Monday, 1 March 2010

Various Artists - Bob Blank: The Blank Tapes NYC 1975-1985 - 2010

Bob Blank was one of the most prolific producers in New York City and this set pays homage to his independent studio, the 'Blank Tapes' that created a real hotbed of creating in the decade between 1975 and 1985. A master of the disco sound, Bob had already worked with groups such as Musique, Inner Life, Instant Funk and the legendary Salsoul Orchestra. His pedigree, therefore, should not be questioned. I think you'll want this album for more than a few songs and all are gloriously uplifting dance numbers that sweep aside the pathetic, negative chundering grooves flooding out of New York. Track one is the perfect opening song for this CD...bubbly, positive, soul-satisfying and joyously uplifting. Debby Blackwell's "Once You Got Me Going" is BRILLIANT. I have not heard this song for years and to own it on CD is a dream come true. The recent movement worldwide by young, hip artists to pay homage to this sound vindicates the work of past masters such as Bob Blank, Leroy Burgess and Darryl Payne. Quality will always be with us, and this song will, for me, remain a timeless example of 80s dance that time cannot wither. As an aside, listening to the melody, one wonders whether Michael Jackson 'borrowed' the melody for his huge hit "Wanna Be Startin' Something"...or maybe it's just me?!

Included here is the very first track laid down at the Blank tapes, Milton Hamilton's "Crystalized". A lovely, warm sashaying slice of mid 70s niceness with plenty of acoustic guitar and horns and predates A Taste Of Honey by a number of years. Sun Ra need no introduction, and the funky instrumental "Where Pathways Meet" is packed wall to wall with horns, enough to make Tower of Power blush! A seriously strong track, this had to be included on this album. A serious omission otherwise! John Morales' mix of Mikki's "Itching For Love" is another worthwhile inclusion that has every fibre of my 80s-loving self delighting. The same can be said about Fonda Rae's classic "Over Like A Fat Rat" - another classic that stands the test of time. Gladys Knight - one of THE voices of our time - stepped into the studio with Bob and laid down the superb stepper "It's A Better Than Good Time", included here is the Walter Gibbons mix. If only this Great lady would turn her talents to this type of groove today...come on...Joey Negro...anyone out there listening????? My final choice is the Robbie Vincent favourite "Wax The Van" by Lola - a track that saw the light of day late in 1987 of the short-lived Syncopate label. A song that I never really bonded with then...but have hence grown to like. So, thanks you, Strut for a great little compilation!

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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