Strut is the London based label dedicated to "unearthing the lost gems of dance music past." The company focuses on funk, Afro beat, dance floor jazz, underground disco, and old skool hip hop. Each track on this sampler lusciously presents these lost treasures in their original sonic glory and mixes a few of them to give the songs a modern appeal.
The first track James Brown Ride On by Orlando Julius & His Afro Sounder was composed as tribute to The Godfather himself during a trip to West Africa in the early 70's. This represents the classic Nigerian Afro beat made famous by Fela Kuti. Plenty of horns and percussion to keep this " super bad" tune dancing.
Standing On the Top by Super 3 is a song about being famous that combines classic funk with old skool hip hop. Bootsie Collins meets Sugar Hill Gang. It combines the infectious funk bass guitar with jumpy lyrics that made both genres so popular. In subtle hip hop style, it even features a guitar riff of 'Superstar' from Jesus Christ Superstar to emphasize its message.
With all its funkiness and rhythm, the edits and mixes of give this sampler its true soul - not that it needed any. It provides a new avenue for these songs to be presented to a new and younger audience. New York's own Danny Krivit displays his disco roots in his edit of Caress' Catch The Rhythm.
Even music made for television and ad agencies in the 60's and 70's gets a vibrant facelift. Paolo Zavallone's Yellow Fever and Irving Martin & Brian Dee's Indianapolis 2 gets mixed by Ashley Beedle and The Bronx Dogs, respectively. These two tracks epitomize what this label is about. It combines yesterdays camp by incorporating today's technology with the original. Yellow Fever balances this perfectly by showcasing the original with a little help with a simple rhythmic electronic sample complete with the whistles. Whereas Indianapolis 2, as clean as it sounds, produces too much synth without the retro.
Michael Viner's Incredible Bongo Band's Apache gets a fresh work over by the timeless Grandmaster Flash. Although this mix is not daring, Grandmaster Flash displays his turntable prowess and technique which has made him a model for many DJs for over 25 years. This sampling incorporates the pervasive 1/4 1/4 1/8 1/8 1/4 backbeat present that made late 80's and early 90's hip-hop and new wave popular. That would be great then but it is a new millennium. The tune itself holds up very well with a hint of an Ennio Morricone spaghetti western guitar riff and accompanying organ and background brass.
Lafayette Afro Rock Band's 'Hihache' and The Oneness of Juju's Every Way But Loose are also featured on this sampler. Hihache is reminiscent of classic soundtrack material you would find in blaxploitation films of the 70's complete with the wa-wa guitar and the high brass. The Oneness of Juju, which I recently reviewed a few months back, is a great introduction to those who are looking to take another trip. This is a great introductory showcase Juju track that combines funk, disco, and a bit of jazz.