Various Artists

Colours of Funk

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If you're expecting Colours of Funk to be a funk album because of its title, let's start out by making clear that's not the case. Colours of Funk features 17 songs from the archives of Ring Music, a German outfit that created "production music" for the broadcast and film industries; this music was created to serve as background accompaniment for movies, television, and radio, and as such, was never intended to have much of a personality of its own. As a result, while this album is full of Latin percussion accents, wah-wah guitars, smooth jazz horns, and all sorts of vintage keyboards, these tunes stubbornly refuse to get on the good foot, and though it's not inconceivable that some producer could take one of these tracks, throw a drum loop behind it, and create the foundation of a solid hip-hop or electronic track, that doesn't make this music funk any more than a pile of lumber equals a cabin. Still, if you have a taste for vintage bachelor pad sounds of the '70s or the kind of mannered would-be jazz that was the stuff of television theme music in that same decade, much of what's on Colours of Funk will be right up your alley. This music reflects its era perfectly, the arrangements are grandiose but surprisingly light on their feet, and the nameless session players who played this stuff had skill and displayed a surprising enthusiasm for the material. And tunes like "Rock City" and "Explorer" are brimming with a geeky but palpable excitement that may not be funky, but it sure is catchy. Don't pick up Colours of Funk expecting a collection of rare dance grooves, but if you like oddball, not-quite-hip sounds of the '70s, you'll find this worthy of investigation.

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