Roots was yet another studio band who worked for the production music library company Music De Wolfe and it’s sublabel Rouge Music. They recorded several albums, so this time we’re not talking about a one off band. Their 1982 released album was called Pussyfooting and what you can expect from the year, it was pretty much disco oriented. All the tracks were composed by the well known library composer duo Chris Rae and Frank McDonald.
The album is described as modern group moods featuring electric piano and brass. It starts with midtempo disco funk jam “On the job” with funky beats but a slightly cheesy saxophone. Next up is “Gringo”, the type of disco that doesn’t move me that much. It’s followed by a midtempo disco track “Human spirit” with a hint of reggae on it’s beat. Then comes another uptempo disco take, the title track “Pussyfooting”. Next up is a cosmic disco track “The force”. The elctro funk sounding “Borderline” ends the side a. It could’ve been a great track if there wasn’t this annoying synth ruining the song. B-side starts with a nice disco-funk track “Grafter”. It’s among the best songs on this albums. It’s followed by a percussive uptempo “Jackpot” with a strong Love boat feeling and a hint of some jazzfunk sounds. Next is mellow downtempo “Happy event” followed by jazzy midtempo disco track “Happy hour”. After them comes the standout track, almost five minute long banging uptempo disco funk cut “Party people” with a nice long percussion break and catchy horns. Then comes another dull uptempo disco track “Fun house”. Dark, heavy and spacy electrofunk track “Cliffedge” finally ends the album. Pussyfooting is maybe not a great album as a whole but at least there’s one really great track worth buying the album for that track only and several good and decent tracks to follow.
1931 born Tatsuya Takahashi (real name Tatsuro Takahashi) is one of the most well known band leaders in Japan, and a very talented tenor saxophonist as well. Takahashi started his career in 1961 and after years of hard work, he moved to Tokyo and became the fourth bandleader of the Tokyo based big band called Tokyo Union in 1966. That was the point when the band was really starting to gain reputation and become a big name in the scene. In that point their name was also settled as Tatsuya Takahashi & Tokyo Union. Basically they were a strict jazz band, but they did some pretty good soundtrack scores too. Seems that along anime, the Japanese people had also a very strong thing to detective series throughout the 1970s and 1980s. (kinda same way as the Germans in the 1980s). So it was kind of natural, that Tatsuya Takahashi & Tokyo Union did their share of the soundtrack albums to several different detective series. Among these was a soundtrack to the series called Seibu Keisatsu Part II (literally Western Police). Actually they did more than one of these albums, but we’ll talk about this one particular now. Seibu Keisatsu was a detective drama series that was running from 1979 until 1984, with total of three seasons. Part II and Part III (seasons two and three) soundtracks were mainly played by Tatsuya Takahashi & Tokyo Union, while the Part I (season one) was by The Hornets. As expected, the soundtrack music varies from dramatic themes and mellow moods to some funky jazz and hectic chase funk.
The opening track “ワンダフル・ガイズ ～ TVサイズ” (Wandafuru gaizu ~ TV saizu) starts the album with the known quality of the Tokyo Union, it’s a typical uptempo detective theme with some disco feel in it. “ワンダフル・ガイズ ～ フルサイズ” (Wandafuru gaizu ~ furusaizu) is a full version of the same track, while the first was a shortened one fitted for television. Next one, “気分は最高” (Kibun wa saikō), instead is a very mellow and kinda sad track. Then comes “デンジャラス・チェイス” (Denjarasu cheisu). The name means dangerous chase, but it’s still a very nice midtempo jazz track in a Tokyo Union way, not a hectic chase theme. “ハッピー・ボーイ” (Happī bōi) is just what the name happy boy stands for. An happy but short track with a certain circus feel. Then comes two sad mellow tracks, “トワイライト・ストーリー” (Towairaito sutōrī) and “ロンリー・ポリスマン” (Ronrī porisuman). Well with the names like twilight story and lonely policeman, what else they can be. The last track on side a called “ジャングル・ヒーロー” (Janguru hīrō) is a killer uptempo chase theme with some percussion works, nice melodies and occasional guitarwork. The first track on side b is “パトカー・コンボイ” (Patokā konboi), again a quite nice uptempo detective theme but the cheesy disco feel gives it a little minus. After a mellow “ダーティー・ヒーロー” (Dātī hīrō) comes “スーパー・チェイサー” (Sūpā cheisā), the best track on the album. It’s a very blaxploitation-like uptempo chase funk track but with again some cheesyness. With a name like super chaser, what else you actually expect but a chase track. Too bad it’s a quite short one. Again there’s a one mellow drama song “哀愁のエアポート” (Aishū no eapōto) before we get to another uptempo track. “サラブレッド” (Sarabureddo) has some slightly annoying guitarwork, but despite that it’s a very nice one. And the same order continues to the end. First mellow and dramatic “友情” (Yūjō), then uptempo discoish “軍団マーチ” (Gundan māchi) and last one “サンセット・ハーバー” (Sansetto hābā) is again a downtempo drama track. Overall Tatsuaya Takahashi & Tokyo Union did their job quite well as this is a very decent soundtrack among the countless others that came from Japan during the 1970s and 1980s.
The story of the Italian disco group Traks goes back in the early 1970s when Aax Donnell (born Aurelio Donninelli) and brothers Paul and Peter Micioni were all working as disc jockeys. In 1974 Aax and Paul met in the town of Alba Adriatica and immediately became friends. Meanwhile few years later brothers Micioni had their first recording experiences with the group Easy Going - a brainchild of Giancarlo Meo and Claudio Simonetti. In the early 1980s Aax Donnell started to plan a more dancefloor friendly remake of a regular piece of all of their dj sets, a Doobie Brothers hit “Long train running”. On this project along with vocalist Aax Donnell there was drummer Marian Savati, bassist Pino Santamaria and the former Goblin drummer Walter Martino on percussion. When the track officially released as a part of their Long train runnin’ album the ‘official’ Traks was a little different with it’s line-up - Aax Donnell still on vocals, Paul Micioni on guitar, Peter Micioni on bass and Marian Savati on drums. The band was active only few years releasing two albums and a couple of singles before they broke up.
Basically there’s only four different songs on this album. The mentioned “Long train running”, a seven minute straight up disco beat monster with a long percussion break. There’s also a song called “Short train running”, which is basically just a short version of the song. Another train themed track is “Love train”, a downtempo pluck bass eighties funk jam. “Driving here on Broadway” is an uptempo eighties funk track in a strong funkstyles way. Last track to mention is “Drums power”. There’s more uptempo part 1, that is a better one, but only 53 seconds long. Part 2 is four and half minutes but has a slower pace.
Even Stax did their Cristmas album. Or what was left from Stax. The famous Memphis soul label was collapsed and bankcupted in 1975. In 1977 Fantasy bought the rights to the master tapes and unreleased material of Stax and its subsidiary Volt. Fantasy kept the label alive by reissuing the Stax catalog and releasing unrelased songs. This album therefore is basically a compilation of existing and unreleased Christmas songs from the vaults of Stax records.
Whatever the story behind this album is and despite the late release date, it’s one of the best funky Christmas albums ever made. It’s a great mixture from mellow and groovy soul to some naughty funk tracks. Tunes include some original compositions and some new renditions of old Christmas standards - all done with the famous Memphis soul twist. One of the most mellow is Isaac Hayes‘ wail of loneliness in “The mistletoe and me”. There’s some other bluesy soul tracks to mention too. “Please come home for Christmas” by Little Johnny Taylor, “Who took the merry out of Christmas?” by Staple Singers, “It’s Christmas time again (the Christmas song)” by The Temprees and “What do the lonely do at Christmas?” by The Emotions are all nice mellow soul stuff. Real standout tracks in this album are however the raunchy adult songs, “I’ll be your Santa, baby” by Rufus Thomas and “Santa Claus wants some lovin’” by both Mack Rice and Albert King. All suitable for dancefloors when slightly pitched up. This one’s also really easy to find, pick it up without hesitation!