WHEEDLE’S GOOVE-SEATTLE FUNK, MODERN SOUL AND BOOGIE: VOLUME 2 1972-1987.

WHEEDLE’S GOOVE-SEATTLE FUNK, MODERN SOUL AND BOOGIE: VOLUME 2 1972-1987.

It’s hard to believe that ten years have passed since Light In The Attic Records released the first volume of their Wheedle’s Groove compilation series. Wheedle’s Groove was the first compilation to focus on Seattle’s soul scene between 1965 and 1975. Released to critical acclaim in 2004, Light In The Attic Records had struck gold with Wheedle’s Groove. Hidden gems, rarities and lost classics sat side-by-side on Wheedle’s Groove. Music lovers heard a different side to Seattle’s music scene. 

For many people, Seattle was synonymous with grunge. Seattle was the city that brought the world groups like Alice In Chains, Mudhoney, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. Later, Seattle brought us the post-grunge of The Lemons and the indie folk of Fleet Foxes. However, not many people had heard the soulful and funky sound of Seattle. That’s until the heard Wheedle’s Groove.

The cat was out of the back. Suddenly, Seattle’s best kept secret was common knowledge. Music lovers worldwide had, at last, heard the delights of groups like The Topics, Soul Swingers, Cookin’ Bag, Broham, The Johnny Lewis Trio, Ron Buford and Black On White Affair. So popular was Wheedle’s Groove that a film was made about Seattle’s soul scene.

That was four years later in 2008. Wheedle’s Groove: Seattle’s Forgotten Soul Of the 1960s and 70s was released to the same critical acclaim as Wheedle’s Groove. It went on to win awards. Wheedle’s Groove: Seattle’s Forgotten Soul Of the 1960s and 70s was one of the finest musical documentaries of recent years. After the release of Wheedle’s Groove: Seattle’s Forgotten Soul Of the 1960s and 70s, there was still no sign of another instalment in the Wheedle’s Groove series. 

Everyone who’d bought Wheedle’s Groove waited with baited breath for the followup. Years passed and there was no sign of Wheedle’s Groove Volume 2. However, the wait is nearly over. Light In The Attic Records will release Wheedle’s Groove-Seattle Funk, Modern Soul and Boogie: Volume 2 1972-1987 on 16th June 2014. 

Wheedle’s Groove-Seattle Funk, Modern Soul and Boogie: Volume 2 1972-1987 features another eighteen tracks of funky, soulful and dance-floor friendly music from Seattle. This includes contributions from Epicentre, Priceless, Don Brown, Deuece, Push, Seattle Pure Dynomite, Romel Westwood, Steppen Stones, Steppen Stones and Robbie Hill’s Family Affair. These tracks were released between 1972 and 1987, when music was changing.

Back then, both music and society was changing. Technology was affecting the way music was made. Drum machines, samplers and sequencers meant music could be made much more cheaply. They were within the budget of aspiring musicians and producers, and they were able to record their own single and release it on their own labels. These singles were sent to local DJs. This didn’t just include radio DJs.

By the mid to late seventies, artists were making music specifically for the dance-floor. No longer did a generation want to form a band and spend years honing their sound in local clubs. Instead, they wanted the instant gratification of having their record played in local clubs. Sometimes, local radio would pick up on the track. This was a lot easier than being in a band and spending years trying to make a commercial breakthrough. However, not every artists was willing to settle for instant gratification.

Instead, they wanted the longevity that traditionally, an artist or band had enjoyed.   They spent years honing their sound and learning their “trade.” Eventually, when the time was right, they proudly released a single. For many an artist, this was the biggest day of their musical career. This was the case all over Seattle.

Across Seattle, artists and bands released singles. Many were released on private labels. They were self-financed and released on local labels. Other tracks were released on bigger labels. However, they failed to make the commercial breakthrough their quality deserved. Since then, these singles have been forgotten about. They’re remembered fondly only by the artists that released them and a small group of musical connoisseurs. This includes Seattle’s DJ Supreme La Rock, who compiled Wheedle’s Groove-Seattle Funk, Modern Soul and Boogie: Volume 2 1972-1987, which I’ll pick the highlights of.

The most important track on any compilation is the first track. DJ Supreme La Rock realises this and opens Wheedle’s Groove-Seattle Funk, Modern Soul and Boogie: Volume 2 1972-1987 with Epicentre’s Get Off The Phone. It featured on a 1978 compilation KYYX•FM Seattle Grown. The compilation was released to showcase Seattle’s eclectic musical talent. Epicentre combine Modern Soul with funk on Get Off The Phone. Written by lead vocalists Stacy Christenson, it’s a track that’s got everything. It’s funky, soulful, dance-floor friendly and full of slick poppy hooks.

Don Brown released his Shut The Door E.P. in 1978. It was released on the First American label and featured Don’t Lose Your Love, It’s best described as a blue-eyed soul with disco strings and a hint of boogie. Featuring a soulful, heartfelt vocal from Don this is a real hidden gem, which sometimes, reminds me of Hall and Oates. Just like Epicentre’s Get Off The Phone, Don’t Shut The Door E.P. is a real rarity. 

Push only ever released one single. However, what a single You Turn Me On was. Released on the Sound of Seattle label in 1978, You Turn Me On was penned by “Big Joe” Erickson. It’s a slice of dance-floor friendly Modern Soul. Jazz-tinged and with a funky side, You Turn Me On is a joyous dance track. Accompanied by sultry horns, harmonies and keyboards Joe, a joyful, vampish vocal. The result is a track that deserved to fare better than it did. Having said that, it’s a cult classic amongst Seattle soul fans.

Priceless are another group that only released one single. This was Look At Me. It  was recorded at Studio One, in Seattle and released on Decimal Records. Written by Jackie Stoudemire, this another laid-back slice of soulful music. Lush strings, harmonies, percussion and a jazz-tinged guitar augment the impassioned vocal. All this results in a smooth slice of dance-floor friendly soul.

By the time Lenny Randle and Ballplayers released Kingdome as a single in 1982, music was changing. Disco had died in 1979. Gone were lush strings and horns. Replacing disco was boogie and hip hop. These singles were recorded on lower budgets. Aspiring musician made good use of drum machines, samplers and sequencers. This allowed aspiring musicians to record their own music, which they then released on their own labels. Many a boogie or hip hop single was recorded and released this way. This included Lenny Randle and Ballplayers, who released Kingdome on their Ballplayers label. It’s a fusion of funk, rock, boogie and hip hop. There’s even a nod to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five on Kingdome, a groundbreaking track which shows the changing face of Seattle’s music scene in 1982. 

Teleclere released Steal their debut single Fantasy Love in 1982. A year later, they returned with their debut album Affection/Defection. Just like Fantasy Love, it was released on Telemusic Productions. One of the tracks from Affection/Defection was Your Love. It shows the changing face of music. Hugely soulful, thanks to a heartfelt powerhouse of a lead vocal, the arrangement is quite different. Funk and electro combined and provide the backdrop for a vocal that’s an outpouring of emotion and hurt. DJ Supreme La Rock has dug deep to discover this rarity.

Sometimes, it doesn’t take more than a few bars to realise that a track is more than a little special. That’s the case with Steppen Stones’ Darlin’ Oh Darlin.’ Released in 1980, on J Jam Records, this is one of DJ Supreme La Rock’s best finds. It’s smooth, soulful and full of slick hooks. This post disco dance track is one of the highlights of Wheedle’s Groove-Seattle Funk, Modern Soul and Boogie: Volume 2 1972-1987. Thirty-four years after its release, Darlin’ Oh Darlin’ will still fill a dance-floor.

Back in 2011, Unfinished Business rereleased Holding On on Seattle’s Decimal Records. Belatedly, this glorious hidden gem made a welcome return. It’s one of these tracks that as soon as you hear it, you’re won over by its charms. Smooth, soulful, jazz-tinged and funky describes what was only the second single Unfinished Business released. The arrangement just floats along. Jazz-tinged guitars and mellow keyboards setting the scene for a tender, needy vocal. With a summery feel-good sound, it’s a timeless sounding track.

Frederick Robinson III released Love One Another in 1983, on TLP Records. It’s a real fusion of musical genres and influences. Some people see Love One Another as Modern Soul. Not me. I’d described it as a gospel-funk protest track featuring an impassioned vocal vamp from Frederick.

My final choice from Wheedle’s Groove-Seattle Funk, Modern Soul and Boogie: Volume 2 1972-1987 is Robbie Hill’s Family Affair’s Don’t Give Up. This was one five tracks recorded in Los Angeles, between 1971 and 1973, when the band were active. Sadly, these tracks were never released during the band’s lifetime. It wasn’t until  2013, forty years later, that Light In The Attic Records released Gotta Get Back : The Unreleased L.A. Sessions that the songs were heard by a wider audience. One of the highlights is Don’t Give Up, a beautiful and hopeful slice of soulful music. This is the perfect way to close Wheedle’s Groove-Seattle Funk, Modern Soul and Boogie: Volume 2 1972-1987, and whets our appetite for the next instalment in the series.

Wheedle’s Groove-Seattle Funk, Modern Soul and Boogie: Volume 2 1972-1987 has a been a long time coming. Ten years in fact. However, whose been counting? Well plenty of people who enjoyed the first instalment in the Wheedle’s Groove series. However, their patience has been rewarded. The music on Wheedle’s Groove-Seattle Funk, Modern Soul and Boogie: Volume 2 1972-1987 makes the ten year wait worthwhile.

The music on Wheedle’s Groove-Seattle Funk, Modern Soul and Boogie: Volume 2 1972-1987 is a mixture of boogie, funk and soul. There’s even a hint of disco, gospel, hip hop and jazz. Eclectic is the best way to describe Wheedle’s Groove-Seattle Funk, Modern Soul and Boogie: Volume 2 1972-1987. This isn’t a compilation that focuses on one genre. No. It’s a compilation that takes a few twists and turns. Surprises are sprung and curveballs bowled. You never quite know what what direction Wheedle’s Groove-Seattle Funk, Modern Soul and Boogie: Volume 2 1972-1987 is heading. What you do know is that the music is captivating, compelling and will ooze quality. 

Light In The Attic Records have struck gold with Wheedle’s Groove-Seattle Funk, Modern Soul and Boogie: Volume 2 1972-1987. It’ll be released by Light In The Attic Records on 16th June 2014. At long last, the ten year wait is over. You won’t be disappointed. No way. Not with music as good as this. Wheedle’s Groove-Seattle Funk, Modern Soul and Boogie: Volume 2 1972-1987 features another eighteen tracks of funky, soulful and dance-floor friendly music from Seattle. Compiled by DJ Supreme La Rock hidden gems, rarities and lost classics sat side-by-side on Wheedle’s Groove-Seattle Funk, Modern Soul and Boogie: Volume 2 1972-1987, which is a must have compilation.

WHEEDLE’S GOOVE-SEATTLE FUNK, MODERN SOUL AND BOOGIE: VOLUME 2 1972-1987.

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