I can't claim much specialist knowledge on the world of 1970s US funk and disco, but then, that's what attracted me to these releases in the first place. When I saw the cool, retro styled covers of these Backbeats compilations they looked like a great way to educate and enlighten myself about various scenes of 1970s American pop culture that had hitherto passed me by.
I'm a bit of a collector too, and my record collection wouldn't feel complete without these niches covered; the fact that the packaging for each has been so lovingly designed as a tribute to the subject matter makes them a welcome addition too. Of course, as the designs allude to, the artwork should rightly be wrapped around a big, heavy chunk of black vinyl but you can't have everything, can you?
Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah the New York disco collection doesn't boast any names that jumped out at me at first glance so as I scanned the names of Eddie Holman, Lucy Hawkins, Loleatta Holloway I didn't know what I was going to get. I'd got this far on blind faith, and my theory that generally speaking you can judge an album by its cover. Turns out I was right.
There are 11 tracks on Yowsah, but with an average length up around 6-7 minutes, there's well over an hour of highly danceable disco material for your money. Highlights are Lucy Hawkins' Gotta Get Outta Here, a taut, funky, sax-laden work out, and Keep on Dancin' by Gary's Gang, with it's early electronic beats and bloops sending out a call to boogie.
Philly Freedom switches focus from New York to Philladelphia, and the smooth 'Philly sound' that emanated from the city throughout the 70s. It also features a few names that were a bit more familiar to me, Archie Bell and the Drells, and Teddy Pendergrass chief among them.
The cool melodies on tracks like The Delfonics' I Told You So, or The Trammps' Trusting Heart are the real strength of this album. And throw in Pendergrass' rousing tour de force The More I Get The More I Want, you are looking at a seriously good collection of music. Music so essential, it sounds like it has always existed, and always will.
I'd recommend both of these albums to newcomers like me, there's sure to be something there that you will find to love on one or the other. For me the laid-back Philadelphia soul on Philly Freedom was more to my taste, but Yowsah has it's moments too that make it well worth the price tag. There's a large back catalogue of Backbeat compilations like these to check out as well, all bursting with soul, funk and disco classics, and lesser known cuts for you to discover. They are all available on Amazon for a bargain basement price of £4.99, and I for one intend to check out a few more of them in the future.
Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah: 73%
Philly Freedom: 86%