Roll Back, Play That: Dâm-Funk
Photography: Julien Tell
By: NyAsia Burris | Published: November 1, 2018
Saint Heron presents “Roll Back, Play That,” an original series of superior musical deep cuts curated by our favorite artists of today.
On this edition of “Roll Back, Play That,” funk musician and producer Dâm-Funk gives us a blast to the past with a playlist full of new wave and synth-pop finds. Tune into the floating soundscapes on Mr. Fingers’ 1989 deep house jam “You’re Someone Special” or the groovy “I’ll Be Gone” by Slave. Learn about all of Dâm-Funk’s handpicked selects and listen to the playlist in full below.
Starshine – “All I Need Is You”
Released in 1983 on the New York Disco based label; Prelude Records, late in the record labels solid run on the dance-floors, this was a song that I discovered on a Unidisc CD compilation in the early 90’s. I used to drive from my hometown of Pasadena, Ca. to Los Angeles every weekend and dig for records. Aside from my usual haunts; Aron’s Records, Beat Non Stop & related on Melrose, sometimes I found myself at more bigger stores like Tower Records & Virgin in Hollywood. I was heavily into collecting anything on Prelude, West End & Salsoul Records at the time. When I heard this joint, it blew me away in the car. My love for lush Funk x Boogie has not faltered since. It changed my life & furthered my confidence in enjoying ‘post-disco’ / Funk known as: Boogie. Mixed by François Kevorkian (D Train, & etc.) and produced by M. Traxxx aka: Michael Timothy Bailey
Tashan – “Read My Mind”
Released in 1986 on Def Jam Recordings, this was one of those jams that I was always attracted to while growing up. Poo Bah Records in Pasadena, Ca. was my main spot for diggin’ as a teen. I bought this album as a promo copy. This particular song jumped out. The perfect melding of street-funk x lush chords x a sinister feel. Should’ve been a hit, but folks weren’t ready. I was, even at this young age. Produced by Tashan himself & the mysterious A2Z.
SLAVE – “I’ll Be Gone”
Released in 1982 on Cotillion Records, this was the first album by the Funk band without legendary lead vocalist & drummer Steve Arrington. Longtime co-lead singer and rhythm guitarist Danny Webster picked up main lead vocals in the band and absolutely destroyed this tune via his Modern-Funk styled vocal delivery and guitar strums throughout. Mark L. Adams rumbles & slides his trademark bass lines throughout as well in such a G way. Many slept on the SLAVE’s catalog after Arrington departed but, I didn’t. This is one of the bands best songs and I would ride around the city of L.A. often to it, as I do ‘til this day. Produced by the band themselves.
PRINCE – “Wonderful Ass”
This was an unreleased song from the great PRINCE that many of us die-hards knew about / had on various boots & cassettes in the 80’s. This finally was released in better sound quality on the “Purple Rain” expanded edition. So glad this one was included. Produced and played by Prince w/ Wendy & Lisa contributing vocals & vibe.
Fashion – “Love Shadow”
Released in 1982 on the Arista label, I remember riding my bike to a record store in Eagle Rock, Ca. as a kid around this time and the record clerk had this playing. But, it was around ‘84. It struck me because I also (during my early experimentation years of different music genres) was listening to a radio station called KROQ 106.7 FM and this song used to play on that station. I had always wondered who it was. That day I walked up to the record clerk and asked who it was and was it for sale, being that it was used record store. Sure enough..I copped the album, with this song on it, finally. It’s still a favorite of mine. Produced by Zeus B. Held.
Soft Cell – “Numbers (12” Version)”
Released in 1983 on the excellent Some Bizzare record label & while still on my KROQ days, but a little earlier in them, after the hoopla of “Tainted Love”, “Sex Dwarf” & related began to subside; Soft Cell kept coming and getting even darker. I loved it & them. This 12” was one I bought as a kid. Produced by Dave Ball w/ Marc Almond continuing his special vocals, this killed! Still does in my book.
Prefab Sprout – “Appetite”
Released in 1985 on the Kitchenware / CBS label, I was turned on to this album by a fellow co-worker at (by this point I was now working) Poo Bah Records in Pasadena around ‘89 / ‘90. He put this CD on in the store and I was blown away by the chords & song writing. This song “Appetite” stood out as well as the whole damn album. Been hooked ever since. Much respect continued for anything primary member Paddy McAloon is on. This album was also produced by Thomas Dolby.
Todd Rundgren & Utopia – “Disco Jets”
Discovered on yet, another one of my weekend runs to Tower Records Hollywood, a CD released in Japan only of unreleased demo’s of the great Todd Rundgren included a heavily sought after demo tape of his band Utopia doing some disco flavored stuff, recorded in 1976. It later got a good release on its own via this project / packaging seen here. Great project. Wonder why it was never officially released back then? Glad it’s avail now. Solid all the way through, with this song being a stand out. Produced by Todd & Utopia.
Mr. Fingers – “You’re Someone Special”
Released in 1989 on the iconic Chicago House Music label: Jack Trax, this was bought when I started getting into House & anything Mr. Fingers aka: Larry Heard had his name on. My lid was totally flipped by this song. I bought it in 1990 on Melrose. It was everything I was looking for in music after Prince & other heroes of mine started changing their sound x the constant onslaught of New Jack Swing & Soul II Soul bitten drum patterns on the radio. The chords, drum machine & electronic sounds x cool vocals was what I needed at this time.8 plus minutes of absolute bliss. Stayed underground. Still awesome though. This song really is ‘special’.
Switch – “Forever My Love”
Released in 1984 on the Total Experience label after Bobby Debarge, Phillip Ingram & others had departed, this was a slept on project with new members now on board. But, one particular song, the last one on side 2, always stood out & has continued to have me in awe every time I listen, from back then & ‘til now. This (“Forever My Love”) was composed by one of the original members still on board from the glory days of Switch: Eddie Fluellen. He was the keyboardist for the band. I feel it’s a fine piece of Black excellence, rarely seen with no particular genre assigned to it. Just a beautiful composition (with no beat, just beautiful vocal harmonies, keys & cymbals) by a great composer included on a mid-80’s Funk album at the end of the record.