Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The Bay Area is a transient place, DJ's, record collectors and normal decent people come and go from all over the world. Waves of them turn up, fresh faced to replace the bitter burnouts that are on their way out, feeling they have more chance of making it in one of the bigger cultural nexus shangri-la's of the East coast or mainland Europe. They will get more work done there, make their record, write their book, finally finish highschool, despite following up with the bars being open later and it being a much better place to party hard, and also now the even more common remark, that the record shopping is better in said hip catchall destination, because "..the Bay Area has given me arthritis in my fingers and cancer in my ears from all the Hi NRG records I have had to dig through over the years." .
Well, there is some truth in criticisms, especially with regard to the disproportionate amount of Hi NRG 12"s that look and smell like they might be disco until you put the needle on them, but then what do you expect in the town that invented it, and it could be worse, country and bluegrass independent releases from the 70's and 80's also have all the same hallmarks as the funk records of the era for some reason, no picture of a cowboy hat on the label or anything, same print, similar names and titles, imagine living in a state where you have to deal with that disappointment every time you went digging. Puts things in perspective doesn't it.
Anyway, the every day top shelf disco 12"s may be a bit thin on the ground compared to other famous party cities when shopping these days, but the Bay produced plenty of great and storied dance records, and most can be found easily in collections the world over, but there are also some that can't that are rarely seen outside of the area. Small, private pressings that were a product of a dancehall musical heritage that goes back to the blues era, that go for big money in Europe and Japan, but that from time to time, if you are lucky, may turn up in an Oakland thrift store. Stuff that keeps you flipping through all the Sylvester singles. Like this one for example, Rim an Kasa's Oakland produced Too Tough EP.
Rim Kwaku Obeng was a migrant to Oakland from Begoro, Ghana, where at 26 his traditional drumming skills saw him brought over as a session player for (I believe) a recording Fela was doing in the States. He stayed on in the US and produced a now sought after '77 deep afro disco LP named 'Rim Arrives', that has a track on it named something like 'Brushing Is Making Love' that is highly sweated. He did more session work, then produced this second afro boogie EP as a band leader named 'Too Tough', in 1981 using the name Rim and Kasa on Sum Sum records. I have one more locally produced recording by Rim Obeng, under the band name Rim And The Believers named 'International Funk' from 1986, after that I have no record of what happened to him.
Here is the most famous and hard hitting track from the Too Tough EP, that has themes of female empowerment and mutual respect between sexes throughout all it's songs, sort of done in a quirky not too preachy super hard disco afro boogie funk sort of way..
Posted by Black Shag |