Close to two decades after they were originally produced,
ten tracks by the Florida and London based producer and
drummer Tony Cook have been collected on a CD by the fine folks at Stones Throw
Records. Compiled by Stones Throw founder DJ Peanut Butter Wolf (who also
remixed 6 tracks), Back to Reality rescues a small trove of period-piece
treasures that otherwise might well have been lost forever; or at least until
the folks at The Numero Group or
Vampi Soul or Light In The Attic came along in their endless hunt for new-old
music to archive and release.
Cook, who played drums off and on for decades with James
Brown (and Etta James at one point) had a real knack for writing
and producing catchy pop funk. These ten tracks, recorded in the early ‘80s and
featuring the vocals of Tavell, Vernon Cheely, Vanessa Jean and Cook’s crew The
Party People, are very much a product of their time; boss synths and hard beats
rule, grooves are simple and relentless, and the specter of Prince nodding in
approval hangs just to one side. The breathy opening track, “Get to the Point,”
is Prince-like enough to have come from his royal badness himself. The super
sexy “Burn Me Up” rides a descending piano line, popping bass and thundering
drums right into the bedroom. “Heartbreaker,” “Video Rock” and “Mighty Fine”
are all great examples of poppy, hard-ass synth funk, while Dam-Funk ads a
vocal line to “What’s On Your Mind” close to twenty years after it was
Even better is “The Rap,” a brutally simplistic and casual
rap number credited to Tavell and The Kids, who do indeed sound mighty young.
The capper is “On The Floor (Rock It),” a high energy disco-funk dance floor
monster and hit for Tony Cook back in the day, and the number that brought Cook
to Peanut Butter Wolf’s attention.
Back to Reality will
be an essential addition to any dance DJ’s collection, but even casual fans of
80s synth funk will find much to dig into in this booty-shaker primer.
DOWNLOAD: “Heartbreaker,” “Video Rock,”
“The Rap,” “Burn Me Up,” “On The Floor (Rock-It)” CARL HANNI