Con Funk Shun - Confunkshunizeya [Robin Songs/ Cherry Red - 2020]The wonderful named Con Funk Shun were a seven-piece group from northern Californian, who between the mid-1970s and late 1980s pumped out funk, disco, R&B and more mellowed-out soul-funk. Confunkshunizeya is a two-CD disc anthology of the group’s recordings- bringing together thirty-two tracks from between the years 1976 and 1988, and while their sound was fairly derivative/ not that distinct- they knew how to groove & swoon with best of them- meaning if you dig 70’s/ 80’s funk/ soul-funk you’ll be wanting to snap this up
This recent double CD release appears on Robin songs, Cherry Reds funk/ soul reissuing sub-label. The CD’s come presented in the form of a clear double slimline jewel case- this features a colourful & glossy twelve-page inlay booklet, which takes in a new five-page write about the band & their legacy by Mojo & Record Collector writer Charles Waring, as well as band promo pictures, and single labels/ covers.
The origins of Con Funk Shun go back to 1969 in Vallejo, California when high school buddies Louis A. McCall Sr. (drums/percussion/vocals) and Michael Cooper (rhythm guitar/lead vocals) got together to form Project Soul. Added to the line-up fairly soon was bassist Cedric Martin, keyboardist Danny "Sweet Man" Thomas, trumpeter Karl Fuller, and woodwinds player Paul "Maceo" Harrell- with lead vocalist /multi-instrumentalist Felton Pilate been added to the line-up in due course too. By 1971 the seven-piece switched their name to the more playful/ fitting Con-Funk- Shun( though later dropped the hyphens). Releasing their debut album Organized Con Funk Shun in 1973 on Fretone Records. By 1976 the band got signed to Mercury Records- and this is the period where all the material on this CD set comes from- with the band putting out eleven albums for the label between 1976 & 1986.
As every good anthology/ compilation should do this collection follows chronologically the bands output. We kick-off on the first disc with the bands 1976 track “Sure Feel Good To Me”- here we find a tight & strutting funk guitar line, wrapped with jiving-to-rising horns,& topped with chanted-to- sweetly high male vocals. As we move on through this first disc we come to the slower ‘n’ swooning soul-funk of 1977’s “DooWhaChaWannaDoo” with its nice sailing & wailing horn swings, and layered vocals. Later we come to slap bass bounce & tight vocal tick chant of 1979’s “Chase Me”, onto soaring guitar tipped soul-funk mellowness & rising vocals of “Let Me Put Love In Your mind”, and the cheeky ‘n’ scabbing funk guitar, tick-tocking percussion of 1980’s "Lady’s Wild". Within all this first disc taking in seventy-three minutes of music.
Moving onto the second disc & well get another seventeen tracks, and seventy-five minutes worth of music. Here we go from the squelching synth bass & swing horn work of “Happy Face”, onto the slowed groove swing & swoon of “By Your Side” – which are both from 1980. As we move on we come to electro snapping beats, chugging funk guitars and the tight horns of 1981’s “Body Lovers”- which features some neat touches of vocoder here & there. Though to the tacky tick-tocking beats, cutie harmonic guitar struts, and soulful keys/ swooning male vocals of 1983’s “Baby I’m Hooked(Right Into Your Love), with the collection been finished off with the sleek & up-beat synth slightly funked soul pop of 1988’s “Burning Love”.
Confunkshunizeya certainly works as a good overview of Con Funk Shun during their major label period- with a good blend of upbeat-to-grooving songcraft, sitting alongside more mellowed & swooned fare. As I mentioned in my introduction the band were not really breaking any new or distinctive ground, really always been followers instead of leaders- but if you enjoy all things funk & soul bound from between the ’70s and 80’s I think you’ll most certainly get a buzz from this two-disc set.Roger Batty