Skull Snaps is a legendary funk album that has long been shrouded in obscurity. The band recorded their self-titled debut and a handful of singles in 1973, then vanished without a trace. In recent years, their vinyl has become ubiquitously sampled and highly collectible. The monstrous break that opens up their classic cut, “It’s A New Day,” furnished the beat for countless hip-hop hits of the mid-‘90s. But despite all their widespread influence, there’s been almost no information available anywhere on the Skull Snaps. “It’s become a very mystique thing about us,“ says bassist and singer Samm Culley. “I think everybody who stole our music must have thought that we fell off the face of the earth because they didn’t hear anything from us at all. But we’re here, and ready to be heard.
Although this is billed to Wes Montgomery, it is in fact a combination of two early-'60s LPs by the Montgomery Brothers – The Montgomery Brothers and The Montgomery Brothers in Canada – onto one disc. (Also note that it's almost entirely different from the Montgomery Brothers' Milestone double LP that also bears the name Groove Brothers, which mostly features material from their Riverside LP Groove Yard.) With Wes on guitar, Monk on bass, and Buddy on piano (Larance Marable fills out the quartet on drums), The Montgomery Brothers (1960) is a boppish set of five lengthy tracks, divided between both originals (penned by either Wes or Buddy) and standards. "June in January" is a particularly good vehicle for Wes' fluid single-note runs, while "D-Natural Blues" is one of his more enduring and good-natured compositions from the period. Buddy Montgomery, who often played the piano with the Montgomery Brothers, sticks exclusively to vibes on The Montgomery Brothers in Canada, which in addition to Wes and Monk has Paul Humphrey on drums.
A stunner of a record from the mighty Jorge Ben – and a record that catapulted the Brazilian singer to international fame at the time! Ben had already been making magic for almost a decade down in Brazil – and his compositions and grooves left an undeniable impact on the scene in the post-bossa years – but this album has Jorge really emerging as the global soul star he was destined to be – from his powerful stare on the cover, right down to the grit in the grooves!
The Bar-Kays were early progenitors of '70s funk. BLACK ROCK/GOTTA GROOVE is two records on one CD; both albums feature early incarnations of the band. The tracks on GOTTA GROOVE are from 1968, one year after the group had lost four of its members in the same plane crash that killed Otis Redding.