Spend £15 or so on this collection, or around £1,000 on the original vinyl - it's your call...
Eight years on from the first volume, Dave Lee presents another selection of obscure Brit-funk gems on his own Z Records label.
With the dance music years after disco and before house and techno having undergone something of a reappraisal over the past decade or so, there's certainly no shortage of collections of early 80s floorfillers on the racks these days, but two things make Backstreet Brit Funk Vol 2 stand out. Firstly, all the artists featured hail from right here on these shores (as, to be fair, you'd probably already gleaned from the title). And secondly, some serious crate-digging has gone into making this album possible! The Brit-funk era spawned numerous hitmakers in the form of Linx, The Cool Notes and Beggar & Co, to name but three, but you'll find none of those well-known names here. Many of the featured tracks aren't even listed on Discogs, and those that you can find are seldom priced below £60-£80 for the 12-inch. Indeed, many of these cuts have been remastered from said all-too-rare vinyl. A hastily chucked-together 'greatest hits' compilation this definitely is not!
Moving on to the music itself, and like another great British institution the album's very much a game of two halves, Brian. CD1 is home to slick, soulful grooves that, in many cases, could just as easily be filed under 'boogie' or just 'soul' as funk - for those that lived through the era, it'll no doubt conjure memories of hi-top fades and shiny suits worn with the sleeves turned up. A few of the (predominantly male) vocals here are a bit on the syrupy side for yours truly, but standouts include Index's disco-inspired stomper Starlight and the previously unreleased Dub Mix of Janet Kay's Eternally Grateful. There's a marked change of gear on CD2, though, where the overall vibe shifts from sugary soul into raw jazz-funk and underground disco, and for me this is where the real action is. Touchdown's Ease Your Mind is a Latin-tinged romp worthy of Brass Construction themselves, Cache's Jazzin' And Cruisin' will have the hepcats scouring AutoTrader for Cortina convertibles, Proton's We're Funkin' is a slap-bass masterclass, Cloud's All Night Long is a sax-tastic workout for the jazz dancers, and so it goes on.
All told, Backstreet Britfunk Vol 2 is another fine set that merely underlines Z Records' status as suppliers of some of the finest compilations around.
Words: Russell Deeks
Release date: 22 June
Review Score: 8