Review: Strut's series of Oneness Of Juju reissues continues apace. Last week they re-released the veteran US Afro/Latin/soul/jazz fusionists' 1980 'Make A Change' long-player; this week they delve back a little further in time to bring you 'Space Jungle Luv', an album that first came out on the Black Luv label in 1976, and that Strut themselves reissued in 2002. As with last week's outing, there's an almost bewildering array of styles on show - and it'll all be a bit "Welcome to Jazz Club!" for some - but if you want to hear the band at their best, check out the dark psychedelic funk of the title track and, in particular, 'The Connection'.
Review: Plunky J Branch and his band Oneness Of Juju have been plying their unique blend of jazz, funk and soul with Afro and Cuban rhythms since time, starting out in San Francisco in 1970 but based since the mid-70s in Plunky's hometown of Richmond, Virginia. Here, Strut reissue their 1980 album 'Make A Change' (also later released as 'Every Way But Loose'), now adding extended versions of five of the original album's six tracks, as well as bonus cuts 'Time' and 'Plastic'. Spanning reggae, jazz-funk, soul and more, there's much to enjoy here - the raw funk of the aforesaid 'Every Way But Loose' in particular.
Review: Founded out of Washington DC in the 1970s and running through until the early-'90s, Black Fire was a go-to label for all things spiritual in jazz, funk and soul; grounded in African rhythms, dialogue, funk and go-go. Inspiring a generation alongside like Strata-East and Tribe, Black Fire Records is responsible for delivering us the highest order of Oneness Of Juju material, while working with and introducing the likes of saxophonist Byard Lancaster, Ghanaian percussionist Okyerema Asante, Southern Energy Ensemble, and music drama troupe Theatre West. Also included in Strut's retrospective is the Experience Unlimited's soul and gospel number "People", the frenetic, hot summer jazz of Lon Moshe & Southern Freedom Arkestra and some alternative disco rhythms of "Look At The People!" by Wayne Davis. Our Pick: "African Rhythms (live In Washington DC, 1975)".
Review: Formed in 1970 and fronted by J Plunky Branch, Oneness Of Juju have gone through numerous personnel and name changes over the decades but are still peddling their Afrocentric take on funk and jazz to this day (currently as Plunky & The Oneness). This collection from Strut, though, focuses on their golden years in the 70s - and it's heavy stuff! While one or two tracks would fit nicely into straight-up funk sets, adding a little world flava, others explore model jazz, spoken word, Nyabhingi drumming and other more esoteric musical pastures. Imagine yourself surrounded by righteous dashiki-wearing dudes at a Panthers meeting in 70s Harlem and you'll get the general vibe...
African Rhythms (45 version Parts 1 & 2) - (6:39) 113 BPM
Afrobeat - (3:57) 132 BPM
Review: It's third time around for this classic album, which Strut first reissued back in 2002. The band known at different times as Juju, Oneness Of Juju, Plunky & The Oneness Of Juju and eventually just Plunky & Oneness have been an institution on the funk, soul and jazz scene from the early 70s right through till the current decade, but this their debut long-player from 1975 arguably captures their distinctive blend of funk, jazz and Afro influences at its rawest and most hard-hitting. This release also now includes the slightly different single version of the title track, plus bonus cut "Afrobeat".