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VARIOUS ARTISTS: The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Cub Vol. 4 (2016)

vol-4-craig-charles-funk-soul-clubReleased very slightly later in the year than we’ve come to expect since The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club album became an annual event, Vol. 4 finds Freestyle Records and keeper of the funk flame Craig Charles conspire to ensure that the festive season this year is righteously funky. And soulful. And latin. And afro. And could there be some four-to-the-floor business too? After all – Craig’s on the cover lost in the mix, framed by two mirror balls and lit in such a way as to make it look like he’s actually wearing silver clothing! Perhaps this should really be called Vol. 54 and there’s some truth to the rumours that Mr Charles now goes by ‘Cadillac Craig’ the fly gangster disco prince?

Well, it does kick off with boogie funk-laden offering Family Tree from antipodean soulstress Kylie Auldist but – actually – that’s more or less about as close to disco as things get because, as usual, our Craig’s having far too much fun exploring every branch of the funk-soul family. Two of the biggest bangers must have got late clearance since they weren’t even on the promo. That’ll be Marta Ren & The Groovelvets’ excellent funky soul bomb Release Me then and the massive first single (and Hot Chocolate cover), You Could’ve Been A Lady, off Smoove & Turrell’s classic latest LP Crown Posada. As always, the old is represented as well as the new – on this volume by Brian Auger’s mod-soul-rocker heater Black Cat and Ginger Johnson’s joyous I Jool Omo from the pre-history of afrobeat. Lisa Stansfield makes a welcome appearance too and has what you think is the downtempo side of things covered with The Rain – which keeps building and building until you realise that what she’s actually got covered is the latter-day orchestral soul side of things. The other big bangers include Lexsoul Dancemachine‘s frankly filthy dancefloor monster Beefgrinder and The Traffic’s organic instro version of Grandmaster Flash’s White Lines. Spinage a dix-neuf!
(Out 9 December on Freestyle Records)

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