CON FUNK SHUN: Loveshine (Label: Vinyl Masterpiece)

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CON FUNK SHUN: Loveshine

West coast funk and soul aggregation Con Funk Shun scored a US R&B chart topper with only their second single, ‘Ffun,’ lifted from their self-titled Mercury debut LP in 1977. Prior to that the septet led by guitarist/vocalist Michael Cooper – who had formed as school boy buddies in Vallejo, California – had worked as a session band in Memphis at Stax Records and also as the backing group to an act called Project Soul. ‘Loveshine’ – dating from 1978 – was the group’s second album for Mercury and now gets reissued on CD for the first time. It includes the Top 5 Stateside R&B single, ‘Shake & Dance With Me’ – a zestful, exhilarating slice of cheerful dance music featuring an infectious falsetto-voiced chorus that’s punctuated by punchy horns. Chorus-wise, the track is stylistically reminiscent of Earth, Wind & Fire – though not quite so polished. In fact, there’s quite a strong EW&F-style feel to the whole set – Cooper’s voice sounds uncannily reminiscent of Maurice White at times while falsetto singer, Felton Pilate, is a dead ringer for EW&F’s Phillip Bailey. Even so, while perhaps sounding to some listeners like a cut-price EW&F, Con Funk Shun’s sound isn’t wholly derivative and though over thirty years have passed since its release, ‘Loveshine’ is still well worth a listen. The most ear catching of the tracks are the set’s ballads – like the gentle, jazz-infused ‘Make It Last’ featuring Pilate’s expressive falsetto; and the mid-tempo title cut with its rolling mid-tempo chugging guitar – reminiscent of Ramsey Lewis’s EW&F-helmed ‘ Sun Goddess’ – which features slick interplay between voices and horns; also listen out for another classy mid-tempo groover, ‘I Think I Found The Answer,’ which wouldn’t have sounded out of place of an E,W &F album. By contrast, ‘Wanna Be There’ is a strong uptempo cut featuring a catchy hook, a great arrangement – especially the strings and horns -and oozes class. Overall, then, a very good album indeed from an underrated band that kept going right up into the late ’80s. For more info go to
(CW) 4/5