Over the many years I’ve been collecting first vinyl, even tapes and now CDs, I’ve lost count of the number of compilation albums I’ve bought. I won’t admit to what the total must be, all I’ll say is that it’s into four figures, so you can speculate to your hearts content. These albums fall broadly into three categories the good, the average and totally forgettable. Occasionally, I’ve been forced to add a fourth category, the unmissable, must have compilation. This rarity, is a compilation that features one great track after another. This is real rarity and very few compilations fall into this category. However, last year, in March 2011, BGP, one of the Ace Records’ labels released an album that deserves entry into this exclusive club, Shattered Dreams-Funky Blues 1967-1978. Since I got this compilation, I’ve played it so often that I’ve almost worn away the disc. Of the twenty-one tracks on the album there’s neither any filler nor poor tracks, just some stunning slices of funky blues.

The music on Shattered Dreams-Funky Blues 1967-1978 comes from a time when soul music became the most popular music in black America, with blues music, previously the most popular music sidelined. By the late sixties, many blues musicians were struggling to make a living, and were finding it tough to adapt to the changes in musical tastes. While soul singers and rock groups played huge venues, blues players were relegated to playing some of the many smaller, run-down clubs that could be found in every part of America. Many of these musicians raised on the blues, stubbornly refused to change their style of music. However, they had to adapt to survive, so many of them started throwing in some funky licks and soulful hollers and screams into their music. This became hugely popular with their audiences, and since then, with crate diggers and collectors of funk music. So, to save you the time and expense of searching out these hidden gems of funky blues, BGP have saved you the time and expense, collecting twenty-one of these masterpieces onto one disc, Shattered Dreams-Funky Blues 1967-1978. 

Of the twenty-one tracks that can be found onShattered Dreams-Funky Blues 1967-1978, many of the names will be familiar to even the casual lover of blues music. Lowell Fulson, Albert King, Buddy Guy and The Johnny Otis Show are some of the better known artists, while some people will be familiar with the music of Smokey Wilson and Freddie Robinson. If you’re not, then after hearing this compilation you will be, and I can assure you that you’ll want to hear much more of their magical music. These are just a few of the artists that feature on this stunning compilation.

On the album, are tracks drawn from some stellar and well known labels including Stax, Jotis and Modern. Now, many people may not be aware that Stax released some quality blues music, including releases by Albert King, Little Milton and Little Sonny. Al Bell at Stax had ensured that Stax had a variety of artists over the range of musical genres, so that all tastes were catered for. It was his idea to sign blues artists like Albert King who contributes the excellent Playing On Me, the B-side of his 1973 single The High Cost of Living. It’s a moody sounding track where a Hammond organ, chiming guitars braying horns come together with Albert’s frustrated vocal, which features hollers and whoops. The other Stax artist who features on the compilation is Little Milton, with a track that was a single released in 1971, That’s What Love Will Make You Do which features searing guitars, blazing horns and throaty vocal from Little Milton on a track that brilliantly combines elements of funk and the blues.

Some artists contribute more than one track, with Lowell Fulson contributing a duo of tracks, Mellow Together and Welcome Home. Mellow Together was the B-side of a 1968 single Blues Pain. Mellow Together was previously unreleased, until they released the track on a compilation of Lowell’s entitled Black Nights: The Early Kent Sessions. Although both are quality tracks, the driving Mellow Together is the best of the duo. Full of energy with guitars and horns combining with Lowell’s thoughtful vocal. These two tracks give the listener a taster of Lowell Fulson’s music, music which is just waiting to be discovered.

Like Lowell Fulson, The Johnny Otis Show contribute two tracks. The first is Country Girl, a 1969 single released on Kent, while the other track has never previously been released, Comin’ At Ya Baby Pt. 2. Of these two tracks, Comin’ At Ya Baby Pt. 2 is a fantastically funky, slice of the blues, with harmonica and horns featuring throughout. 

Another artist who has two tracks on the album is Smokey Wilson, whose music many people won’t be familiar with. That’s more the pity, as he’s a versatile and talented musician. These two tracks are quite different with You Shattered My Dreams, a single on Big Town from 1978, that’s a slow, sultry horn heavy track with chiming guitars accompanying the saddest of vocals from Smokey. His other contribution High Time has never been released and is quite different. It’s a good-time slice of funk drenched blues that’s hugely catchy. If you’ve never heard of Smokey Wilson, then an album like this gives you the opportunity to discover and acquaint yourself with some artists who you’re unfamiliar with. This can lead to a journey of discovery of much more, magical music.

Similar to Smokey Wilson, many people will never have heard of Finis Tasby. That is until now. He too, contributes a duo of tracks It Took A Long Time, a 1977 track that’s never been released before. Neither has his other contribution Cloudy Day, also recorded in 1977. It Took A Long Time is a seriously funky bluesy number with a Hammond organ and the rhythm section driving the track along, while Finis’ vocal is full of emotion. Cloudy Day has a much more traditional blues sound, but still has a funky side. I love arrangement, especially the harmonica that punctuates the track, and wonder why it took thirty-four years to release this track? One wonders what other goodies are just waiting to be unearthed?

My two final picks from Shattered Dreams-Funky Blues 1967-1978 are Icewater Slim’s funk laden Your Love Is Good Enough, which features wah-wah guitars and a powerful vocal. This track was the B-side to his 1974 single the amazingly titled Supersonic Megatonic Flash on Hawk Sound Records. The last track I’ll mention is from a veteran blues musician Buddy Guy, entitled I’m Not the Best, which was the B-side of his single Fever. It’s a live track which gives the flavor of the kind of clubs he was playing during this period. After whipping the crowd into a frenzy, Buddy and his band deliver a stunning blues track, complete with searing, soaring guitars, blazing horns and handclaps provided by the audience. Add to this Buddy’s roaring, passionate vocal and this is just a fantastic track, which is just another reason to buy the compilation.

So, now I’ve told you about some of twenty-one tracks onShattered Dreams-Funky Blues 1967-1978, what was in my opinion one of the best compilations of 2011 you’ll be maybe still be wondering why should I buy this album? Well, if like me you enjoy both blues and funk music, and would enjoy hearing both genres combined then this is well worth buying. To me, part of the fun of buying these compilations is discovering music from artists I’ve never heard before, or tracks from familiar artists that are new to me. For example, I’ve heard many a track by The Johnny Otis Show, and Buddy Guy, but never heard two of the tracks that feature here. If you’re anything like me, you’ll get a real kick out of finding a brilliant new track, and it often leads you on a voyage of discover. You find yourselves buying albums by an artists you’ve never heard before, and quickly, you realize you’ve bought most of their back catalogue. That’s part of what I love about music, constantly discovering old music, music that’s often gone unnoticed and has long been forgotten about. Much of the music on Shattered Dreams-Funky Blues 1967-1978 falls into that category. Compiler Dean Rudland deserves credit for rediscovering, and almost rescuing this music from the dusty vaults of the various record companies and sharing it with us. This gives us the opportunity to wallow in the hidden gems and familiar faces that feature on the this excellent compilation. If you like blues and funk music, then you’ll love the music on Shattered Dreams-Funky Blues 1967-1978 which to me, is one of the best compilations of 2011.


Shattered Dreams - Funky Blues 1967-78

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