Various Artists - The Craig Charles Funk And Sould Club LP [Freestyle Records]

Actor, stand up comedian, poet, radio presenter and club DJ Craig Charles has been a dedicated soul boy from a tender age, in fact he was raised on the sounds of sweet soul, “My father came over from Guyana in the West Indies and he brought a load of records over with him. There was always Ray Charles playing in the house, The Platters, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding. My Dad would play all this old stuff. In fact I was very close to getting called Otis when I was born!”

“One of my earliest memories is my mum and dad dancing around the kitchen to Ray Charles’ I’ve Got A Women. I remember the look of sheer joy and exhilaration on their faces. I was hooked!”

“In the mid to late 60’s when Liverpool swung to the sound of The Beatles, our house grooved to a different beat: Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin The Temptations and The Four Tops. This was the start of my musical education”.

Given that soundtrack to his childhood – it wasn’t surprising that when into his teens, Craig sought out more soulful sounds in the local club scene, “When punk landed I was P-Funking. when young kids where pogoing like morons, I was dusting talc off my shoes. I used to go to an underground black club in Liverpool when I was 14 – I remember dancing to Up for the Down Stroke by Parliament. Everyone thinks of The Beatles or Echo and the Bunnymen when they think of Liverpool, but I remember being so proud when The Real Thing were in the charts, because at least there was one black Liverpool band making it”.

After achieving mainstream success with his poetry, and then acting and TV presenting roles in cult sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf, Robot Warsand TV’s longest running soap opera ‘Coronation Street’ as the taxi driving, soul music fanatic Lloyd Mullaney, Craig’s reputation as a fun, funk loving soul boy was cemented with the public.

In 2001, as the BBC prepared to launch the new digital radio station 6 Music, he was asked to present a show, “I jumped at the chance to educate people about the golden era of American music. How arrogant and how wrong I was. It’s me who has received the education. The great British funk and soul public know infinitely more than me, and over the years have taught me about that halcyon period, and more importantly the British, European and worldwide response to that funky music”.

Over 10 years on from the debut broadcast, the show is now the award winning stations longest running, and has the biggest share of audience too, a very impressive result for what was originally thought of as a ‘niche’ programme!

It wasn’t long before promoters of club nights and festivals were asking for Craig to bring his ‘Trunk Of Funk’ out on the road, and countless DJ slots across the UK and into Europe included Mostly Jazz Festival, The Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Kendal Calling and the Big Chill, Vintage at Goodwood and even the world renowned Glastonbury Festival.

As it was clear there was huge demand for more – monthly ‘Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club‘ nights began at The Wardrobe in Leeds, Band On the Wall in Manchester, and attendance records were smashed as eager funk fans created road blocks as they clamoured for the combination of nights of top DJ tunage and blistering lives sets from the likes of Maceo Parker, The New Mastersounds, JTQ, The Fantastics! and many of the acts included on this very compilation. Without doubt, his radio show and funky evangelising is one of Craigs’ proudest achievements, and it was only natural that Craig and Freestyle Records would join forces to bring forth this album – the closest thing there is to having Craig come round your house and start the party off!

Asked to sum up his feelings about his first DJ compilation album and the vibrant global music scene it reflects Craig said, “This CD contains 19 rip snorting, bass drum banging, brass blaring booga-bloody-loo, big beats, bass lines and blooming brilliant vocals. From as far away as Australia with The Bamboo’s ultimate party starter Amen Brother, to The Excitements coming out of Barcelona – boy can she rattle your glasses! I bring you some cover versions that have surely got to be better than the real thing, like Nostalgia 77 & Alice Russell’s take on The White Stripes ‘7 Nation Army’ and T Bird and the Breaks ‘Clap Hands Song’. Not to mention The Incredible Bongo Bands’ skin shredding version of The Rolling Stones ‘Satisfaction'”.

Bands like Smoove & Turrell from the northeast and The Haggis Horns from Scotland via Leeds prove that Britain’s response to the music laid down by legends such as James Brown, the hardest workingman in show business, has been truly remarkable. All these tunes are guaranteed to tear the roof off any venue festival or house party in the known universe. Enjoy and remember …no sleep till bedtime!

Release Date: 26th November 2012

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