Calypso King & the Soul Investigators

Soul Strike!

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The first non-vinyl release from New York's mighty, vinyl-only Soul Fire label is actually the third issue from Calypso King & the Soul Investigators. The first was a scorching funk 45 that is not included here and has sold out its press run. While funk has as many schools and persuasions as rock or jazz, this music should be immediately recognizable to anyone whose groove taste runs to the Meters or early-'70s James Brown. All instrumental, the sound is fat, in mono, and greasier than beans and fatback. Driven by a Hammond B-3 and a riff-based lead guitar, both drummer and bassist hold down a smoking, overdriven groove for the front-line instruments to engage in basic, but nonetheless dazzling, chops pyrotechnics. Take "Ma-Gee" for instance: The B-3 is in maximum overload, guitars twin the bassline, and the drummer -- there are no credits given -- plays a second line rhythm crisscrossed with a 12-bar blues. As the organ goes into a meltdown solo away from the riff, the guitar picks it up, grinding, grinding, grinding it down, sharpening it to a fine slash through the rhythm section before taking a minimal solo, and then coming back full-force with the B-3. On "Some Funk," the groove is backbone-slipping in its dark recesses of excessive groovalicious ecstasy. This is the deep nasty, ready for fingerpoppin' mommas and daddies to slip into the middle of the mix and turn the dancefloor out. And it just keeps goin'! There isn't a weak second in 12 tracks! In sum, this may be the finest party record released in the past 20 years. If you're still having trouble deciding if this is for you, try taking Maceo Parker's rhythm section and marrying it to Jack McDuff's organ playing through the Meters' versions of Northern soul and funk jams. Soul Fire is a label worth checking out, with other full-lengths on the way and a 45 rpm series that's to die for. One warning though: Don't play this disc if you're trying to wind everybody down and send them home with a nice groove in their bonnets. This mutha will crank up the bash anew and send bodies flailing onto whatever serves as a dancefloor.

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