THE NITE-LITERS: ‘A-nal-y-sis’ (Label: Dusty Groove America)

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THE NITE-LITERS: 'A-nal-y-sis'

The genealogy of the Kentucky funk group, the Nite-Liters, is a rather confusing and convoluted one, to say the least, but basically they were the instrumental backing group for The New Birth, a seventeen-member collective masterminded by former Moonglow member and ex-Motown producer, Harvey Fuqua. Originally formed in 1963 in Louisville, the Nite-Liters – whose line up experienced myriad incarnations over the years – came to the attention of Fuqua in 1969, and through his influence, they got an album deal with RCA. The Nite-Liters’ brand of earthy, soul-infused instrumental funk got them noticed and in the early ’70s they notched up US R&B chart hits with the 45s ‘K-Jee’ and ‘Afro-Strut.’ In 1973 they went in the studio with Fuqua at the helm to record what would turn out to be their fifth and final long player for RCA, ‘A-nal-y-sis.’ Just reissued for the first time on CD by Chicago’s excellent Dusty Groove label, ‘A-nal-y-sis’ proves to be a cornucopia of lost funky gems. Many cult soul and funk albums from the same era are usually collectable for just one or two cuts, but ‘A-nal-y-sis’ is packed with good stuff. It kicks off with the infectious ‘Serenade For A Jive Turkey,’ a heavy slab of visceral funk propelled by scything guitars and laced with a jabbing, Maceo-like sax solo. Only one of two cuts with vocals – a chanted chorus and bebop-like wordless vocal riffs – it also has strong jazz overtones, exemplified by a swing-style bridge section that features a walking bass line. By contrast, ‘Anything Goes’ is a mellower funk groove riding on bubbling clavinet while ‘The Happy Hooker’ is a superb slice of head-nodding funk where a mellow fender Rhodes piano duels with churchy Hammond B3 organ. ‘Craaaashing’ is another groovy cut highlighting the Nite-Liters ace brass section. Also noteworthy is the band’s reconfiguration of Donny Hathaway’s ‘Valdez In The Country,’ though in terms of its arrangement, it doesn’t deviate much from the original. If you’re a funk fanatic, though, you’ll need to get this great little album a.s.a.p.
(CW) 4/5