Feel The Chant: The Brit Funk Story: BBC Radio 4 today...

PattrickPattrick 57 Posts
edited March 2013 in Strut Central
...and also available thereafter on Iplayer. Should I have put this in Take That Sh*t To The Brits I wonder?
Ne'er mind..here it is.


David Grant revisits a unique era in British music when jazz funk exploded onto the scene.

With contributions from Light of the World's Gee Bello, Hi Tension's Paul P, Shakatak's Bill Sharpe and Jill Saward, Southern Freeez singer Ingrid Mansfield Allman, Level 42's Mark King and DJ's Chris Hill, Mike Shaft and Mark 'Snowboy' Cotgrove.

The Jazz Funk scene developed from the Home Counties, principally Essex, along with clubs such as Crackers in London. In the South DJ Chris Hill and his Funk Mafia led the way, and in the North Colin Curtis, among others, were instrumental in its popularity.

In this documentary, vocalist and presenter David Grant, who was part of the UK soul outfit Linx, revisits this unique era in British music which saw artists experimenting with a fusion of jazz, funk, urban dance rhythm and pop hooks.

He reveals the origins of the phrase 'Brit-Funk' and how the pioneers of this sound, groups Hi Tension and Light of the World, presented their music with a British twist to their instrumentation and vocals.

The Jazz funk scene was a British movement, a club culture unique to these shores with no equivalent in the States. As the music became popular, more and more British 12" singles started to appear with a craze for white-labels.

Grant acknowledges that Brit Funk, although considered in some quarters as a pale imitation of US Jazz Funk, was nonetheless ours - and heralded a new dawn in dance and pop music. The term evolved from the club DJs - legendary names such as Chris Hill, and James Hamilton of Record Mirror whose column had a major influence in launching new records.

With support from the club disc jockeys and labels such as Ensign and Elite, artists including Light of the World, Level 42, Shakatak and Freeez enjoyed chart success and made regular appearances on Top of the Pops alongside the new romantics and punk groups of this period.

With club DJs gaining cult status, the scene also created many 'club hits' which, although they never achieved commercial success, are still remembered with great affection today and discussed on music forum websites and uploaded to Youtube.

Many British based soul and dance bands found themselves merging under the Brit Funk banner. These included Lynx, Central Line, Imagination and Second Image - and initially pop groups such as Haircut 100 and Wham tapped into the style and sound to help launch their careers.

Grant demonstrates how this scene was hugely significant in cutting through racial boundaries in the clubs and was instrumental in raising the profile of black and white musicians working together, notably Spandau Ballet who collaborated with Beggar And Co to produce the classic pop song 'Chant Number One'.

He explains how, during the success of the Jazz and Brit Funk period, "chanting" materialised in the discotheque and nightclub. This football crowd style of interacting with the music and DJ underlined the voice of a new generation which can still be felt today


  • When I saw the thread I hoped it might be an Acid Jazz thing. Can't see many names I like there. Is it any good?

  • PattrickPattrick 57 Posts
    SP 1200 said:
    When I saw the thread I hoped it might be an Acid Jazz thing. Can't see many names I like there. Is it any good?
    This was all a decade earlier than Acid Jazz....kinda '79 onwards. I'm not a huge fan of Brit Funk generally but always enjoy seeing how other people join the dots from one movement to another. The show's not been on yet. I'll probably check it out later in the week.

    I never thought about Brit Funk leading to early Wham! and Haircut 100 but it makes total sense. I love Haircut 100's Favourite Shirts and Lemon Fire Brigade has got to be one of the sunniest lite-funk ditties ever.

    Never a fan of Level 42 at all, liked Beggar & Co's 'Mule' but I bloody love me some Shakatak. Often slated for being formulaic, light-weight, cheesy, shite lyrics blah blah blah...but I think all those ingredients sound perfect together here.

    Love Easier said Than Done.

    I'll get me coat .

  • JimsterJimster Twilight Zone/ Al Capone/ Rolling Stone/ Eva Perón 6,358 Posts
    It looks like a good listen, I'll try and cop at home.

    I cosine most of this. "Southern Freeze" and "Hi Tension" still get spun on the reg. Incognito's "Sunburn" and "Parisienne Girl" too. L42's hits are not entirely representative of their work. You can't front on Mark King; he is notorious for the hyper-slaps but his groove work is impeccable. "Kansas City Milkman" and "True Believers" is good stuff.

  • skelskel You can't cheat karma 5,028 Posts
    I find it disappointing if they want to portray Britfunk as somehow preparing ground for some perceived greater glory that is Wham or Spandau or whoever. And I bow to no-one in appreciation of Nick H and the Haircuts. That stuff is stellar, but it shares with Linx and co a targetting towards the more saccharine end of the spectrum.

    No doubt they had their grounding in those late 70s club nights where jazzed-up funk was the currency of the day, but Brttfunk remains an under-exploited seam of goodness.
    As I prepare for a BF 12"s auction on the bay, here's some random stuff that will slip under the populist doc radar:

    Tee Mac - Sound Of The Universe
    Nick Straker Band - Straight Ahead
    I- Level - All My Love
    David Bendeth - Feel The Real
    Incognito - Summer's Ended
    Jazz Sluts - Fuchi

    And it goes without saying, the Chaz Jankel albums, Ai No Corrida, Rah Band, Beggar & Co with Rising Son etc etc

    Hi Tension were ground zero for most, that first LP still sounds fresh; Incognito need to have their own section along with LOTW, killer first albums that can still cut a rug.

    And then the whole Rah n Shakatak polished sound that got gasface mostly, then derided as cheese, but listen now and all you get is goosebumps at the sheer quality of writing, playing, production; all shot through with a knowing edge that may make non-Brits unimpressed, but speaks loudly to us of sunny summer evenings of our chip-strewn and beer-sodden youth when the world was innocent and the future without horizon.


  • FlomotionFlomotion 2,387 Posts

    Two good, dirt cheap common comps from back in the day when the force was strong...

  • skelskel You can't cheat karma 5,028 Posts
    For me it's more the SoulJazz set "British Hustle"

    Brilliant comp.

  • DuderonomyDuderonomy Haut de la Garenne 7,410 Posts
    This thread makes me feel young. ++ approved.


  • DB_CooperDB_Cooper Manhatin' 7,823 Posts
    I didn't even know this genre of music existed.

  • That was a good listen. Wasn't really aware of that scene it was just a bit too early for me.

  • bennyboybennyboy 538 Posts
    Thanks Doc, missed this completely, due to snow related child care. Good stuff, and to those up above, many great brit-funk acts knocking out some great music.

    David Grant doe - yay or nay? Forgotten he was even in Linx, I remember him just for the pop. That and 'Carrie and David's Popshop'.

  • DORDOR Two Ron Toe 9,824 Posts
    Thx for posting!

    Brings me back to this thread.

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