Monday, September 10, 2007

Mass Production  

Mass Production are my favorite of a breed of 70's also ran funk acts that hung on into the 80's and made the sonic transition into the electro funk, boogie era. A lot of these bands, whose roots stemmed from classical jazz training and standard funk drum kit, guitar, big percussive rhythm section combos didn't take to the new studio driven synth aesthetic and methodology with much success. Imagine being part of a gigging funk 6 piece, having been on the road for the best part of a decade, the eighties come in and suddenly all the club r'n'b chart/dance music top spots are being taken by a couple of faceless guys and a drum machine. Realizing that you needed some studio time with a roland juno and the accompanying manual must have been exciting and daunting, although maybe it wasn't like that at all, maybe all these old well established deep funk acts evolved into electro funk boogie studio production outfits naturally as the new sounds, technology and instruments permeated black musical culture. I doubt it though.

Mass Production were a jazz-funk group that formed in a high school in Norfolk, Virginia. They eventually moved the act to New York and produced some good disco-funk records such as 1979's 'Firecracker' that are reasonably sought after, and the one or two instrumental tracks they had on each album always seemed to chart, although I don't listen to any of that stuff, Mass Production for me came alive as soon as 1980 came around. Albums like 'Masterpiece' and 'In A City Groove' are full of overlooked quality boogie numbers, consistently so, although light on standout classics. In 1983 shortly before disbanding they released the album '1983', and in order to prove that time had not passed them by they included electro funk tunes with contemporary hip-hop influence, and even a vocoded reggae funk hybrid. This is also one of my favorite album covers of the era, full of color and humorous cartoon futurism, little Japanese graffiti looking robots on the funk production line. Here is a slow electro instrumental groover from said album called "Victory '83", listen to how it all melded together shortly before they disappeared into history..

Mass Production - Victory '83

-Black Shag

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