Lately I’ve been exploring a lot of old soul and funk records that I missed back in the day. At Amoeba Records last week I came across a reissue of a song I’d heard of — and I’m sure I’d actually heard it at one point or another — and took a chance on the LP reissue since it was priced very reasonably at just $11. Funky Nassau is the album, by an unfortunately-named band called The Beginning of the End — talk about a prophetic title for a group that apparently only did this one record! But, what a great record they left behind!
From what I’ve found on the Interwebs thus far, it seems they came from the Bahamas (thus the Nassau title) and they were all about the grooves. I can imagine this is the stuff of a remix DJ’s dreams, with drum breaks galore and grooves that simply kick ass and refuse to stop. I’m reminded of a more fulfilling version of Bohannon — one of the kings of the pure groove. The difference is that while Bohannon could no doubt get you to go out on the dance floor, this stuff is built around more fully developed songs, not just endless repetitive groove.
The album has a great live sound to it; recorded in an obviously low-budget manner, it still sounds really cool and quite unlike any record I’ve heard from the period. The music is a tasty brew, reminding me of 1969-era Grateful Dead, as run through a James Brown meets War blender with a dollop of whipped Santana on top. “Pretty Girl” echoes War’s big hit with Eric Burdon from that period (“Spill the Wine”), trading in some hooks for the guitarist to have groovy solo opportunities. “When She Made Me A Promise” feels like an outtake from the first Chicago album. These are all good things, mind you — at the end of it all, the album draws from myriad inspiration, but manages to concoct its own distinct, infectious sound.
Back in the day, the album was released on appropriately obscure label — Alston Records — which was fortunately distributed by the Atco Records subsidiary of Atlantic Records. Thus it got some distribution, enabling the title track to reach #15 on the charts! It also got used in Blues Brothers 2000.
For $11, this Funky Nassau reissue is a great deal. The album is fairly thick, lovingly pressed clear green vinyl — and manufactured by Rhino, according to the sticker on the back cover — complementing the pale lime green Alston Records label perfectly. The cover is made from decently thick quality oaktag-type cardboard and looks to be a credible reprint of the original album graphics — fairly clear and good print quality.
$11? How can you not buy this one?
Heck, for $15 its worth it! Look for it at your favorite music store with the white and red sticker on it indicating colored vinyl inside (per the photo above).
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Mark Smotroff is a freelance writer and avid music collector who has worked for many years in marketing communications for the consumer electronics, pro audio and video games industries, serving clients including DTS, Sega, Sony, Sharp, AT&T and many others. Mark has written for numerous publications, including EQ Magazine, Mix Magazine, Goldmine/DISCoveries Magazine, Sound+Vision Magazine, Audiophilereview.com and HomeTechTell.com. He is also a musician / composer whose songs have been used in TV shows such as Smallville and Men In Trees as well as films and documentaries. Mark is currently rolling out a new musical he’s written. www.smotroff.com
Not surprisingly, here’s a clip of Santana playing the tune
And, seriously, is that Paul Shaffer in the white wig and dreadlocks in this Blues Brothers 2000 clip?