GO GO GET DOWN-COMPILED BY JOEY NEGRO.
GO GO GET DOWN-COMPILED BY JOEY NEGRO.
Usually, at this time of year, the compilation market is at its most buoyant, with record labels releasing some of their best compilations of the year. This year things have been unusually quiet, with quality compilations being the exception rather than the rule. Apart from a few independent labels, who consistently release quality innovative and interesting compilations, the compilations market is something of a cultural desert. For me, this has been hugely disappointing. Part of the problem is major labels who have access to some fantastic back-catalogues available, seem to ignore compilations, meaning we’re denied access to some music that deserves a wider audience. Instead, major labels prefer to release albums by the “usual suspects.” By the usual suspects, I mean all those washed up sixties and seventies acts whose music seems to be released every other year. Sadly, record labels release this music to a salivating, sniveling mainstream music press, who trot out yet another fawning article about these releases. With major labels ignoring the quality compilation market there missing commercial opportunities. For example, I’ve been looking for a decent Go Go compilation, but never could find one. After the recent death of the Godfather of Go Go, Chuck Brown in May 2012, and a resurgence of interest in Go Go afterwards, I’d have thought there would be a market for a quality Go Go compilation? Sadly, that wasn’t the case. Then a couple of weeks ago, I came across Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro, double-album featuring twenty-four tracks. Was my search for a quality go go compilation over? That’s what I’ll tell you, when I tell you about the highlights of Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro.
Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro is a double album featuring twenty-four tracks. This compilation was compiled by Joey Negro, and was released by ZR Records on 30th July 2012. The compilation features lengthy and detailed sleeve-notes from Sean P, whose an authority on Go Go. Given Sean P has been a collector and connoisseur of Go Go since 1981, he’s well qualified to comment. My only problem with the sleeve-notes were they weren’t in chronological order and the track-listings weren’t particularly detailed. It would’ve been helpful to know what label released each track and when.
Many of the tracks on Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro are extremely rare tracks, released on small local labels. They’ve been long-forgotten by all but the most diehard collectors and of course, those who released the tracks. While many of the tracks are little known gems, there’s a track from the Godfather of Go Go, Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers, Back It On Up. Given his untimely death in May 2012, and that he coined the term Go Go, this is a fitting tribute to a hugely talented musician, who sadly, doesn’t get the credit he deserves. However, there’s much more to Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro than just that one track by Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers, as you’ll realize when I tell you about the music on Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro.
Disc One of Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro has twelve tracks, from artists that include Little Benny and The Masters, Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers, Donald Banks, Osiris, Familiar Faces, The Backlash and Jackie Boy & Natures Creation. These include tracks from little known artists, released on small regional labels that weren’t huge commercial successes, but found a small loyal following. Since their release, these releases have become extremely collectable and as a result, extremely valuable. Sourcing these tracks has been something of a labor or love for Joey Negro, and to save fans of Go Go the time and expense of finding these tracks, has collected them on Disc One of Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro. However, what will be the highlights of Disc One of Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro?
Little Benny & The Masters released Who Comes To Boogie in 1985 on the Jem-Rose label. When the track reached number thirty-five in the US R&B Charts in February 1985, Elektra picked the track up. With a new remix, the tracks was released nationwide. Who Comes To Boogie is the perfect track to open the compilation, with punchy, growling horns, a pounding rhythm section and percussion accompanying Anthony “Little Benny” Harley’s rapped vocal. Bursts of synths and tight, sweeping backing vocalists accompany the vocal, while some glorious horns and a punchy rhythm section are at the heart of the track’s sound and success. They play their part in making this one of the real highlights of Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro, by a long chalk.
It would almost be remiss of me not to mention Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers’ Back It Up, released in 1982 on the Featherbed label. Chuck later recorded the tracks Sho’ Yuh Right (Back-It On Up) in 1985. For anyone wanting to hear the Godfather of Go Go Chuck Brown, then this tough, tantalizing funky track is a good place to start. With The Soul Searchers producing a uber-funky backdrop, Chuck is like a joyous cheerleader, driving the track along. His vocal style is reminiscent of James Brown, the Godfather of Funk. Meanwhile swathes of synths and handclaps accompany the funky-laden rhythm section, percussion and blazing horns. Backing vocalists respond to Chuck’s call, as the James Brown influence increases. While both men were Godfathers of their chosen genres, they both released some gloriously funky music..and then some.
Rare Essence released Body Moves, their debut single in 1981 on Groove Records. The tracks was produced by none other than Chuck Brown and recorded at Philadelphia’s Sigma Sound Studios, where all the Gamble and Huff, Thom Bell and Salsoul albums were recorded. Drums pound while percussion, crashing cymbals and synths combine. Slowly, the track reveals its secrets, when synths and a pulsating bass line join the mix. The vocal is delivered urgently, as elements of seventies soul and funk is combined witg early eighties synth and rap. There’s everything you could want on a Go Go track and more. Rasping horns, handclaps, a tight, funky rhythm section, keyboards and of course the vocal. They all play their part in making this an irresistible sounding track.
Jackie Boy and Natures Creation Dab Wet’s This Groove Is Made For Funkin’ is my final choice from Disc One. This near nine-minute epic was hidden away on the B-side of Freak Unique, a single they released on Washington’s Capitol Hill Records. Joey Negro deserves credit for unearthing this gem of a track. It’s a track that represents everything that’s good about Go Go. Just synths and the rhythm section that accompany the bravado-laden introduction. Bursts of growling horns and backing vocalists accompany Jackie Boy’s sassy vocal. This track demonstrates how to use synths successfully in a track like this. They’re key to the sound, along with frenzied horns, backing vocals and of course Jackie Boy’s vampish vocal. For nearly nine majestic minutes, you’re transported back to early eighties Washington, when Go Go was King.
Although I’ve only mentioned four of the tracks from Disc One of Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro, there’s much more to Disc One than four tracks. Tracks like Donald Banks’ Status Quo, Expression’s Release Disco, Static Disruptors’ DC Groove and Am-FM’s You Are The One deserve mentioning. Each of these tracks are good examples of Go Go in its various guises. When you hear some of the tracks on Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro, you wonder why they never found a much wider audience? Two tracks in particular, Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers’ Back It Up and Jackie Boy and Natures Creation Dab Wet’s This Groove Is Made For Funkin’ prove this point. Considerin Jackie Boy and Natures Creation Dab Wet’s This Groove Is Made For Funkin’ was only a B-side, you wonder what the A-side was like, given how good the B-side is? Only two tracks on Disc One disappointed, EU’s Rock Yer Butt and Osris’ War (On The Bull Shit). To me, they lacked the quality of the other tracks on Disc One. However, most of the music on Disc One of Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro are good examples of Go Go, will that be the case on Disc Two?
On Disc Two of Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro there are another twelve tracks unearthed by Joey. This includes tracks from Davis Pinckney Project, Trouble Funk, Code Red, Class Band, The Soul Searchers, CJ’s Uptown Crew and Jim Bennett & His Bumpin’ Crew. My only quibble about Disc Two is the inclusion of two more tracks from EU. Surely given how many other artists could’ve been included, and whose music have found a wider audience, was it really necessary to include three tracks from the same artist? Like the twelve tracks on Disc One, many of these tracks are really rare and would cost you a King’s fortune to buy, even it was possible to find them. Having said that these tracks are rare, sometimes, rarity doesn’t equate to quality. So, will rarity equate to quality on Disc Two of Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro?
Trouble Funk were a Washington Go Go group who released four studio albums during the eighties. They’re one of the most successful groups on the compilation, who built up a loyal following in both the US and UK. Get Down With Your Get Down is the perfect introduction to their music. The track has a tough, funky sound thanks to the rhythm section, swathes of eighties synths and percussion. Like other tracks, the vocal is delivered in an aggressive, rapped style. This contrasts with the melodic, hugely funky backdrop from what are a talented group of musicians. You only need to listen to the track once to realize that, especially Trouble Funk’s rhythm section and guitars. As a result, this is one of the highlights of Disc Two and a perfect example of Washington Go Go.
Anyone who likes Cameo, especially their early music will be drawn to Code Red’s Virginia Gone Go-Go. If you think of Cameo’s 1978 hit Insane, then you get the picture. The track literally bursts into life, with a myriad of percussion, keyboards, and growling horns combining, with punchy backing vocalists. Straight away, you realize that these are seriously talented musicians, as they combine elements of jazz, funk and soul. Later, you hear one of the best bass lines on the whole compilation, plucked and slapped, and playing a part on my favorite track on Disc Two. This is another of these tracks that makes you wonder why a group as talented as Code Red never made a commercial breakthrough?
CJ’s Uptown Crew reveal a quite different sound on Satisfaction Guaranteed. Their music lacks the aggression of other tracks on Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro. Like Code Red, CJ’s Uptown Crew demonstrate a really talented group of musicians, capable of producing a slick, polished fusion of elements of jazz, funk and soul. Blazing horns open the track, while percussion and section rhythm combine with CJ’s vocal. Quickly, a really melodic, hook-laden track unfolds. Key to this are the vocal, punchy horns and rhythm section that provides the track’s heartbeat. It’s quite unlike other tracks on the compilation, and might not suit Go Go purists, but I love this track, so much that it’s six of the best minutes of Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro.
The last track I’ve chosen from Disc Two of Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro is Bump and Roll (Give Up The Funk) by Jim Bennett and His Bumpin’ Crew. This has a much tougher, edgier sound to tracks like Code Red and CJ’s Uptown Crew. Released in 1987, it’s sound is more for Go Go purists than these two tracks. With its aggressive, rapped vocal, banks of synths and pounding rhythm section, it’s a track that you could only date to the eighties. There’s a hip hop influence to the track, especially with the vocal. I really like the slapped bass line and some of the synths on the track, and they play their part in making this a catchy, memorable track.
While I’ve only mentioned four the twelve tracks on Disc Two of Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro, these four tracks demonstrate just how rich and varied Go Go’s history is. Different types of music are referred to as Go Go and the tracks by Trouble Funk, Code Red, CJ’s Uptown Crew and Jim Bennett and His Bumpin’ Crew show the different sides to Go Go. There’s more to Disc Two than a mere four tracks, with several other tracks deserving a mention. This includes The Soul Searchers’ brilliant Boogie Up The Nation and Class Band’s horn driven Welcome To The Go-Go. Like Disc One, a couple of tracks let Disc Two down. Ovation’s Boogie Groove (You Got To Do It) is one of the rarest tracks on Go Get Down Compiled By Joey Negro, but sadly here, rarity doesn’t equate with quality. Sadly, Dr Skunk Funk’s Skunk Funk Go-Go which is the newest track on the compilation disappoints too. Released in 2004, the track sounds like a Go Go tribute act. It just isn’t as good as many of the other tracks and is disappointing way to close Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro. My only other quibble was why include two further tracks by EU feature on Disc Two? Apart from this, Disc Two of Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro contains an eclectic selection of music, all of which is referred to as Go Go.
Reading the sleeve-notes to Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro, this compilation was very much a labor of love for Joey Negro. He deserves credit for showcasing such a wide spectrum of artists who played their part in Go Go’s rich and eclectic history. For too long, Go Go has been an overlooked genre of music, ignored by record companies big and small. Thankfully, Joey Negro’s rectified this with a quality compilation of Go Go, Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro. While the definitive Go Go compilation has still to be released, this compilation will suffice until then. Of the twenty-four tracks on Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro, I’d say that eighteen of the tracks really work. That’s a pretty good average, and for anyone looking for an introduction to Go Go, then Go Go Get Down-Compiled By Joey Negro is a good place to start and will introduce you to some of Go Go royalty. Standout Tracks: Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers Back It Up, Rare Essence Body Moves, Code Red Virginia Gone Go-Go and CJ’s Uptown Crew Satisfaction Guaranteed.
GO GO GET DOWN-COMPILED BY JOEY NEGRO.