Time to add another chapter to our Continental Strut series! We're trotting around Europe this time around. From the lowlands to the mountains; from the Balkan over the Nordic lands to the Mediterranean and back again. Finding groovy music from East to West, North to South...
1. Nico Gomez - Lupita
Originally released in 1969 on the lp "Ritual" - Omega Records, Belgium.
We start at home. That tiny little dot on the map called Belgium.
Josef van het Groenewoud, a Dutchman who fled from post WW2 Holland after refusing the obligated draft to participate in the military offensive by the Dutch in Indonesia, was a pianist and composer heavily infuenced by latin and brazilian music. He became a well respected recording artist & performer in Belgium, taking up the stage name Nico Gomez, scoring a few minor hits. He's also the father of very famous Belgian troubadour Raymond van het Groenewoud. On his 1969 effort "Ritual" Gomez shies away from his usual 'easy-listening' compositions and pulls all the stops, delivering a deafening selection of rock hard afro-cuban inspired music that meets Euro jerk-funk. I love the whole album but Lupita is really something else. With stunning album artwork that spawned a thousand flyers...
2. Big Jullien And His All Star - Wake The Monster
Originally released in 1970 on the lp "Riviera Sound No.1" - Riviera Records, France.
Crossing the border over to France. Here's a dog rare piece of jerky mod-funk in a big band mode by the hands of composers Ivan Julien & Michel Colombier with assist from ace French session players like piano player Maurice Vander, organist Eddy Louiss an drummer Pierre Dahan amongst others. Big beats!
3. Helmuth Brandenburg - Love Like A Man
Originally released in 1970 on the lp "Big-Band-Beat" - BASF Records, Germany.
Off to Germany for more funky big-band bizniz. "Love Like A Man" is a killer track with heavy drums, scorching fuzz and devastating brass work that wouldn't sound out of place as the theme for a 70's crime soap. It's obvious these guys loved to experiment. Something they continued to do later under the name The Rias Orchestra from whom we borrowed some for The Sith Eleptikal Gems Pt.2.
4. The Rob Franken Organ-Ization - Hunky-Dory
Originally released in 1969 on the lp "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da" - RCA Records, The Netherlands.
Enter The Netherlands, our third neighbouring country, and the home of killer organist Rob Franken. He was one of the first pianists in Europe to take up the Hammond organ and later on the Fender Rhodes piano which became his trademark instrument. Rob's uncanny skills on the keys earned him a place in Peter Herbolzheimer's fantastic Rhythm Combination & Brass outfit and he contributed to over 400 recordings in his 20 years clocking career. His very hard to obtain debut album "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da" showcases Franken's awesome organ play over a tight rhythm section as is most evident on the extra funky "Hunky Dory"...
5. Niebiesko-Czarni - Atma
Originally released in 1969 on the lp "Twarze" - Pronit Records, Poland.
Were heading into Eastern European territory. First stop: Poland. This country always had a solid output of jazz and R&B influenced music through great record labels like Muza & Pronit back in the 60's & 70's. But let's not forget that those were the days of communism and these American sounds weren't endorsed by the men in charge. Not that jammin' on the funk was dangerous. It just wasn't an obvious thing to do. Always good to keep that in mind when listening to East-Euro records. Can't tell you much about the band on offer other than that they created one of my favourite Polish grooves with "Atma", a quirky but uber-funky tune that rocks...
6. Gustav Brom Se Svým Orchestrem - Bounty
Originally released in 1977 on the lp "Polymelomodus" - Supraphon Records, Czechoslovakia.
Czechoslovakia, now known as the Czech Republic, was another great playground for jazz & soul influenced music, eventhough musicians had to play in the shadow of the Iron Curtain like it's Polish neighbours above. That didn't affect master composer & arranger Gustav Brom too much though. He already shot to superstardom from the late 50's onwards as one the greatest jazz big-band leaders in Europe, getting props from the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Motown goddess Diana Ross & her Supremes so he could basically do his thing. "Bounty" finds him on his funkiest...
7. F.B.I. - F.B.I.
Originally released in 1976 on the self titled lp - Good Earth Records, United Kingdom.
On the other side of the North Sea lies the United Kingdom where we have a date with the boys & gals from F.B.I., a prime soul-funk-jazz outfit with only one album under their belt but's it's a goodie. Check the breakbeat-laden title track. A classic British funk jam.
8. Atlas - Play It Cool
Originally released in 1977 on the self titled lp - Bacillus Records, Austria.
Were in Austria. Not exactly a place you would associate with funky music. Here comes Atlas to prove us all wrong. Not always digging the lead vocalist but the grooves and breaks are deffo up to par!
9. Mustafa Özkent Ve Orkestrası - Karadir
Originally released in 1973 on the lp "Gençlik Ile Elele" - Evren Plakları Records, Turkey.
On the crossroads of Europe and Asia we find Turkey, one of the few countries in the world that lies on 2 continents. I found this record in 2002 about 300m from my house on one of the annual street markets (i live in a pre-dominantly Turkish neighbourhood) but had absolutely no idea this was one of the holy grails of Turkish rare grooves. I bought it on sight alone because the cover rocks and the indication of "Rhythm & Soul" was a no-brainer. I was pretty sure it would have a nice little break or two but wasn't ready for the stunning fusion of tradional Turkish music with jazz & rock inside it's grooves... Madness!
10. Svenska Löd Ab - Right On - Kliv På
Originally released in 1971 on the lp "Hörselmat" - Privately released, Sweden.
Were travelling to Scandinavia where the big and rich Sweden is our first halt. I got to admit... i paid A LOT of money for this record and have sold it since then for even more. Something i regret, but hey, that's the game. It's a beauty though and only 200 copies of the original vinyl were ever pressed. Mainly a jazz funk affair with heavy blues and rock undertones, some killer organs, drumbreaks and mighty guitar play from ABBA's guitarist Janne Schaffer...
11. Eero Koivistoinen Music Society - Hot C
Originally released in 1972 on the lp "Wahoo!" - RCA/Victor, Finland.
Scandinavia stop 2. Finland. Saxophone player Eero Koivistoinen received proper musical training in the U.S. which he put to good use on his 1972 solo masterpiece "Wahoo". Imho one of the strongest European jazz-funk albums to date. Check "Hot C" when in doubt...
12. Madras Express - Age Tendre
Originally released on the self titled lp - MLP Records, Switzerland.
Switzerland. Another country that hasn't had much of a funky output. But there are little treasures like Madras Express' "Age Tendre", nice little afro jazz funk fusion gem. Also released in France...
13. Los Chorbos - Sones Del Chicharro
Originally released as a 45 single in 1975 on CBS Records, Spain.
Brilliant little 45 single from Spain that fuses that typical Andalusian flamenco sound with wah wah-laden funk rhythms...
14. Rino De Filippi - Riflessivita
Originally released in 1975 on the lp "Riflessi" - Edi-Pan Records, Italy.
Here comes bella Italy. I don't need to flog to anyone that Italy's musical output has always been of the highest order. From jazz over rock to their incredible soundtracks full of lush sounds. In comes Rino De Filippi, a master of movie scores and Italian library music, with the irresistable "Riflessivita", a cheesy but unique sounding jazz dancer...
15. Marius Popp - Simboluri
Originally released in 1977 on the lp "Panoramic Jazz Rock" - Electrecord Records, Romania.
Our continental trip stops on the borders of the Black Sea in Romania where we dance and feast to the end of a wonderful trip with high grade jazz composer Marius Popp on the funky electric jazz vibes of "Simboluri"...
Fancy some more continental struttin'?