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Brothers Johnson: Light Up the Night – 1980

Label: A&M
Produced by: Quincy Jones
Classic 80’s Quincy Jones production featuring most of the LA studio mafia, and Louis Johnson’s excellent bass work. Be sure to also check out the very good "Blam!" from 1978.

Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers: Bustin’ Loose – 1979
Label: Valley Vue – V2 53903
Produced by: James Purdie
Released on CD in 1992. Originally released on the Washington "go-go" label Source in 1979. Very hard to find on CD.

Keni Burke: Changes – 1982
Label: RCA – ND 90555
Produced by: Kenneth M. Burke
Great bass player who never really has gotten the recognition he very well deserves. Born Kenneth M. Burke on September 28, 1953 in Chicago, he first started out as a teen member of the family group The Five Stairsteps. Burke’s self-produced debut album, "Keni Burke" was released in 1977 (never released on CD and extremely hard to find even on LP). Some tracks from that album was issued as a RCA CD (PD 90682) as "The Wonderful World Of Keni". Becoming an in-demand session bass player he can be heard on everyone from Sly & The Family Stone, Natalie Cole, Billy Preston, The Emotions, Stargard, Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers, Narada Michael Walden, Ramsey Lewis, Diana Ross and Gladys Knight. 

In 1981, Burke got a new solo album deal with RCA Records. The self produced album "You’re The Best" included the singles, the jubilant «Let Somebody Love You», and the title track «You’re The Best». Both became post-release 12" collectables. Other album highlights were a cover of Todd Rundgren’s «Love Is The Answer" and the sweet ballad "Gotta Find My Way Back In Your Heart», co-written by Burke and Bill Withers. 

His next RCA album, 1982’s "Changes" yielded his biggest solo hit. Though the now classic "Risin’ To The Top» peaked at #63 R&B in late summer 1982, it was a huge hit in his native Chicago and has been sampled by a myriad of hip-hop/rap and urban artists. (Doug E. Fresh: «Keep Risin’ To The Top», Mary J. Blige: «Love No Limit»,  Ali: "Feelin’ You"). "Changes" was issued on CD by RCA/BMG with two bonus tracks from the "You’re The Best" album. Burke worked as a writer/producer (frequently with keyboardist Dean Gant and former Average White Band drummer Steve Ferrone) with The O’Jays "Put Our Heads Together», («When Will I See You Again" 1983), «Love You Direct» («Love & More" 1984). The Jones Girls "Keep It Comin’" 1984 (the title track, «You Can’t Have My Love" and «Ah Ah Ah Ah»). The Whispers (and the 1993 solo album of lead singers Walter & Scotty), Keith Sweat, George Howard, Peabo Bryson, Bill Withers, among others. 

After meeting Expansion Records (UK) executive Ralph Tee at a Berwick Soul Weekender, Burke signed with the Sony-distributed UK label and "Nothin’ But Love» was released March 1998. Check www.homdrum.no/burke for more info.

ConFunkShun: Best of vol.1 & 2 – 1993 & 1996
Label: Mercury
Produced by: Skip Scarborough and others
Two great 17 and 16 track CD compilations. Vol 1. is maybe the strongest of the two. They had a killer combination with Michael Cooper’s vocals and Felton Pilate’s guitar. Listen especially to the ultra strong ballads. The mellow "By Your Side" is still on my all-time top-10 list some 18 years after it was first released.

Fatback: The Fattest of.. – 1997
Label: Rhino
Produced by: Fatback
Very good 14 track compilation from these old funkmasters. Contains probably the first commercial rap record ever, "King Tim III". This was originally on a 7" b-side, but black radio stations picked it up and it was soon to be re-released as the a-side. Also check out the 1983 album "Is this the Future?".

Gap Band: III – 1980
Gap Band: IV – 1981
Label: Mercury
Produced by: Lonnie Simmons
Two great albums. The name "Gap" comes from 3 streets in their home town Tulsa, – Greenwood, Archer and Pine. Known for using a special guitar that sounds like a cross between a Spanish guitar and a mandolin, – built like a French ukulele with 6 strings. Featuring "Burn Rubber on Me", "When I look in Your Eyes" and "Early in the Morning".

Heatwave: Dance Hits (Best of)  – 1992
Label: Sony
Produced by: Various
Among all the Heatwave compilations, this one is definitely the best. 16 tracks, most of them penned by the excellent songwriter Rod Temperton, responsible for many hits by Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson among others.

Instant Funk: Instant Funk – 1981
Label: Salsoul
Produced by: Bunny Sigler
Salsoul Records in-house band’s first release. Featuring the classic "Got my Mind Made Up".

Rick James: Streetsongs – 1981
Label: Motown
Produced by: Rick James
A classic album from the master of punk-funk. Including the much sampled "Super Freak".

Al Johnson: Back For More – 1980
Label: Sony Japan – SRCS 6131
Produced by: Norman Connors
Definitely worth checking out because of the three mellow tracks "I’ve got my Second Wind", "Tonight ‘s the Night for Love" and "Back for More", a duet with Jean Carn. Otherwise this album is a little disco. Jap. CD release only.

Quincy Jones: The Dude – 1981
Label: A&M
Produced by: Quincy Jones
This dude probably needs no introduction. Classic 80’s production by the man himself. Featuring James Ingram and Patti Austin on vocals and several songs penned by ex-Heatwave member Rod Temperton.

L.T.D.:  Love To The World – 1976
Label: A&M
Produced by: Larry & Fonce Mizell
Vocalist Jeffrey Osborne’s old band. This album was finally released on CD in 1995 and contains the classic "Love Ballad", also done by George Benson in an upbeat version. Also check out the 15 track "best of"-CD "Classics Vol. 27" in the A&M series. This has most of the tracks you need.

Ohio Players: Skin Tight – 1974
Ohio Players: Honey – 1975
Ohio Players: Contradiction – 1976
Ohio Players: Jass-Ay-Lay-Dee – 1978
Label: Mercury
Produced by: Ohio Players
Classic jazz/funk CD’s with the original cover artwork. (For those of you knowing what I’m talking about :-). Excellent sound, even though these 4 OP albums was produced more than 20 years ago. Listen specially to the killer horn arrangements and the drum sound. Featuring the special and easy recognizable singing style by Sugar. This style was also to some extent, done by Michael Cooper of ConFunkShun, Larry Blackmon of Cameo and Larry Dodson of Bar-Keys. There are several not-so-good "best of" CDs available. If you’ve got a surround amplifier with DTS, "Honey" has been remixed in 5.1 DTS sound and it sounds great!

Pockets: Come Go With Us – 1977
Label: Sony Japan – SRCS 6436
Pockets: Take It On Up – 1978
Label: Sony Japan – SRCS 6437
Pockets: So Delicious – 1979
Label: Sony Japan – SRCS 6438
Produced by: Verdine White & Robert Wright
This is as close to EWF you’ll get! Excellent EWF-like production. Specially on the first two releases. Highly recommended! Also available are the "Golden Classics" (Collectables Records 5811) containing most of the tracks from both "Come Go With Us" and "Take It On Up" plus a couple of tracks from from their last release "So Delicious".

Rufus & Chaka Khan: Masterjam – 1979
Label: MCA
Produced by: Quincy Jones
Another Quincy Jones production. Featuring the Seawind Horns together with some the best studio musicians at that time. Be sure to also check out the excellent live album "Stompin’ at the Savoy" from 1982 with 5 studio bonus tracks incl. the classic "Aint’ Nobody". 

Sister Sledge: We Are Family – 1979
Label: Atlantic
Produced by: Bernard Edwards & Nile Rodgers
Classic production and session work by Edwards & Rodgers of Chic. Is this a tight rhythm section, or what?!

Slave: Stellar Fungk – (Best of) – 1994
Label: Atlantic/Rhino
Produced by: Various
15 tracks including 4 solo tracks from Steve Arrington. This one is much better than the "Masters of Fungk" album, which only contains 10 tracks.

Bobby Thurston: You Got What It Takes – 1980
Label: Prelude
Produced by: Willie Lester & Rodney Brown
Classic Prelude sound and production. Maybe a little disco, but the sound is as rich and tight as can be. Also check out another of Prelude’s finest, Sharon Redd.

Trammps: This is Where the Happy People Go (Best of) – 1994
Label: Atlantic/Rhino
Produced by: Ron Baker & Norman Harris
Check out this very good 18 track compilation from the Trammps. Best known for the disco classic "Disco Inferno". These 5 guys were making some excellent dance music years before disco became a dirty word. Their 1976 release "Where the Happy People Go", opened the door for my personal interest in black music. Truly a classic in my book.

Luther Vandross: Never Too Much – 1981
Label: Epic
Produced by: Luther Vandross
Luther’s 3rd and breakthrough album. Quality production featuring Marcus Miller on bass.

Johnny Guitar Watson: Very Best of – 1996
Label: Collectables Records
Produced by:  Johnny Guitar Watson
Johnny Guitar Watson, a multi-talented performer who was one of the hottest blues axemen on the West Coast during the 50’s. He first started out as a piano player, but by 1954, when he dreamed up the absolutely astonishing instrumental "Space Guitar," (not even 17 years old), he had switched to guitar. "Space Guitar" ranks with the greatest achievements of its era, – Watson’s blistering rapid-fire attack, done without the aid of a pick, contained futuristic effects that rock guitarists still hadn’t mastered 15 years later. He totally changed his image to a pimp-styled funkster with the mid 70’s down-and-dirty R&B releases "A Real Mother", "What the Hell is This" and "Ain’t that a Bitch" on DJM Records.

After "Strike on Computers" in 1984, Watson seemed to disappear, but his 1994 album for Bellmark, returned him to prominence and earned him a Grammy nomination for best contemporary blues album, even though its contents were pure old-school funk. Sadly, in the midst of a truly heartwarming comeback tour, Watson passed away while touring Japan in 1996.

Whispers: Headlights – 1978
Label: SOLAR
Produced by: Dick Griffey & The Whispers
Just one of several great albums from this vocal group. Released on CD in 1996. Contains the classic ballad "(Olivia) Lost and Turned Out". Great vocal arrangements and harmony singing. Specially the very smooth voices of brothers Scotty & Walter Scott. Also check out the 12 track "In The Mood" – a "best of ballads" from the Whispers.

Gunnar Homdrum, Oslo, Norway – © 1995-2001