Ancient Shaolin-Meets-Hollywood dialogue on the Intro leads into the funktastic "El Soul Condor" by Soul Condor, a German jazz group lead by Art Farmer, Peter Harbolzheimer and Herb Geller. Though not credited, this 1970 jam of off Soul Condor's one and only album, Certain Lions and Tigers is obviously a cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "El Condor Pasa" but Simon and Garfunkel never sounded so funky.
Speaking of rock covers, Australia's Southern Contemporary Rock Assembly comes blazing in after with their sizzling take of the venerable hit "C.C. Rider". This is off their lesser known SCRA album on Metronome as opposed to their more popular Ship Album which came out in the States on Atlantic.
And hell, let's just toss in one more cover for good measure, this time, Hi Records' honey Ann Peebles does her thing by recording a fantastic version of the Isley Brothers' classic "It's Your Thing" . Recorded for her 1971 album Part Time Love Peebles stays loyal to the original but her screaming vocals gives the song an entirely different feel.
Dialing up to more modern times, the UK's Aim brings us "Just Passin' Thru", a gorgeous number that liberally samples Harlem River Drive. It originally appeared on the group's scarce Downstate EP from 2000 and was more recently comped by the good folks at Mystic Brew for their Fat City Sound LP.
This opens up the door for a classic from the Bay Area, the Souls of Mischief's "That's When Ya Lost". I still remember first hearing this monstrous cut, sitting in my dorm room at UC Berkeley as DJ Beni B played the 12" on his KALX radio show. Still in the Bay, '90s KMEL mixer Alex Meija is responsible for the ragga-tinged remix of Arrested Development's "Tennessee" which was featured on a promo-only 12" along with two other remixes.
The next two songs are courtesy NYC rappers, beginning with "Wild Pitch" by Chill Rob G off of one of his several 12" for the label of the same name. Cutmasta Curt would resurrect this memorable horn-hittin' track back for Rasco almost a decade later. That's followed by the Wicked Mix remix of Special Ed's "The Mission". Yeah, I know a lot of DJs think Wicked Mixes are cheating but I like how they flipped the extra intro on this one.
Dippin' briefly into 45 land, the Mod Singers and Mod Lads bring us one of my favorite dance cuts, "Let's Have Some Fun", a swinging 7" cut on Wand. It's not funky in a conventional way but if you can't feel this, you just can't feel. James Brown gets that feelin' going even more with one of his many insanely great jams, "It's a New Day" from the album (and 45) of the same name. Straight up no one does it better than James.
Of course, his former band, lead by Maceo and All the Kings Men do a pretty damn good imitation with "Got To Getcha" from the *** album they recorded after bolting Mr. JB over labor issues. Super slinky, you can see that it wasn't Brown alone who perfected his sound.
From the excellent When Shapes Join Together 3 compilation comes Theva Whateva's "Singalong", a scatapella scorcher that bops along something lovely. From the UK comes the Organ Mix of A Tribe Called Quest's "Oh My God", from an import 12 feat. four whopping remixes of the Tribe classic. There's only one mix of "Cabbage Patch" by the World Class Wrecking Cru but Dr. Dre (who produced this pre-NWA blaster) nails it the first time out. Featured on the Cru's "Turn Off the Lights" 12", this is one of the great, unsung dance cuts from the Left Coast. "Cabbage Patch" might sound archaic (why isn't there a dance called the Pokemon?) but it still rocks like a mutha.
"Funky Drummer" comes courtesy African drummer Rim, from a disco-flavored, late '70s album Rim Arrives. The drumming is indeed funky, but it's that swinging bassline that makes the song work as well as it does. This segues into the beat barrage from Orange Krush and their mid-80s dance 12" "Action", produced by a pre-Def Jam Russell Simmons, who I assume is voicing the chipmunk-like paramour featured in the middle of the song. Taking it back a little more old school is the 12" edit of Blondie's "Rapture". Not only was Blondie a dime, but peep her ill lyrics, talking about this Martian who eats cars and bars. What was she smoking back in the day? And can I get some?
This brings us to the title track off of the Quartette Tres Bien's, Boss Tres Bien album. Simply put, this is one of the greatest jazz dance songs I've ever heard, starting off beautifully but then pumping the rhythm all the way, taking it back down for a rest and then vamping back up again for a killer closer. Unlike many of the other songs on this mix-CD, I play it all the way out and it's worth every minute.
The only way I could follow up with a song as killer as "Boss Tres Bien" is to drop arguably the greatest boogaloo cut ever recorded, the Joe Cuba Sextet's "Bang Bang", from his Wanted Dead or Alive album. Originally released on a Tico 45, "Bang Bang" went on to sell over one million copies and helped ignite an already popular boogaloo craze from the mid-60s. After all these years, it's still as infectious a groover as they come.
Back on the 45 tip, the sizzling "Love-Ray" is fired by Caution from a 1974 7" recorded for Estelle Axton's Fretone imprint, a Memphis label that was an off-shoot of Axton's far better known Stax. If the love-ray beams are too much to take, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings jump in to "Cut the Line", one of the many nuevo-funk jams they bust out on Jones' recent Dap Dippin With album. Ironically, new funk never sounded so old (and that's a good thing).
Keeping it funky, it's back to Memphis with Stax's studio band, the Mar-Keys chomping in with their massive instrumental blaster, "Grab This Thing Pt. 1" from their Stax 45. The SD50s must have liked what they heard since they liberally sample "Grab This Thing" for their remix of Grand Puba's first solo single, "360" , a slept-on classic from 1992. Equally ignored that year is the horn-heavy remix of Big Daddy Kane's "Get Down", snuck onto the B-side of "The Lover In You". Kane might have been starting to slip into his Chocolate Prince decline but on this cut, he still keeps it r.a.w.
Ending the CD are two dedications to musical legends lost in 2002. Run DMC's "Peter Piper" rightfully gives it up to one of the greatest DJs in hip-hop history, Jam Master Jay. That's followed by a sweet, melancholy piano solo called "This Is Where I Came In", composed and played by the incorporable Weldon Irvine, whose genius spanned generations of black musical production. The song is from his Sinbad LP, one of the handful he recorded for RCA. Listen to how he holds that last note until he takes his foot off the pedal. Good night Weldon, good night.