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February 12, 2012

Funk Soul Friday

by gordonmichaelsutton

Putney’s south of the river – the Thames, that is – but this was no guarantee that it would feel any warmer than the rest of London on Friday last week. I’d been feeling deprived of snow this winter up in Liverpool, but there was plenty of it in London. Slippery pavements, occasional snowmen, and muffled commuters on the tube, were all signs of the recent cold snap. This is the station at East Putney. Minutes later I was having coffee, a croissant, and a respite from the cold in a cafe next door.

Had a great day with the client in Putney, but it had been hard work and a very early start that morning. Decided a little exercise was in order and walked the half mile or so back to the station and was intrigued to see a sign for Soul Brother Records.

Must have looked a little incongruous in my black overcoat with a suit and tie underneath but the staff couldn’t have been more helpful and friendly. This was a small, specialist and independent record shop that happened to specialise in funk, soul and jazz. So – “I’d like some funk, please” – seemed as good an opening line as any. After all, they were the specialists. I was keen to see how they’d interpret such an open brief.

The two guys – Laurence and Johnny – couldn’t have been more enthusiastic. I’d nearly bought a double album of early Candi Staton on their say-so at the start of the proceedings. The recommendations came thick and fast; their enthusiasm was infectious! In the end, I settled on a classic 70’s album by The Meters – a New Orleans funk outfit – called Rejuvenation. It’s a great album and far more accomplished all round than their funk contemporaries, Rufus. With a cover like this, you know you’re in for an exciting set. Personal favourite track so far is Hey Pocky A-Way.

Second purchase was a classic soul album from the same period – I’m Only A Man – by Willie Tee. As soon as they played this on the shop’s sound system it was game over – I had to have it. His version of By The Time I Get To Phoenix leaves the original in the shade. And I never thought this could be a soul song too! The whole album has more a Chicago soul feel rather than say, Philadelphia or the West Coast.

Great to see the shop have a website too for online ordering – http://www.soulbrother.com/ – this could turn out to be an expensive find today!

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