The VMP store has been absolutely stacked with reissues of old music you might not be familiar with, part of our mission to make Lost Sounds Found. Since you might not know these albums’ backstories, we’ve got this handy little guide to make it easy to find a dusty classic to love.
Formed in the late ‘60s by the Bell brothers, Jersey City’s finest export Kool and the Gang eventually would become one America’s premiere funk and disco outfits, “Jungle Boogie”-ing into the hearts and minds—and wedding reception—of everyone with a pulse. Their self-titled debut LP turns 50 this year, and though it doesn’t boast the absolute battalion of hits some of their later LPs would have, it’s remarkable how much of the trademark Kool and the Gang sound is here, on this funky LP. If you like funk, or having fun, you need this record.
The second release in our collaboration with Black Jazz records, Kellee Patterson’s debut LP—an homage to the Herbie Hancock album that is titled the same—is an outlier in the towering catalog of Black Jazz, since it’s a vocal-heavy record that plays like a Sade album before Sade was a thing, or a George Benson album made by a former beauty pageant contestant who has serious musical chops (as Patterson was). The original copies of this album fetch a pretty penny, and it’s back out now to give it the attention it deserved when Patterson put this out in the ‘70s.
John Lee Hooker: That’s My Story and Travelin
Of all the itinerant men who roamed the American steppes playing the blues, John Lee Hooker was one of the most prodigious, recording for virtually every major American blues label in his day, and even some jazz labels to boot. Two of his finest LPs turn 60 this year, and they both showcase different sides of Hooker, who could sling an electric guitar like the baddest mother who ever lived, but also play delicate lines on acoustic guitar as well. That’s My Story is more of the latter, but its in the song choice that Hooker’s looseness shows the most; he takes on Motown singles and folk blues in equal measure, bending them to the will of his hollow-body acoustic. On Travelin’, conversely, we get Hooker the guitar hero, working out daring electric leads over some of his old standbys. If you want the standard Hooker, Travelin’ is for you; if you want a quieter unplugged affair, then That’s My Story has you covered.
By the time Etta James started recording for Cadet Records—vs. The main Chess label—she had drifted away from singing straight blues hollers and slow ballads: She was getting looser, and, well, funkier. The funk on the superlative Etta James Sings Funk comes less from the instrumentation, and more from how she can cover a Louvin Brothers, a Bee-Gees, and a Mickey Newbury song on the same album, and somehow make them her own. Listen to her here, and cower in fear:
Fans of our towering The Story of Zamrock Anthology boxset will find a lot to love with this reissue of Black Power, the debut LP from Peace, a Zamrock band founded from pieces of legendary Zamrock bands like WITCH and Boyfriends. They ended up like a cross between the 13th Floor Elevators of Zambia, a psych rock band that had a penchant for spaced out imagery, and a radical political organization demanding liberation. The title track should be a huge hit that features heavily in movies and TV; it’s that good.
Buy this album here.
This album is basically a giant experiment in how far you can push a Fender Rhodes electric piano, as Haynes goes toe-to-toe with Kirk Lightsey over cascading walls of mellow and laid back funk grooves. This was an outlier on the Black Jazz catalog, but one we had to reissue; it’s impossible to listen to this and not be swept away in its, well, waves.
Buy [this album here.](Buy this album here.*