Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Livin' It Up

Were you into jazz funk? Were you white socks and soul slippers? Did you groove to D-Train's You're The One For Me or Rodney Franklin's The Groove in a shiny grey suit with little chain over your tie?

Me neither,. Well, not as such. But back in '81/'82 there were plenty who did. This particular genre of music reminds me very much of that time. I was living with some relatives for six months while I finished off at the local college from Jan to June 82 while I waited to go off to sixth form boarding school. My cousin was at home and she was four years older than me. She was always out going to discos - never clubs - with her moustachied soulboy boyfriend Ashley, and from her room was an endless stream of funk, but usually Let's Groove by Earth, Wind & Fire or Kool & The Gang's Get Down On It.

Obviously I loathed all this. It was DEEPLY untrendy. From my room it was Japan, Human League, whatever The Face told me I should be listening to and the David Jensen show while I did my homework. I did rifle her record collection for things like Bryan Ferry's Let's Stick Together and Fox's S-S-S-Single Bed, and even a bit of Jethro Tull's Living In The Past, but she wasn't living in the past, she was out strutting her funky stuff to Shakatak and she never looked back.

Thing is, where I grew up, discos played disco songs. You had to go further afield to get specialist and at that time I didn't dare. I remember going all the way to Windsor once on a coach with some friends to see someone's brother and his band Funktion (!) play at a club there. It was a sea of shiny smart casualwear, lots of grey, lots of Modern Romance hairdos and would be Anthony Price suits, girls dancing around handbags in mint green and shocking pink, all getting down to the band. Then the disco started and we were all doing The Chinese Way whether we liked it or not.

My two abiding memories of that night are 1) being so desperate for the loo on the coach on the way there that I considered just doing it there and then in front of everyone; and 2) having my grey jacket stolen. I got it back week's later, but the moment had passed.

Anyhoo, it's only now when I hear such a thing that I can feel a warm affection for this stuff. Where I once would leave a room when Shakatak played I'm all over Easier Said Than Done, and Level 42 can slap their bass at my house any time they like.


Cocktails said...

Having clearly missed this part of the 80s culture wars, I've never quite understood what is so bad about well, 80s soul/funk. I've got a few compilations of the likes of Loose Ends, Skipworth & Turner, Crown Heights Affair etc. and most of it is damn good.


Five-Centres said...

I recently discovered that song, Cocktails. Don't recall it at the time, but it's a winner.

Ishouldbeworking said...

Jazz Funk was almost a religion in the East London/Essex hinterland where I grew up. I absolutely hated it. All those beer boys in espadrilles flicking their wedges, and the girls wearing strings of beads worn diagonally across their torsos. And that horrible, faux-cheery music. To me it was the sound of poverty of ambition and imagination.

A diary entry from 1980 reads "Terrible party in Manor Park. Shit George Benson doobie-doobie-doo music, and got followed around by some bloke called Glen who wanted to take me to a Grover Washington Jnr concert.' Fat chance he had.

I never mellowed toward it. I gave Shakatak's 1983 offering such a scathing review for the radio station in 'interned' on, that the producer told me off. I'd do the same today though.

Valentine Suicide said...

You scoundrel. I'll have nightmares.

Cocktails said...

Good to see that the culture wars are still alive and well!