It was in 2018 when the BRIT FUNK ASSOCIATION launched their lovely ‘Full Circle’ album. Brit Funk Association… a new name… well, yes – but plenty of seasoned soul veterans in the line up. We learned that the funksters comprised members of Beggar and Co, Hi Tension, Central Line and Light of the World. They’d been brought together by UK soul entrepreneur Fitzroy Facey to play at a gig promoting his Soul Survivors magazine and from there things just took off.
The band’s ‘Full Circle’ album was well received but because of commitments, it’s taken two years for the Assocaition to come up with a follow up… but, take it from me, the wait has been worth it. You see, the collective’s new collection, ‘Lifted’, surpasses the quality of the debut set and, very importantly in these dark and unpredictable times, offers optimism, happiness and hope in equally generous doses.
The band’s current line up is based around the core of Kenny Wellington (trumpet), Breeze McKrieth (guitar), Paul McLean (guitar), Patrick McLean (sax), Peter Hinds (keys), Paul Phillips (guitar/vocals) and Jeff Guishard (percussion/vocals) from (variously) Beggar & Co, Incognito, Light of the World and Hi Tension. Then, helping out, there are people like David Baptiste, Rolando Domingo, Harry Brown, Billy Osborne, Ernie McKone, Jerome Harper. Patrick Clahar, Kevin Robinson and Frank Felix and between them all, they bring a wealth of experience and influences to concoct a joyous, uplifting sound.
That optimism is apparent from the starting gun with the lovely ‘Summer’ – a surging, “up”, jazzy instrumental with lashings of Benson-esque guitar and sweet horn riffing… and there’s bags more in the same vein. The title track ‘Lifted’ is a great example… music to lift us. Just the job right now! Catchiest, most accessible offering is the gorgeous ‘Smilin’’ … it will keep you doin’ just that. The 13 tracker also offers some tougher, funkier items like ‘Step On Board’ and the classic chant that is ‘This Is What We Do’ though ‘Raw Funk’ isn’t quite as funky as the title implies. The LP’s penultimate track, maybe, is probably the one that sums up the collective’s mission statement. The cut is ‘BFA’ (a self-explanatory abbreviation), but its subtitle is ‘Brighter Day’ – exactly what you’ll get tuning in to the album.
Here on ‘Lifted’ you’ll hear all kinds of goodtime flavours – the sounds of EWF, the Blackbyrds, Kool and the Gang, Donald Byrd, the Mizell brothers and many more; and, as importantly, all those great, original Brit Funk bands from whose line ups this Association is formed. Get lifted! This uplifting long player is out now on Expansion Records.