EVERYTHING IS GONNA BE ALRIGHT: CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF WESTBOUND SOUL AND FUNK.

Everything Is Gonna Be Alright: Celebrating 50 Years Of Westbound Soul and Funk.

Label: Westbound.

By 1969, Armen Boladian was a familiar face within the Detroit music scene, and the musical impresario was about to launch a new label Westbound Records. This came as no surprise to those that knew Armen Boladian who previously, had founded and run the Fascination label and the Record Distribution Corporation. However, when Armen Boladian’s latest venture Westbound Records opened its doors in 1969, he had no idea that it would become a musical institution.

In a way, that was no surprise, as Armen Boladian brought onboard talented arrangers, musicians, producers and songwriters to work with the artists he would sign to Westbound Records over the next few years. This included CJ and Company, Denis LaSalle, Dennis Coffey, Funkadelic, The Detroit Emerald and The Ohio Players. These artists would bring commercial success and critical acclaim the way of Westbound Records. Many of these artists feature on Everything Is Gonna Be Alright: Celebrating 50 Years Of Westbound Soul and Funk, which has just been released by Westbound an imprint of Ace Records.

Everything Is Gonna Be Alright: Celebrating 50 Years Of Westbound Soul and Funk is twenty-four track celebration of Westbound’s achievements featuring some of its finest releases. There’s also some lesser known tracks including the track that opens the compilation. This is Emanuel Lasky’s A Letter From Vietnam slice of socially conscious soul A Letter From Vietnam. It was the B-Side to Westbound’s first single More Love (Where This Came From) which was released in 1969. 

Westbound Records most successful signing was Funkadelic who released eight albums on Westbound Records. This began with Funkadelic in May 1970 and six years later, Tales of Kidd Funkadelic was released in September 1976 just before the P-Funk pioneers signed to Warner Bros. However I’ll Bet You from their debut album Funkadelic features is a tantalising taste of the P-Funk pioneers as they embark on their musical journey at Westbound. Four years later in 1974 they released Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On and by then, Funkadelic had honed their trademark P-Funk sound. It shows how far the group had come in just four years and just like I’ll Bet You, is a reminder of one of the P-Funk Pioneers.

When Denise LaSalle released Trapped By A Thing Called Love in 1971, it reached number thirteen in the US Billboard 100, topped the US R&B charts and was certified gold. She then enjoyed hits woth  Now Run and Tell That and Man Sized Job. However, the one that got away is Get Up Off My Mind which was released in 1974. It’s a single that deserved to fare better and showcases the soulful sound of Denise LaSalle at the peak of her powers.

In 1972, The Ohio Players, released their sophomore album Pain which was certified gold. It featured the single Pain (Part 1) which despite being one of the highlights of the album stalled at sixty-four in the US Billboard 100 and thirty-five in the US R&B charts. Then in 1973 Funky Worm reached fifteen in the US Billboard 100 and topped the US R&B charts. Despite this success, The Ohio Players weren’t Westbound Records most successful signing.

The Detroit Emeralds also enjoyed three consecutive top ten hits in the US R&B charts between 1971 and 1972. This began with Do Me Right which reached forty-three in the  US Billboard 100 and seven in the US R&B charts. Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms) reached thirty-six in the US Billboard 100 and five in the US R&B charts, before You Want It, You Got It reached twenty-four in the US Billboard 100 and four in the US R&B charts. By then, Armen Boladian’s Westbound Records was going from strength to strength.

When funk group Pleasure Web released Music Man-Part 1 as a single, it failed to end the audience it deserved. However, later  and Music Man-Part 1 and 2 which are funky hidden gems became a a favourite of DJs and hop hop producers and introduced Pleasure Web’s music to a wider audience.

In 1975, the Fantastic Four released the album Alvin Stone (The Birth And Death Of A Gangster) which told the story of a fictional gangster. The title-track which is the standout track on the album was released as a single in 1975 and is reminiscent of The Temptations  when Norman Whitfield was taking charge of production. Alvin Stone (The Birth And Death Of A Gangster) is a hidden gem of a track from a group that never reached the heights they deserved to.

During his career at Westbound, Junie was a member of both The Ohio Players and Funkadelic. He also released three solo albums. If You Love Him was released as a single by Junie in 1976 and is taken from the album Suzie Super Groupie. It’s a funky and soulful track and a reminder of the multitalented Junie.

C&J and Co’s Devil’s Gun which was released as a single in 1977, and reached thirty-six in the US Billboard 100 and two in the US R&B charts. Later, in 1977, C&J and Co released their debut album which reached sixty in the US Billboard 200 and twelve in the US R&B charts. Devil’s Gun was produced by Dennis Coffey and Mike Theodore, and mixed by Tom Moulton.. The result was a single that was soulful, funky, tough and dancefloor friendly and has stood the test of time.

The Detroit Emeralds had originally released Feel The Need In Me as a single in 1972, which released twenty-two in the US R&B charts and number four in the UK. By 1977, the hits had dried up for The Detroit Emeralds, and they needed to kickstart their ailing career. To do this, it was suggested that they record Feel The Need In Me which became Feel The Need and was released in 1977, reaching ninety in the US Billboard 100 and seventy-three in the US R&B charts. Across the Atlantic, Feel The Need reached number twelve. When The Detroit Emeralds released their new album Feel The Need, which was produced by Abrim Tilmon and mixed by Tom Moulton, it failed to even trouble the charts. That was a great shame as Feel The Need, which is a mixture of soul and disco, is without doubt, the highlight of their album.

During the disco era, many disco orchestras were founded in cities across America, and followed in the footsteps of Vince Montana Jr’s Salsoul Orchestra. This included The Mike Theodore Orchestra who released their sophomore album High On Mad Mountain in 1979. It featured the eight minute epic High On Mad Mountain, which epitomises everything that is good about the disco orchestra including rasping horns, harmonies and sweeping strings who march to the beat of Jerry Jones and Lee Marcus’ drums. This is the perfect way to close Everything Is Gonna Be Alright: Celebrating 50 Years Of Westbound Soul and Funk.

Westbound Records released an eclectic selection of music during the seventies including disco. funk, jazz-funk, P-Funk, post-P-Funk, proto-boogie, soul and soul-jazz. The music was usually carefully crafted, and often by top  arrangers, musicians and producers. They played their part in making music that as often slick, soulful, funky and dancefloor friendly. Sadly the music Westbound Records wasn’t always successful and passed record buyers by.

That includes a number of tracks on Everything Is Gonna Be Alright: Celebrating 50 Years Of Westbound Soul and Funk which was recently released by Westbound Records, which is an imprint of Ace Records. The twenty-four groundbreaking and timeless tracks on Everything Is Gonna Be Alright: Celebrating 50 Years Of Westbound Soul and Funk is a reminder of Armen Boladian’s influential label Westbound Records. It helped shape hip hop and inspired several generation of producers and thankfully, the music that features on Everything Is Gonna Be Alright: Celebrating 50 Years Of Westbound Soul and Funk is belatedly being enjoyed and appreciated by music fans worldwide.

Everything Is Gonna Be Alright: Celebrating 50 Years Of Westbound Soul and Funk.

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