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Soul Express CD Review

United We Funk

US Major Label Records, 2000
UWF ALL-STARS feat ROGER TROUTMAN - Party Time (Bounce Mix) / THE SOS BAND - Girls Night Out / CONFUNKSHUN - Shake It Easy / THE DAZZ BAND - She's My Lady / THE GAP BAND - Messin' With My Flow / THE SOS BAND - Who Do You Tell / THE BAR-KAYS - The Way You Shake / UWF ALL-STARS feat ROGER TROUTMAN - Nothin' But A Party / THE DAZZ BAND - It's Not Unusual / THE SYSTEM - Hello / RICK JAMES - Table Dance / CONFUNKSHUN - You Can Lean On Me / THE SOS BAND - Hold On / CONFUNKSHUN - I Used To Be The One
This CD was by all accounts released in 2000, but I had not discovered this until I hit CD Baby a few weeks ago. I was not aware of this album and after listening to the sound samples I was very much in eagerness for payday! Lovers of recent albums from Johnson & Branson, Zapp, The Bar-Kays and Michael Cooper will definitely want this album of mainly uptempo funky grooves. Let's not beat about the biush - this CD is unashamedly 'party' and is a clarion call for all feet to crank into motion onto the dancefloor.

Again, the established artists show the kiddies who really run the show, and they mean business. You will already know some tracks. The Dazz Band appear with "She's My Lady" which appeared on their 2001 / 2004 reissued "Time Traveler" CD; The System's superb " Hello" can be found on their "ESP" album and the track attributed to The Gap Band, "Messin' With My Flow", can be found ontheir 1999 effort, "Funkin' Til 2000 Comz". It's great to hear these again, but the real mouth waterers were the songs I had NOT heard.

The late, great, and sorely missed Roger Troutman adds his skill and talkbox to a number of songs commencing with the ultra-Zapp inspired "Party Time". Sounding very much like "More Bounce To The Ounce" complete with freaky noises this great rumpshaker features all the artists; The Gap Band and Mary Davis from The SOS Band join forces with The Dazz Band to make an irresistible party groove. I dare you not to love this fun dancefloor number. Funky or what?! The SOS Band come back with their best work since "One Of Many Nights" with the modern stepper, "Girls Night Out" which is very 80s yet very 21st Century at the same time. OK, the lyrics are a tad clichéd and trite but the groove is right and isn't it great to hear new jams from classic groups?

This was adequate for me, but boy was I blown away the SUPERB funker from Confunkshun which features Michael Cooper, Felton Pilate and the gang reunited, horns and all, to create some real noise. This is just blinding, and the vibe is definately 80s with a hint of today, and the slap guitar and horns really give this track more edge that a razor blade. If you took heed of my recent review of the Barkays' recent CD, "The Real Thing", then you will love this bass-pin rumbler that begs to be blasted out as loud as possible.

Roger returns to the vocoder on the happy "Nuthin' But A Party" on which Charlie Wilson lays down his stuff. Very good indeed! The Dazz Band's "It's Not Unusual" starts of very promising but sadly degenerates into a "na na na naaa" type of chorus that reminds me of some hideous 80s pop record that I do not want to recall! The late Rick James appears but once on the typically flamouyant slice of P-Funk demanding a table dance from his "little cutie". He sounds as great as ever on here but this does not compare to the material that has yet to be released. Now that is tasty!

Confunkshun's "You Can Lean On Me" is an excellent and typically stylish ballad which should not disappoint fans one iota. Another more relaxed effort is from The SOS Band and is a real winner. The spasmodic beats and the trumpet combined with Mary Davis' vocals really gel well. I really hope that we hear more from the SOS band in 2005. The CD closes in a SUPERB manner with the ESSENTIAL Confunksun track, "I Used To Be The One". This is as good as anything you'll find on their "Burnin' Love" album. To know that the band are back together in 2005 a nd embarking on a tour and possibly new material is something I am truly thankful for. I am very relieved to have found this CD and have it in my collection. It does, after all, contain the last recorded efforts by two GIANTS of black music, Roger Troutman and Rick James. That alone makes this CD worth a purchase. This comes highly recommended and needless to say I am playing this to death at home and in the car. It reminds me in a very melancholic way of the days when stuff of this high standard was released all the time. Sad that things changed, isn’t it? Grab a listen on CD Baby - there's also a live set on CD as well for those who like live albums. ESSENTIAL.
- Barry Towler

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