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Bay Area Funk II

by Various Artists

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about

We searched harder and dug heavier for tracks on this second volume of the Bay Area Funk series. As with Volume One the musical spectrum spans from raw funk to gritty soul. This is the 50th release for Luv N'Haight records. Since 1990 we have been re-issuing rare and essential soul, funk and jazz records. We do this legally by finding the original artists. Our 50th release returns us to the Bay Area where the label began. Luv N'Haight was born out of the Groove Merchant record store on Haight Street in San Francisco and paved the way for the mother-label, Ubiquity records.

The tunes featured here were part of the soundtrack to the San Francisco Bay Area soul and funk underground from the late 1960s through the mid 1970s. While local guys Sly Stone and Tower of Power were selling millions of records a network of groups were doing their own thing, playing gigs in local bars and releasing music often on their own dime. Amongst the rarities and underground hits on Bay Area Funk II are stories of varied success and failure. Some acts only released one single, while others are certified legends who continue to perform. The original records compiled here are becoming harder, some near impossible, to find. So we’re proud to offer this second volume in a series that aims to preserve the best of the Bay. Fortunately, the more we had to dig the more music we uncovered. 50 releases on and we’re still mining a bottomless pit of music treasures, unique characters and amazing stories in our own back yard.

Ray Camacho has recorded over 600 tracks and played for royalty and two leper colonies. Hailing from the city of Vallejo, Project Soul went on to become the hugely popular band ConFunkShun. “Ebony” is a private-label holy grail 7" from their very early days. Mike Selesia's band apparently ate LSD-laced Tootsie Rolls before recording, or were they just smoking pot? The band members can’t seem to remember the same story but either way Selesia was playing two saxophones at once by the time they recorded “Brute Force”.

Sacramento born Mary Love released “Born to Live with Heartache” in 1971 on the Elco Records label out of her home town. Love also recorded a tune for the Rudy Ray Moore movie Petey Wheatstraw and released a single on the Josie label. Her repertoire has always been big on the Northern Soul scene, but “Born to Live with Heartache” shows that Love also had a super funky side. Southern Californian Faye Marshall spent time up in the Bay Area recording her tune with local funk legend, and BAF Vol 1 artist, Marvin Holmes. Taken from the only single released by Soft Touch, “Plenty Action” is, according to band member Vernon Roberts, “A message to the man to leave those women alone! If they don’t want it - then don’t bother them.” Early on in their career, the members of Soft Touch played with the Black Panthers prior to the Lumpen becoming the Panthers main band.

The SF TKOs, led by ex-KSOL Program Director Herm Henry, only released one Bay Area 7” single. Curiously “Acid Lady” was only released in New Zealand in 1973 where it was licensed as the B-Side of “Herm” (which was featured on the first Bay Area Funk compilation) to Ode Records. During the life of the TKOs band members included musicians from Sly Stone’s band, Chinese-Americans, and a 12 year old drummer who had to be escorted to the bands performances by his mom.

Bass player Ted Wysinger wrote “Devils on the Run” for the Uptights Band. Prior to The Uptights, Wysinger had been a member of the SF TKO’s, The Stone Souls Band (with Sly’s brother Freddie), and with Rodger Collins Band who’s “Foxy Girls In Oakland” appears on Bay Area Funk I. The Uptights band make an appearance in the The Mack, filmed in Oakland, alongside The Sisters Love.

These tasty rarities and treats appear alongside tracks by Primevil, Dawn and Sunset, The Windjammers, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Little Denise, one-time James Brown drummer Victor Green and more.

The Bay Area was, and still is, a melting pot of cultures and sounds. The funk scene in San Francisco and surrounding areas reflects that eclectic vibe as artists incorporated rock, Latin, and blues influences into their work. The following except is taken from the liner notes to Bay Area Funk and sets the tone for the comp. It’s written by journalist Lee Hildebrand who was a publicist in the Bay Area through the best of the funk days.

“Before the disco craze, when most club owners discovered that it was cheaper to hire DJs to spin records than to employ live bands, a network of clubs kept musicians in steady work. The Dynamic Four, who earlier had backed Jesse James at the McKesmo Club in Richmond, were the house band at the Safari Room in San Jose during the early ‘70s and supported Frankie Lee, Irma Thomas, and other vocalists five nights per week during engagements that lasted for months. The Whispers were regulars at the Dragon A Go Go, a club in San Francisco’s Chinatown operated by Louis Chinn, who later hooked up with Don Cornelius and Dick Griffey to open the Soul Train Club in North Beach. Sly and the Family Stone played early gigs at Little Bo Peeps on San Francisco’s Mission Street, which boxer, bandleader, and KSOL DJ Herman Henry later ran as the Ghetto Club. Pioneering African-American basketball star and radio DJ Don Barksdale operated two thriving Oakland soul clubs, the Showcase (where scenes for the motion picture The Mack were filmed at an actual pimp’s convention) and the Sportsman. Eugene Blacknell, Odia Coates, the Pointer Sisters, and even Muddy Waters appeared at Al’s House of Smiles, an East Oakland cocktail lounge where the tiny bandstand was high above the audience.”

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released October 29, 2015

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