A Quick Guide to old school Brit Soul and Funk
Here’s a props give to a very under-rated species, the Brit Soul & Funk acts from the 80’s. The period from the late 70’s to late 80’s was no doubt a golden period with so much talent and fantastic music. These acts faced a lot of discrimination in their own backyards as they competed with the bigger budget, US Soul and Funk acts who pretty much dominated the scene . Props also to pirate stations like LWR, Starpoint, Kiss, Solar and Horizon who ensured we got to hear the music. Here’s a quick guide to the key players of the scene.
The early days, the sound was mainly Funk.
The Real Thing – Soul band which included the talented Amoo brothers as members. They started out in the early 70’s and spanned the decade. Known for ‘ Can You Feel The Force’ (1979).
Hi-Tension – A Funk Band which included future key players such as Phil Fearon and David Joseph. Known for ‘Hi- tension’ (1978).
Delegation – A Soul trio from Birmingham. Known for ‘ You and I’ (1979).
Freeez – A Jazz-Funk band, known for ‘Southern Freeze’ (1979).
Heatwave – Soul and Funk band which included Michael Jackson’s future songwriter, Rod Temperton. Known for Boogie Nights (1978).
Honourable mention goes to Atmosfear, Hott Wax and Kandidate.
A Brit Soul sound was coming through which was quite different to the US stuff. Quite a few Jazz-Funk acts were involved in the scene as well.
Light Of The World – A Jazz-Funk band, known for ‘London Town’ (1980).
Linx – Soul and Funk duo including David Grant. Known for ‘You’re Lying’ ( 1980).
Central Line – A Funk band who also achieved moderate success in the US. Known for ‘Walking Into Sunshine’ (1981).
Imagination – A Funk and new wave Soul trio from London, achieved international success. Known for ‘Body Talk’ (1981).
I Level – A short lived group, cut only two albums but with big songs. Known for ‘Give Me’ (1981).
Junior – Solo singer, one of the first Brit acts to be successful in the US. Known for ‘Mama Used To Say’ (1982).
Honourable mention goes to Beggar & Co, Level 42, UK Players, Savanna, Second Image and Richard Jon Smith
This was the busiest period for Brit Soul and Funk. A smooth, polished American type, R&B sound was emerging.
David Grant – Went solo from Linx. Known for ‘Watching You Watching Me’ (1983).
Cool Notes – Previously a Reggae Lovers Rock band , the switch was a gain for Brit Soul. Known for ‘Never Too Young’ (1984).
Phil Fearon & Galaxy – Went solo from Hi-Tension and formed Galaxy. Known for ‘What do I do’ (1984).
Loose Ends – R&B trio with loads of hits, achieved even more success in the US than back home. Possibly the most successful act of Brit Soul& Funk. Known for ‘Hangin’ On A String’ (1985).
Jaki Graham – Solo singer, used to be a backing vocalist for UB40. Known for ‘Round & Around’ (1985).
Princess – Solo singer produced by Stock Aitken Waterman who were better known for making pop music. Known for ‘Say I’m Your No. 1’ (1985).
Five Star – Pop /R&B act consisting of five siblings, reminiscent of the Jacksons. Achieved international success. Known for ‘Let Me Be The One’ (1985).
Total Contrast – Soul and Electro duo. Known for ‘Takes a little Time’ (1985).
Honourable mention goes to Masquerade, Sahara, Hindsight, Dante, The Limit and 52nd Street.
An underground was starting to emerge, a departure from the US smooth sound. The music was heavily influenced by mid-70’s soul.
Rick Clarke – Mainly known on the underground, a London secret. Known for ‘I Really Wanna Be With You’ featuring Emma.
Soul II Soul – Took it completely away from the American sound, then took it to America and came back with Grammy awards, despite not even getting a nod for a brit award back home…
Nuff respect to these cats who together created the Brit Soul and Funk sound. Hear them all on Woofer!