DJ Spinna

Strange Games and Funky Things, Vol. 5

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AllMusic Review by

First, an attempt to clarify the unintended (?) titling confusion in BBE’s Strange Games series. Strange Games and Things, assembled by the label’s Peter Adarkwah, was released in 1997. The following year, there was Strange Games and Funky Things, another disc curated by Adarkwah. Released in 2001, the triple-disc Strange Games and Things bundled the first two discs and added a mix of those tracks from DJ Spinna. Kenny Dope then presented Strange Games and Funky Things, Vol. 3 in 2003. Adarkwah assembled Strange Funky Games and Things a couple years later. And this, released in 2010, is Strange Games and Funky Things, Vol. 5. Spinna, Adarkwah, and Jonathan Rau compiled this particular volume. Spinna supplies a 78-minute, 21-track mix, while 16 of the tracks are provided in unmixed form on a second disc. As is the case with the rest of the series, most of the material will not be familiar to those outside the small circle of expert crate-diggers and fiends of likeminded compilation series (Harmless' Life: Styles, for instance). The most popular of the lot here is likely the Soul Searchers' “Ashley’s Roachclip,” if only through its break, heard in dozens of rap, R&B, and dance songs, from “Paid in Full” to “Girl You Know It’s True.” Wood, Brass & Steel, anchored by Doug Wimbish and Skip McDonald (future members of the Sugar Hill label house band), was one of several acts to reinterpret Ronnie Laws' jazz-funk classic “Always There”; those who grew up in and around Detroit during the ‘80s might recognize its geeky intro as the theme for the children’s science program Kidbits. “Get It Up for Love” appears in its breezy folk-soul-rock original form, recorded by Ned Doheny; Tata Vega retooled the song for dancefloors in 1979, when it appeared on Motown. (In 1981, Chaka Khan did something similar with Doheny’s “What Cha Gonna Do for Me.”) Sylvia Saint James' soaring and mystical “Motherland,” co-written by Lenny White, shares thematic and sonic qualities with the Jones Girls' “Nights Over Egypt” (not to mention a year of release, 1980). Other highlights come from Chicago soul legend Richard Evans, whose whirlwind, Linda Williams-led “Capricorn Rising” (also heard on 4hero’s Life: Styles) is florid Latin jazz-funk in the best possible way, and Family Tree, whose “Family Tree” features Sharon Brown in mid-‘70s form. Spinna’s mixing is just fine, as usual, emphasizing the songs over showmanship.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
feat: Ned Doheny
3:02
2
3:04
3 2:59
4 2:09
5
feat: Starvue
2:54
6 4:18
7 6:21
8
3:09
9
feat: Eddy Senay
4:31
10 3:35
11
feat: Cal Tjader
3:02
12
3:12
13 4:13
14
feat: Family Tree
3:54
15 5:06
16
feat: War
5:01
17 3:38
18
4:44
19
3:43
20 3:02
21
feat: Bill Summers
2:35
blue highlight denotes track pick