It’s been a little while since I’ve been able to bring you a selection from one of our funky friends but we’re back with a bang this week as our latest guest contributor is the one and only, Mr Greg Belson.
Greg began collecting records in 1984, initially exploring the “Hip-hop” genre with artists like Public Enemy, Tuff Crew, D.O.C., Just Ice & Schooly D dominating his record collection. It was always gonna be a natural progression to investigate where the samples actually came from so by 1988, soul, funk and jazz had properly taken flight. Labels like Blue Note, CTI, Kudu & Strata East, artists like Minnie Riperton & The Rotary Connection, David Axelrod & Eddie Bo all became instant mainstays. In 1990 he started the much lauded “Urban Soul” sessions with DJ Vadim (Ninja Tune/Jazz Fudge/BBE). By 1994, Greg & Keb Darge joined forces to launch the legendary club session that has become a brand name in “Deep Funk”.
After around 15 years of dj’ing across the U.K. Greg relocated to Los Angeles in 2006 where he regularly spins at “Funky Sole” at The Echo on Sunset Boulevard. DJ appearances around the States include the “Emerald City Soul Club” in Seattle, “Soul Togetherness” in Chicago, as well as dates in New York, Detroit and all across California. 2011 saw the launch of “The Divine Chord Gospel Show” which has gained a global fanbase with dedicated listeners tuning in worldwide. Greg has continued funking floors all around the globe for the best part of 25 years and in 2014, he embarked on a 46-date European tour taking in nights all over the U.K., as well as Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Holland and Italy.
We’re delighted that Greg has taken time out of his busy schedule to dig into his collection and showcase a brilliant piece of rare black music with us. Mr Belson, it’s over to you…
“Thanks so much to Gary for giving me the opportunity to write some words about a funk 45 that’s currently residing in my playbox.
I’ve been exploring the world of gospel and it’s harder more soulful, funk oriented recordings for the last 20 and some odd years. It was a conscious decision I made after hearing DJ Snowboy play Clarence Smith’s ‘Sometimes I feel like a motherless child’ on Gospel Truth, back in 1993. The moment totally stayed with me along with the thought of starting to explore more gospel recordings that could certainly crossover into clubland territory.
And so it began.
Searching for 45’s that often never found the light of day out of their own local ministry, let alone had any kind of state wide distribution. The hallowed nationwide distributed recordings were saved for the select few like The Staple Singers or artists that made it into the Peacock, Checker and Songbird labels. In an attempt to grab a bigger audience, many artists would take a popular secular song of the day, and essentially ‘gospelize’ it. Some tracks like Florida Spiritualaires ‘I remember when’ on Ernie’s Record Parade, basically took the entire riff of The Intruders ‘Cowboys to girls’ on the Gamble label, and repackaged it for a gospel market. There are countless examples of this occurrence and the harder you dig, the more you’ll discover.
My offering here is one such recording by Shirley Finney…..her version has stayed pretty true to the original recording by Sly & the Family Stone, written by Sylvester Stewart. This take was released by a gospel label out of New York circa 1971, by a gospel oriented artist. The production is rough and ready and includes a mighty, mighty drumbreak for the dancefloor. Shirley had recorded a few singles prior to this release, which were issued at the beginning of the Jas catalogue around 1968. As a label, Jas were starting to wind down by 1971, and by the following year, they had closed up shop entirely. This release is heading towards the end of an era, but yet, it really is as tough as they come.
Ms Finney later went on to record some incredible discs for the much famed and far larger co-operation, Savoy label. Let Google be your friend and have a look around for some of her work on those two LP’s released in ‘76/’77. Whilst the production is distinctly more modern and some might say disco, the tunes are powerhouse dancefloor cuts worthy of any forward thinking club”.