of Love (1976 US Pablo Records LP track)
You can blow dust from the darkest of grooves and still discover gold.
The jazzman here speaks through his fingers, Longo’s piano accompanying the dutiful drums of a laid back jam as the mood soon stirs and increases in tempo. From his ‘76 LP ‘Talk With The Spirits’, this certainly does, providing a mixing pot of musical gems that melts the coldest of minds.
The links above are purely for entertainment purposes only and you are urged to seek out the original releases, if of course you can find them…………..
Do you have an Alternative Best Of selection? Readers are invited to submit their own thoughts and selections via the Comments section or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
One half of Tuck Magazine. A music lover whose first record was a seven inch of Hank Mizell’s ‘Jungle Rock’ (or it could have been Pinky and Perky, the memory is a little hazy) and is passionate about all things music, in particular Oldschool Hip Hop, Rock and Roll, Dylan, Jazz, Led Zep and Blues; in fact anything and everything good.