VARIOUS ARTISTS: ‘Mirage Records Soul & Funk Collection Volume One’ (Label: Funky Town Groooves)

  • Home
  • Reviews
  • VARIOUS ARTISTS: ‘Mirage Records Soul & Funk Collection Volume One’ (Label: Funky Town Groooves)
VARIOUS ARTISTS: 'Mirage Records Soul & Funk Collection Volume One'

Mirage Records was born in the summer of 1980 and was the brainchild of Jerry Greenberg, a high flying music executive who started his career as a drummer at the beginning of the 1960s in an R&B band called Jerry Green & The Passengers. Greenberg quit music in the mid-’60s to become a protégé of Atlantic Records’ producer, Jerry Wexler, and by 1974 – after working his way up through the company and gaining valuable experience at Wexler’s side – was installed as the president of the label (amazingly, he was only 32 at the time). In 1980, though, Greenberg wanted to go out on his own and set up Mirage with his brother, Bob. The label – distributed by Atlantic, of course – focused mainly on contemporary R&B and the boogie-style dance grooves that flourished in the immediate aftermath of the disco era. This excellent new compilation cherry picks the best cuts from the Mirage archives and kicks off with the long vocal version of ‘This Is For You,’ by The System, the New York techno-funk duo comprising David Frank and Mic Murphy. Probably the most soulful cut the duo ever recorded – it dates from 1985 and was the killer cut on ‘The Pleasure Seekers’ LP – the song doesn’t sound dated, despite its obvious ’80s production values. Other highlights on this album included the disco-inflected ‘Fantasy’ from the group led by drummer T.S. Monk, son of jazz legend Thelonious Monk. There’s a palpable Chic feel to ‘I Work For A Livin” by singer Fonzi Thornton, a stalwart of the Big Apple session scene – that’s not surprising as the song was penned by Chic’s dynamic duo, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, with whom Thornton regularly worked. Interestingly, Rodgers cut a solo album for Mirage in 1983 called ‘Adventures In The Land Of The Good Groove’ and from it here you’ll find the quirky, off-beat single ‘Yum-Yum.’ The Chic connection is further underlined by the inclusion of another Mirage 45, Carly Simon’s infectious dub-infused ‘Why’ from 1982 – the 12-inch vocal version is featured here. Ingram, a family group from New Jersey, is represented by ‘DJ’s Delight,’ an addictive dance floor burner from 1983 – the same year Mirage issued another combustible club track, ‘Hot Number’ by Anthony Franklin. Ballad-wise, the set includes the pleading old school knee-trembler, ‘You Ought To Be With Me,’ as recorded by Carl Weathers, who is probably best remembered for his roles in Hollywood movies (he played the boxer Apollo Creed in three of the ‘Rocky’ films). Another ear-catching slow number is ‘Things Aren’t The Same (Without You)’ attributed to First Love – it sounds reminiscent of the S.O.S. Band, which is understandable given that the song was penned by that group’s Jason Bryant. The compilation is completed by tracks from M-Zee Band (‘Bop Box’), Stroke (‘You Are The One’), and hip-hop act, The Future (‘Nuclear Holocaust’), rounding off an entertaining overview of Mirage’s R&B roster. Some anoraks might take umbrage at the omission of tracks by ’80s club queen, Shannon (who recorded some big hits for Mirage including ‘Let The Music Play’) though apparently she is lined up for the third volume in this series. All in all, though, this is a collection that should please fans of ’80s soul and funk grooves. For more information go to:
(CW) 4/5