VARIOUS; The Craig Charles Funk & Show 5 (Freestyle)

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Craig Charles’ regular soul and funk compilations have become something of a permanent feature in the UK soul calendar. Now volume 5 is with us just in time for the big party season and once again the actor/DJ serves up his usual blistering mix of (largely) indie soul and funk tunes all guaranteed to crank up the optimism factor and fill floors everywhere.

The set kicks off with The Traffic’s take on Rick James’ ‘Superfreak’ (loping bass line and crazy brass) and ends with Daytoner’s funky, shuffling ‘I Get By’. In between there’s music from people like Tamika Charles, Australia’s best – Kylie Auldist, Lack Of Afro and dear old Charles Bradley – so sadly taken from us in September this year. The Bradley inclusion is the searing ‘Change For The World’, proper old school soul – passionate and challenging. Less challenging, maybe, yet still passionate and old school is Nicole Willis’ ‘Everybody Do The Watusi’. Ms Willis, like a number of her contemporaries, now works out of Europe where old school values are still respected and nurtured and even if you can’t actually do the Watusi, you won’t be able to resist the temptation to at least tap those feet. The Nightshifters’ ‘Show Me What You Got’, though a little lighter, is another clarion call to the floor. Mellower is veteran Hammond meister Brian Auger’s look at Marvin’s ‘Inner City Blues’. The tune has been covered dozens of times, of course, but it never ceases to enthral and here Auger’s jazzy B3 offers a fresh perspective on the familiar.

Different again is ‘Nawa’ from Ginger Johnson and his African Messengers. You can guess, I guess, from the billing that here we go deep into Afrobeat territory and nowt wrong with that – it sits perfectly within the confines of soul n’ funk… and that’s always one of the attractions of CC’s compilations – you always get what is says on the proverbial tin (i.e. lashings of funk and soul) but you’re always guaranteed something a little less expected to get you out of that comfort zone…. and out on the floor!

Watch out for our upcoming Craig Charles interview.

(BB) 4/5