Recently, I have been delighted to see the synthesizer-heavy funk, soul and R&B of the 1980s finally receiving the love and respect it deserves. This is due in no small part to the tireless work of fantastic artists such as Dâm-Funk and San Serac, and popular US club nights such as Dâm’s legendary Funkmosphere in LA and San Francisco’s Sweaterfunk. The influence of this once-derided and maligned musical era can even be heard in the edgy and ultra-modern electronic sounds of Hudson Mohawke and the Hyperdub label.
Basically, what is often described as “80s boogie” can loosely be summed up as the club music that followed Disco, but preceded both the emergence of House and the late ’80s/early ’90s merging of Hip Hop and R&B that has persisted to this day. This music is perhaps most immediately notable for its heavy use of the new synthesizer technology that had only recently become widely available and affordable. It is actually this very facet that has both led to much of this music being dismissed as “robotic” and “soulless” in the past, and also to its recent rediscovery and enthusiastic reappropriation by a new generation of artists.
I can pinpoint the beginning of my own love affair with this music (which I knew as “80s groove” thanks to the legendary and pioneering Mastercuts compilations of the time) very precisely to the 22nd of November, 1997, when the then Vibe FM first came on the air in Cambridge. It sadly did not take long for this station to become just another local dance / “urban” broadcaster (and it is fact now part of the famous Kiss network). However, when Vibe FM first appeared, it was quite a revelation for me to hear DJs such as Busta Brooker, Adi Linton and Just Glynn spinning these forgotten hits of the 80s alongside the more acceptable end of contemporary club music. Around this time, I had long been consumed by an all-encompassing Prince obsession, and I was influenced by the station to investigate all the various offshoots of the Minneapolis scene (with the productions of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis exerting a particularly strong hold over me).
Anyway, here is a small selection of some of my favourite tunes from this period. There is probably nothing here that serious fans will not have heard a million times before, but I will leave the proper crate-digging to true experts such as Bentleyfunk and Funk Classic Master. OK, well, hope you enjoy it, and keep the groove alive!
- S.O.S. Band – For Your Love
- Royalle Delite – (I’ll Be A) Freak For You
- Midnight Star – Midas Touch
- Rebbie Jackson – Centipede
- Haywoode – Single Handed
- Zapp & Roger – Computer Love
- Krystol – After The Dance Is Through
(Listen here, as I can’t get the Mixcloud widget to work at the moment)