Sugar Loaf was a small, tight funk outfit from UK. It’s sound was quite close to those great UK hammond funk acts like Mohawks, Ugly Custard or The Power Pack and of course the sound of the funky British library companies like KPM, Themes, De Wolfe and Boosey & Hawkes for example. According to the sleeve notes, they played mostly at the American air force bases to entertain the US troops located in UK during the 1960s and 1970s.
Tracks vary from downtempo, gritty Memphis-funk to uptempo Brit-funk á la Alan Hawkshaw. Songs are mostly tough and funky covers of contemporary funk and soul songs and then there’s few original compositions by the Sugar Loaf headman Tony Evans. Especially “Hard down” (written by Evans) is a top class uptempo organ driven breakbeat track. Very similar is the organ driven cover of James Brown classic “Papa’s got a brand new bag”, a very funky version too. Third one to mention is the track called “Black”. It’s credited to be made by “Jackson” and “Love“, although I have no slightest idea who they are. Maybe members of the band or something. Last example song is the instrumental version of Barbara Acklin’s “Am I the same girl” called “Soulful strut” (originally recorded with that name by The Young-Holt Unlimited) that gets here a very nice treatment. I have to say this album is a really good one from the beginning to the end. Especially if you’re a fan of British hammond funk like me.
Jörgen Petersen (RIP) was born in Randers, Denmark, in 1931. He was a very talented child and started his first band when he was only 12. By the age of 14 he was already making his living by playing trumpet as the youngest professional musician in Denmark. In 1954 he joined the Al Stefano’s orchestra, that was the most famous Latin-American music orchestra in Denmark that time. With them he visited Finland in 1956. The same time he also met his future wife and in 1957 moved to Finland for good. Petersen started to play with various bands and orchestras until he got a vacancy in the trumpet section of Radion Tanssiorkesteri (Radio Dance Orchestra) - which lasted 13 years. In 1959 he also joined the very popular Ronnie Kranckin Orkesteri (Ronnie Kranck’s Orchestra) for eight years. It didn’t take long until Petersen found himself working for PSO - Pohjoismainen Sähkö-Osakeyhtiö (Nordic Electric Ltd.), a major record label in 1960s and 1970s Finland. He was a producer, songwriter, arranger, conductor and a trumpet player - a true jack of all trades. And a very productive one too. During his whole career he participated - as a musician, writer, arranger, conductor or producer - within over 5500 recordings. And that’s really exceptional in a small country like Finland. Petersen was also the first Finn ever to score a song in a Billboard Top 100 list - although he wasn’t actually a Finn that time. It was his breakthrough song “Boulevard of broken dreams” that hit the US charts in 1961. Petersen finally took the Finnish citizenship in 1981 and remained very active character in Finnish music scene until 1987 when his doctor forbad trumpet playing from him and he withdraw himself from the publicity. Petersen passed away in 2009 at the age of 77.
During his active years, Petersen released several albums of his own too. Either as himself or with his orchestra. In 1975 he released an album called Mukana musiikki (Including the music in English). It was a typical album for him, full of instrumental covers of contemporary songs and few original compositions - all with a certain easy listening feel of his “golden trumpet”. There’s versions of songs like “Era”, “Jeannie, Jeannie”, Ding-a-dong”, “Let me be the one”, “El Bimbo” and “Emmanuel”. All quite dull easy listening numbers. The stand out songs on this album are the first three on the side b. First up is a song called “Strip-tease”, a song written by Paul Lupano (a pseudonym of song writer and lyricist Martti Piha) that was first recorded by Petersen in 1959 - although it was a pretty different version back then. “Strip-tease” is a very funky uptempo track with a quite heavy drum and percussion beat, but with slightly easy listening feel at times. Almost like the music from Nikke Knatterton series - you all remember those, right? Next up is “Itsehän sen tein” (”I did it myself”), a funky almost downtempo track with a very melancholic trumpet. The third good one is “Yli rajojen” (”Over the borders”), a bboy friendly midtempo funk track with breaks and a quite banging percussive beat. Both of the latter are written by Petersen himself. Of all his albums, Mukana musiikki is clearly the funkiest one.
The Revenge of Mr Mopoji is an action-packed Kung-Funk soundtrack by Mike Jackson and the Soul Providers Explosive Action is the result when karate dynamo Billy Wang collaborates with director fight coordinator Lee Lung in the action-packed Kung-fu extravaganza, The Revenge of Mr Mopoji With the hope of escaping a violent past, Kung-fu Master John Mopoji (Billy Wang) leaves China with his daughter Lucy (Sue Bo Chuen) in hope of a new beginning as a restauranteur in the gritty Chinatown section of Los Angeles However when he refuses to pay off Mafia crime lord Big Sal (Gordon Jones), Mopoji finds his restaurant in shambles and Lucy missing, forcing him to break his vow of peace and return to the deadly ways of the Golden Buddha Fist, an ancient form of Kung-fu taught by his former Chinese Sifu, Master Shen (Jeff Hon San) An original script that could have been born only in the mind of Kung-fu cinema veteran Marvin Meyers is brought to life by a hard-hitting original soundtrack by Mike Jackson and an all-star cast culminating in one of Sam Lung s greatest efforts The Revenge of Mr Mopoji is in the style of James Brown s Slaughter s Big Rip-off, Black Caesar, and Payback soundtracks,
This is how the back cover introduces this album, a supposed-to-be soundtrack to a mysterious, unknown Sam Lung kung fu flick from the 1970s. In real life this was the second album by the Desco Records house band The Soul Providers. It was a funk band that was founded in mid nineties by US funksters Philip Lehman and Gabriel Roth (AKA Bosco Mann) and was disbanded in 2000. Funk sister Sharon Jones singing vocals on two of the songs in their first album Tequila (1996) was indicating what was about to be happen. After the split of The Soul Providers, Roth went on to form The Dap-Kings, a long time backing band of Sharon Jones and the house band of Daptone Records.
The album is packed with tight instrumental funk numbers and is a pretty good foretaste of what Dap-Kings later was about to be - one of the leading new funk bands in the world. Tracks vary from down- and midtempo James Brown / JB’s style funk jams to uptempo floorfillers. Wah wah guitars, catchy horn stabs, funky drums is what it’s basically all about. They obviously intended to add certain kung fu feeling to the album, but the try remained a little thin. There’s even a martial arts intro on one of the tracks. Despite the fact that there is no hit songs, this album is still a great funk album overall. All the tracks are good ones on their own way and it’s always a pleasure for me to listen it through over and over again. Personally I would’ve preferred a little more bass to the sound, but I still don’t complain…
Beat and rhythm n’ blues group I pyranas was originally from France but spent most of it’s active time in Italy. When Miami born singer Rocky Roberts (who had moved to Italy to perform) separated from his backing band The airedales (who continued with their bassist Wess a the new leader), he contacted the French group Les pyranas to be his new band. Les pyranas had already released few 45s on a French label Barclay and after request from Rocky, they moved to Italy to record and perform under a name I pyranas. Together with Rocky Roberts they did total three 45s in Italy and France, and continued as an instrumental group. In 1969 their line-up consisted of André Laidli (trumpet), Albert Verrecchia (keyboards), Paul Nicolas (saxophone), André Ceccarelli (drums), Jean Claude Chavanat (guitar), Jean Costa (trombone), Christian Guisien (trombone) and Tony Bonfils (bass).
Their second album Motivi di ieri, successi di oggi was released in 1969 on an Italian RCA sublabel ARC, in a same year as their debut album Tanti successi per I pyranas. Musically they follow the same style as in their debut. Songs vary from bluesy r’n'b and soul to melancholic beat and uptempo funk and it’s all instrumental. There’s mellow downtempo groovers like “Un’ora sola ti vorrei”, there’s very bluesy stuff and then there’s uptempo beat-funk. The midtempo “Portami tante rose” sounds very much of those Italian soundtrack sounds from the same period with a slight easy listening feel. “Angeli negri” is an uptempo funky beat track with very melancholic horn melodies and it’s feelings are almost Finnish’ish. It reminds me of those funkier ones from Danish-Finnish trumpeter Jörgen Petersen. “Parlami d’amore mariu’” is also an uptempo track similar to “Angeli negri” but with more pace and less melancholy. The best track here is “Amor amor amor”, a bboy friendly funky breakbeat track with catchy horn stabs, nice organ and some percussion work.