UNDER THE INFLUENCE VOLUME 6: A COLLECTION OF RARE SOUL AND DISCO COMPILED BY FAZE ACTION.

Under The Influence Volume 6: A Collection Of Rare Soul and Disco Compiled By Faze Action.

Label: Z Records.

Every time an independent record label releases a new compilation there’s always the hope that this will be the first instalment in a long running and successful series. Sadly, that hardly ever happens, and the majority compilations that are release prove to be one-offs. That is no surprise as the compilation market is hugely competitive, with many record companies vying for a slice of the lucrative compilation pie. This isn’t easy though.

It takes a compiler with impeccable musical taste whose able to choose a mixture of familiar tracks and hidden gems that will appeal to the widest possible audience. Other record labels will pay a DJ or tastemaker to compile the compilation hoping this will give it some much-needed kudos. Both of these approaches have worked in the past, but only if the record label ponies up for a marketing budget. 

This is something that even some of the larger independent labels are reluctant to do, and they seem unaware of the maxim speculate to accumulate. Some labels think that spending £500 to £1,500 promoting a compilation is guaranteed to bring success their way. Alas, they’re mistaken, as competition within the compilation market is fierce, and a  failure to promote a compilation can have disastrous consequences, that affect the label’s bottom line.

Some record labels release a critically acclaimed compilation that proves to be bang on trend, and it’s a commercial success. This brings much-needed revenue to the label, who are keen to begin work on a second instalment in the series.

If the second instalment in a compilation series proves successful, this can be a game-changer for an independent record label who now  have an additional revenue stream. That is as long as they continue to release compilations of the same quality as the first two instalments.

Many record labels have managed to do this, and soon, are releasing their third, fourth and in some cases, the fifth instalment in their new compilation series. The extra revenue a commercially successful compilation series can bring can transform the fortunes of a previously struggling independent record label. It’s akin to a lottery win that allows them to payoff debt and subsidise worthy, but loss making releases. Not every release is profitable and a successful  compilation series is a godsend for many a record label. 

That has been the case for many record labels who have released long-running, critically acclaimed and commercially successful compilation series. This includes Z Records who released the first instalment in the Under The Influence compilation series in October 2011, and have just released Under The Influence Volume 6: A Collection Of Rare Soul and Disco Compiled By Faze Action. Nearly seven years later, and Under The Influence is one of the most successful compilation series, despite bringing a new curator onboard for each instalment.

This time around, it’s British brothers Simon and Robin Lee a.k.a. Faze Action, who have dug deep into their record collections for the twenty tracks that feature on Under The Influence Volume 6: A Collection Of Rare Soul and Disco Compiled By Faze Action. These tracks are a mixture boogie, disco, funk and soul from Carol Dionne, Stylus, Midway, Delight and Disco Circus. That isn’t forgetting Galaxy, Mikki,  Oscar Perry, Space, Spats and Banzai who are responsible for a veritable feast of floorfillers. Choosing the highlights isn’t going to be easy.

Disc One.

Opening disc one of Under The Influence Volume 6: A Collection Of Rare Soul and Disco Compiled By Faze Action is Carol Dionne’s I’m In Love With You which was released on St Louis based Gateway Records  in 1981. It’s a funky, soulful and sensual dancefloor filler that sets the bar high for the rest of the compilation.

After leaving Ultimate who were signed to Casablanca, Barbara Hernandez embarked upon a solo career. The onetime Eurodisco diva released All Nite Tonight on the Barbados based Bah Bah Records. It was produced by Leston Paul and Meekaaeel Muhammad who deploy percussion, blazing horns and harmonies as elements of disco, funk and soul are combined as Barbara Hernandez delivers a vocal powerhouse.

Cameroon born Bébé Manga became one of the most popular makossa singers of the eighties. Her debut album Ami-Oyomiya was released on the French label SIIS and featured Lokognolo. It’s a glorious fusion of Afrobeat, disco and funk which marked the debut of future makossa Queen Bébé Manga.

Australian funk and soul group Stylus were formed in Melbourne in 1975, and a year later, released their sophomore album For The Love Of Music on Atlantic Records. It featured the smooth and soulful dancefloor filler We All Need One Another which was one of the highlights of For The Love Of Music. Later, Stylus became the first Australian group to be released by Motown Records, and went on to tour with George Benson, the Average White Band and Little River Band. 

After disco there was boogie, and in 1984 Midway released Set It Out as their debut single. It epitomises the boogie sound circa 1984 as a drum machine and synths accompany the vocal. This is the antithesis to disco where lush strings and horns were often part of orchestrated arrangements. However, that was all in the past by 1984 as dance music continued to reinvent itself. Thirty-four years later,  and Faze Action reinvent Set It Out by editing this reminder of the boogie sound.

In 1978, German disco group Disco Circus released their eponymous debut album on Lollipop Records. The album was produced by Jürgen S. Korduletsch and features Dig It which is a catchy combination of disco, Eurodisco, funk,  pop and soul.

Disc Two.

Opening disc two is Galaxy’s Let Love Begin which is a track from their eponymous debut album. It was recorded in England, but later released on the Nigerian label Tabansi label in the early eighties. One of the highlights of this disco boogie album was Let Love Begin which was written and multi-instrumentalist Jake Sollo who produced Galaxy. He plays an important part in the sound and success of Galaxy, which was this short-lived group’s only release.

PFO Pilgrim Fathers Orchestra was an Italian studio band who released Touch Me Don’t Stop on their own label  Pilgrim Fathers Records in 1981. This was two years after the supposed demise of disco. However, there’s still a strong disco influence which is combined with boogie on funk on this slick, soulful and dancefloor filler that later, hints at piano house.

Blues and soul singer Oscar Perry was born in Texas in 1943, but by 1979 was signed to Gamma Records and had just released Body Movements. It was written, arranged and produced by Oscar Perry who had reinvented himself as a disco singer. The highlight of the album was the title-track Body Movements which was a soulful slice of disco that has stood the test of time.

In Italy, in 1979, the Ariston label released Ruba Ruba which marked the comeback of Italian-American-born dancer, choreographer, TV present and singer Don Lurio. Ruba Ruba was Don Lurio’s first single in over a decade and was a lavishly orchestrated disco single. Strings, horns, harmonies and a funky rhythm section accompanied Don Lurio’s vocal, which ironically although full of enthusiasm, was the weakest part of the single.

Spats released their eponymous debut album on the American label Good Sounds in 1978. One of the highlights of the album was Hot Summer Madness where Spats combine elements of disco and funk, with a soulful vocal the final piece of the jigsaw. Sadly, Spats never released another album, but Hot Summer Madness forty years later, Hot Summer Madness returns for a well deserved encore.

Closing Under The Influence Volume 6: A Collection Of Rare Soul and Disco Compiled By Faze Action is Banzai’s Runaway, which featured on  their eponymous album, when it was released by EMI in Spain, in 1980. Runaway features elements of boogie, electronic music, jazz and Latin, and is a reminder of where music was at in 1980. Music had changed since the demise of disco and this was a new chapter in the history of dance music.

The music on Under The Influence Volume 6: A Collection Of Rare Soul and Disco Compiled By Faze Action was released during the seventies and eighties, when disco and boogie provided the soundtrack to clubs on both sides of the Atlantic. Many DJs spun tracks from Under The Influence Volume 6: A Collection Of Rare Soul and Disco Compiled By Faze Action which enticed and encouraged even the most reluctant dancers onto the dancefloor and they enjoyed music that was released not just in America but also in Africa, Barbados and Europe. 

Over thirty years later, that music features on Under The Influence Volume 6: A Collection Of Rare Soul and Disco Compiled By Faze Action is a cosmopolitan and eclectic selection of music where mostly, the emphasis is on quality music. Having said that, there’s the very occasional track that doesn’t quite work. Mostly, though the music on Under The Influence Volume 6: A Collection Of Rare Soul and Disco Compiled By Faze Action is quality we’ve come to expect from this long-running and successful compilation series.

Z Records who released the Under The Influence series, have always taken great care choosing a curator for the annual compilation. This year, it’s Simon and Robin Lee a.k.a. Faze Action, who have dug deep into their collections, and chose a mixture of a familiar dancefloor fillers and oft-overlooked hidden gems that feature on Under The Influence Volume 6: A Collection Of Rare Soul and Disco Compiled By Faze Action which is the latest instalment in this long-running and successful compilation series that seems to go from strength-to-strength.

Under The Influence Volume 6: A Collection Of Rare Soul and Disco Compiled By Faze Action.

 

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