STRANGE BREAKS AND MR. THING III.
STRANGE BREAKS AND MR. THING III.
One of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed compilation series makes a welcome return on 19th May 2014. That’s Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III. It’s been a long time coming. Five years in fact. So, after a five year back, Mr. Thing makes a very welcome return with Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III, which is the result of five years of crate digging.
Mr Thing. is without doubt, one of the most passionate and persistent crate-diggers, when it comes to unearthing hidden gems. No stone is left unturned in his search for elusive hidden gems. Quite simply, Mr. Thing digs where other crate diggers fear to dig. Whether it’s dusty basements, thrift stores, warehouses or record shops, nowhere is off limits. As a result, Mr. Thing’s choice of music is truly eclectic. That’s reflected on Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III.
Rather than focus on one genre of music, Mr. Thing casts his net wider than other crate diggers. His eclectic and discerning musical taste is reflected on Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III. It features fifteen slices of funk, jazz and soul from Mr. Thing’s legendary record collection. It’s a tantalising glimpse of what is a musical treasure trove. Just like previous instalments in the series, familiar faces sit side-by-side with hidden gems, killer cuts and rarities on Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III, which is a double album.
Disc One of Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III is a fifteen track DJ mix from Mr. Thing, who has been DJ-ing since 1987. Since then, Mr. Thing’s name has been synonymous with him. He’s a turntabilist’s turntabilist. Quite simply, Mr. Thing is one of the top hip DJs in Britain. That’s why he spends much of his time touring the world showcasing his finely honed skills. One listen to Mr. Thing’s DJ mix and you’ll realise his mixing skills are flawless. Then on disc two, Mr. Thing chooses nineteen slices of soulful, funky and jazzy music.
Among the nineteen artists on disc two of Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III, you’re introduced to familiar faces sit side-by-side with hidden gems, killer cuts and rarities. This includes Dynamic Concept, Disco Orchestral, Woolwich Polytechnic School Concert Band, Chuck Jackson, Sharon Cash, Harry Beckett and Zulema. With its combination of funk, jazz and soul, choosing the highlights of Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III isn’t going to be easy.
Opening Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III is Disco Orchestral’s Do It Again. This is a track from Disco Orchestral’s only album Soupa Disco Sounds. It was produced by Tony Palmer. Released in 1976, on DJM Records, this twelve track album was described as “12 Favourite Varieties.” After it’s sassy intro, Do It Again unfolds. It’s best described as a fusion fusion of laid back funk, sassy, seductive soul and rocky guitars. A glorious melange of musical genres, Do It Again whets your appetite for the rest of Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III.
Dum-Dum’s At The Grass has a dramatic, funky cinematic sound. It’s was taken from Dum-Dum’s 1972 album Dum-Dum. Released in 1972, this was their only album. It’s a real rarity. Copies of this album change hands for $200. No wonder. The music oozes quality. Funk and jazz is seamlessly combined by Dum-Dum to create moody, dramatic cinematic sound. This is reminiscent of the type of track you’d hear in early seventies low budget movie.
John Fitch and Associates released Romantic Attitude as a single in 1969. It was released on Beacon Records and is another rarity. It’s a captivating track. For much of the arrangement, it’s wistful and atmospheric. Then later, the scorching guitars take the track in the direction of psychedelic rock. One thing never changes, John’s vocal, which is a cathartic outpouring of hurt and heartbreak.
Soulful, funky and full of frustration and anger describes The Internationals’ Give A Damn. Released in 1969, on D’ar Recording Co. Inc, Give A Damn was penned by Richard Poindexter with his brother Robert and Jackie Members. They later wrote The Persuaders’ Thin Line Between Love and Hate. This is very different. It’s full of social comment, and features a vocal that’s impassioned, angry and frustrated. The result is a powerful comment on late sixties America.
New Jersey funk group Nu-Sound Express, Ltd, only released two singles. Their debut singls was One More Time Y’all. It was released in 1970, on Silver Dollar Records, it was written and arranged by Paul Kyser. It’s an uber funky slab of early seventies good time funk, with a jazzy twist. This is a welcome addition to Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III, from Nu-Sound Express, Ltd, who’d later evolve into Rhyze and release two albums in the early eighties.
From the get-go, you realise that Dynamic Concept’s La Da Da is something special. Mind you, what would expect from what was essentially Edwin Starr’s backing band. In 1974 Dynamic Concept had released their debut single California. It wasn’t a commercial success. Neither was La Da Da, which was released on H.B. Barnum’s London-based Power Exchange Records & Tapes label. H.B. Barnum wrote, arranged and produced this funky hidden gem. Sadly, La Da Da proved to Dynamic Concept’s final single.
Asmral’s Trinidad Cavaliers released seven albums on Canadian label Calypan. Their penultimate album was Heat, which was released in 1975. Heat is a much prized album among record collectors and sample hungry producers. One of Heat’s highlights is the hypnotically funky hidden gem It Sure Is Funky. It’s a tantalising taste of Asmral’s Trinidad Cavaliers’ genre-melting music.
James Asher’s Oriental Workload featured on the 1979 album Action Disco, which is a really rare album. It was released on the Studio G label and featured tracks by James Asher, Pete Willsher and T. Kelly. It has a moody, lysergic, psychedelic and ambient sound. Full of subtleties and nuances, this is one of my favourite tracks from Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III.
Without doubt, one of the most left-field and surprising choices on Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III is Özel Türkbas’ Özel´s Dance Music. It’s a track from the 1972 album How To Make Your Husband A Sultan-Belly Dance With Özel Türkbaş. This track is a real discovery and is testament to Mr. Thing’s crate digging skills. It’s one of these albums that most people would walk past. Not Mr. Thing. He must have realised that there were breaks and samples awaiting discovery within the album. That was the case. Here, Mr. Thing has edited the track. As a result, its hypnotic and funky Eastern sound, it’s akin to a call to dance.
Zulema’s Giving Up is a track from her 1973 sophomore album Ms. Z. It was released on Sussex Records. After that, Zulema Cusseaux, soul, funk, disco and boogie singer and songwriter signed to RCA Victor. Giving Up shows why RCA Victor signed Zulema. She delivers a heartfelt, soulful vocal. She’s accompanied by backing vocalists, swathes of strings and an all-star band of top session players. They fuse soul, funk and disco strings to create the perfect backdrop for Zulema’s vocal.
Harry Beckett’s Ring Within Rings is a track from his 1975 album Joy Unlimited. This was Harry’s third album and was released on Cadillac Records. He was one of Britain’s top jazz musicians, who played trumpet and flugelhorn. During his career, he played with some of the legends of British and American jazz, induing Stan Tracey and Charles Mingus. Ring Within Rings sees Harry and his band veer between jazz and fusion. During this six minute epic, Harry unleashes a barnstorming solo that showcases his indisputable talent.
Not much is known about Smiling Hard. This is the case with their only single Fire To The Galleon. It was released on the Survival label and was produced by Steve Royal and Don White. What I do know, is that it’s a quality track. Funk, jazz and pop are combined by Smiling Hard. So are hooks during this mysterious slice of music.
When I heard The Woolwich Polytechnic School Concert Band’s version of The Sweeney, memories came flooding back. After all, The Sweeney was and still is, a favourite television program among people of my age. Back then, The Sweeney were the good guys, who lived hard, spun drums, chased villains and always enjoyed a punch up before the titles rolled. The Woolwich Polytechnic School Concert Band’s take on The Sweeney is from their 1981 album Poly Music. Released on the Tam Studio label, it’s a much more thoughtful version of a classic television theme.
The Caprellls with The Sul Brothers Band released Close Your Eyes in 1975. They’d been around since 1972, when they released their debut single Deep Love on Band. On 1975, they released two further singles, Dotty’s Party and Close Your Eyes, a soulful, funky track with a summery vibe.
Closing Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III is Sharon Nash’s Nature Boy. It’s a track from Sharon’s 1970 album He Lives Within My Soul. It was released on Jay Ward’s Los Angeles independent label, Mothers Records and The Snarf Company. Produced by H.B. Barnum, Nature Boy features a slow, impassioned and soulful vocal. Later, the arrangement and Sharon’s vocal grows in power, becoming powerful vamp as the track reaches a dramatic, soulful crescendo.
After a five year break, Mr. Thing makes a welcome return with the latest in Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing series, Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III. Mr. Thing has picked up where he left off on the previous volume, combining funk, jazz and soul. To that, there’s even disco strings, rocky guitars and a touch of psychedelia. That’s why the best way to describe Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III is eclectic. Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III is also a compilation that oozes quality.
It’s a case of sitting back and enjoying the music on Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III. Not once do are you tempted to press next. Instead, Mr. Thing has you captivated. You wonder where he’s taking you now, on what’s akin to a musical journey. This is Mr. Thing’s take on the Magical Mystery Tour. Mr. Thing doesn’t disappoint during this double album. Far from it. That’s testament to Mr. Thing’s crate-digging skills.
During the truly eclectic compilation, Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III, hidden gems and musical nuggets are discovered. Mr. Thing it seems, has been digging deep, deeper than he’s dug before. That’s why he’s surpassed his previous efforts. To do this, he’s combined numerous musical genres and influences. Mr. Thing mixes funk, fusion, jazz, pop, psychedelia, rock and soul. All this is thrown into Mr. Thing’s musical melting pot. What comes out is a mesmeric fusion that captivates and compels. You’re taken on the musical journey that’s Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III which will be released by BBE Music on 19th May 2014.
During this journey that’s Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III. the music veers between dramatic, dreamy, and trippy, to beautiful, understated and melancholy. Other times the music is moody and broody. On other tracks, the music is sassy and seductive. One thing the music never is, is boring. Not at all. Certainly not when Mr. Thing is in charge of the music. Subtleties and surprises are sprung. Mr. Thing isn’t afraid of changing direction. Using the musical equivalent of a handbrake turn, he performs a volte face. That’s what makes Strange Breaks and Mr. Thing III such a captivating and refreshing compilation that belongs in everyone’s record collection.
STRANGE BREAKS AND MR. THING III.