Sep 20th, 2023
The story of the invention of the term, ‘deep funk’ is probably only known among fans and practitioners of this niche-genre. In short, it all started in the 1990s when DJs like Keb Darge, Mark ‘Snowboy’ Cotgrove and others began spinning obscure and feral funk 45 RPM singles from local American bands, ostensibly generating another sub-category branch off of the mighty northern soul tree. The dance-club phenomenon inevitably spilled over to contemporary groups on the funk scene which immediately tried to record their music the way their idols did.
The ‘rare groove’ and ‘acid jazz’ movements had run their course and there was a concerted effort to reinstate primitive idiomatic styles and techniques into the music, most notably by 90s funk collective The Poets of Rhythm. As more years passed by the number of bands steadily increased (although in tiny numbers, compared to the mainstream market). Almost every country had a representative with the majority of them coming from the United Kingdom. The deep funk sound was still a niche, however, a very few bands made it onto the mainstream charts, most notably Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings
At the height of the retro-soul movement a questionable development took place. As more bands arrived on the scene, the production became more and more polished and pop-ish. Some of that squeaky-clean tidiness began to creep into the recordings, encouraged in part by the signature sounds of the digital recording technology available at that time. Some bands even tried to jump onto the possibility of promoting their music as ‘deep funk’ although they were actually playing slick, funky pop music. This way some people who thought they were listening to raw, energetic funk actually felt quite ambushed when hit with real deep funk. In fact, a certain percentage of funk music produced within the past 20 years does not deserve to be described as ‘deep funk’ at all. Fortunately there were (and are) some pleasant exceptions which did not just imitate but actually rendered amazing funk music just like some of the finest funk combos of the 1960s and 70s.
One of those creative minds is without a doubt Joel Ricci aka Lucky Brown. Originally from Seattle, Washington, USA, he has enriched the deep funk community since the mid-2000s with his stellar abilities. He is not only an amazing musician playing multiple instruments, but also a brilliant composer, arranger, and producer too. But for the good folks at Tramp he is much more: a close friend and remarkable human being. Whenever they were struggling, whether with the label or in private life, Joel and his musical work helped them to overcome everything and keep going on their path.
So here we are in 2023. The songs you are listening to right now are the complete Space Dream collection, split into two parts, representing the two living-room recording sessions from which his 2011 Tramp Records debut was compiled. Each fully remastered album contains unreleased material and comes with brand new, beautifully reimagined artwork by Ricci himself, housed in an authentic 1960s tip-on cover. A first class product from a first class musician for the discerning funk enthusiast. exalted kind of blues of “Some Kinda Blues”.
‘Don’t Go Away’ / ‘Space Dream’ out on 2LP / Digital on Sep. 22nd 2023 via Tramp