Friday, 29 June 2018

"Con Funk Shun [1976]/Secrets [1977]" by CON FUNK SHUN (March 2013 Cherry Red/Robinsongs Reissue - 2LPs Remastered onto 1CD) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Music Is The Way..."

What you get here is two CON FUNK SHUN vinyl albums from the band's outset plus one 12" single as a bonus track lumped together onto one remastered CD (for the first time). This is the 1st release in Robinsongs complete catalogue reissue series for an American Soul/Funk band that rivalled Earth Wind & Fire in terms of sheer chart success and affection (see below). Here are the Ffun details...

UK released March 2013 - "Con Funk Shun/Secrets" by CON FUNK SHUN on Cherry Red/Robinsongs CDMRED 555 (Barcode 5013929155534) offers 2LPs from 1976 and 1977 Remastered onto 1CD plus One Bonus Track and pans out as follows (76:43 minutes):

1. Music Is The Way [Side 1]
2. Tell Me That You Like Me
3. Never Be The Same
4. Owe It To Myself
5. Foley Park
6. Nothing To Lose By Trying [Side 2]
7. Forever Just Ain't Long Enough
8. Another World
9. Sho' Feels Good To Me
Tracks 1 to 9 are their debut vinyl album "Con Funk Shun" - released 1976 in the USA on Mercury SRM-1-1120 (no UK release).

10. DooWhaChaWannaDoo [Side 1]
11. Who Has The Time
12. Indian Summer Love (Interlude)
13. Tears In My Eyes
14. Secrets [Side 2]
15. Ffun
16. ConFunkShunizeYa
17. I'll Set You Out O.K.
18. Indian Summer Love (instrumental)
Tracks 10 to 18 are their 2nd vinyl album "Candy" - released September 1977 in the USA on Mercury SRM-1-1180 and December 1977 in the UK on Mercury 9100 043. The album rose to Number 6 on the USA R&B Album Charts.

19. Ffun (12" Version) (1977 USA 12" Promo Single on Mercury)

The 16-page booklet pictures rare American 7" singles on Mercury, album artwork, LP label repros and also features a detailed and affectionate history of the band and their first two albums by noted American writer and DJ - RICO WASHINGTON. Long-standing remaster Engineer ALAN WILSON has done the transfers (as he did with other issues) - and because the albums were superbly produced in the first place - that has passed over to the remasters. These things boogie and sound just great.

The emphasis is on Soul Funk ala Earth, Wind & Fire, Graham Central Station, Kool & The Gang and even The Commodores with smoochy ballads inbetween all that booty shuffling. The debut album opens with the slap-bass of "Music Is The Way" - a tune that tries hard but is just a little too fast and busy for its own good (even if the audio is superb). Better is the slinky groove of "Tell Me That You Like It" - a guitar groove that would fill dancefloors today. "Owe It To Myself" is a very Hall & Oates groove while "Nothing To Lose By Trying" is a very AWB and while the smoocher "Another World" is loverman TP - it ends on the way forward - the funkily cool "Sho' Feels Good To Me".

Their persistence paid off as the second album was a massive leap forward - and the public thought so too by putting it up to Number 6 on the American R&B album charts (an impressive position for a new band). It helped that the single "Ffun" went to Number 1 on the R&B charts in November 1977 - giving big funky brassy tracks like "ConFunkShunize Ya" (the second single) a Number 31 showing on the charts. The instrumental "Indian Summer Love" is very George Benson circa "Livin' Inside Your Love". Fans are also going to love the 12" single of "Ffun" which extends the album cut from 4:12 to 6:06 minutes - and in a really good way. To my knowledge the 12" was Promo-Only on Mercury Records and has been a long sought after rarity by DJs - so its appearance here on CD fro the first time as a bonus track is a welcome addition.

Packing great value for money (mid-price, 2 albums on 1CD plus a 12") - fans should dive in - especially given the really great upgraded sound...

PS: Other Robinsongs CD Remasters for CON FUNK SHUN include:
1. Loveshine/Candy (1978 and 1979 LPs onto 1CD - Robinsongs CDMRED 428)
2. Touch/Con Funk Shun 7/To The Max (1980, 1981 and 1982 3 x LPs + 4 Bonus 12" Single Sides onto 2CDs - Robinsongs CDBRED 519
3. Fever/Electric Lady (1983 and 1985 LPs onto 1CD - Robinsongs CDMRED 636)

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