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TRAMP RECORDS: Feeling Nice Vol. 4 (2017)

TRAMP RECORDS: Feeling Nice Vol. 4 (2017)[RATING: 5] If you thought there was only time for one more big-ass rare groove retrospective from Tramp Records before the end of the year with their Countdown To Soul you are sorely (but also happily) mistaken for that honour goes to this – Feeling Nice Vol. 4 – the latest instalment in one of the label’s longest running series. As always, the focus is on the funk and, as always, the chances of you having heard the majority of the stuff on this (unless your surname is Darge or Wright) is slim indeed. MB readers will know by now however, that the fact that there are so many old funk cuts out there that have been languishing in dusty crates is not a reflection of a skill deficit on the part of the artists (as the work of Tramp and other labels continually reveals) but an indication of both the socio-economic circumstances of the context of production and a measure of just how fertile the golden era of funk and soul was.

Any doubts as to the groovy accessibility of this compilation are put to bed with the opener – the laid back psych-funk of Combined Forces take on the ‘much-covered by funk and soul acts’ Traffic song Feeling Alright – arguably one of the best covers of the track in existence. Another thing the album offers is a wider variety of early funky sub-genres this time around. That ol’ ‘titty-shaker’ sound for one is represented by the Big Bear Review’s squalling guitar and sax-heavy instrumental Big Bear though elements of the same sound can also be found in Jim Pipkin & The Boss Five’s pounding brass-heavy Walkin’ The Duck. Think along the lines of Roger & The Gypsies’ better known Pass The Hatchet and you’re ball park. Shingaling soul is also represented by Donnie Sanders & The Don Juans’ Shing-A-Ling Baby, while Living Funk’s Silver Black Summer Day leans towards latin boogaloo. Also of note are the martial arts-themed 70s groover Karate by Mr Clean & The Cleanser, the super-catchy uptempo riot of Little Caesar & The Euterpeans’ It Ain’t What You Do It’s The Way How You Do It and the stank funky soul of Donald Ray & His Revue’s Strut Your Stuff. This latter – sampled for the first time just last year for Mako & The Hawk’s boomp-bap party bump of the same name – was released years ago as a Tramp 45 re-issue but has never previously featured on a compilation. It is noteworthy not only for channelling a similar vibe to Charles Wright’s Express Yourself and Jean Knight’s Mr Big Stuff but is also unusual in providing a male-vocal anthem for soul sisters everywhere. Enough to have you feeling nice all on it’s own in other words. Add in everything else on here and there’s every chance you’ll be grinning like a Cheshire cat – or possibly a 70s knitwear model.
(Out now on Tramp Records)

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