Wednesday, November 9, 2011

1982: Don't need you anyway

Was there ever a phrase invented to chill one to the very core as 'jazz funk'?

It conjures up wine bars, gold-chained lotharios, big-haired 19-year-old dancing round their handbags in peppermint miniskirts, Malibu and Coke, fake palm trees, nightclubs called Raffles or Boogies or Fridays and baggy-trousered floppy-haired trumpet players in white socks and soul slippers.

Which in 1982, was exactly what it entailed. Many a nightclub did I attend where all that and more was going on. And nothing sums up that whole world to me more than a coach trip to Windsor to see a friend's brother's band doing a few numbers in spring of that year.

I remember it mainly because I was so desperate for the loo on the way up that I almost considered going in a carrier bag, but settled for semi-kidney failure instead and had my grey box jacket stolen.

But what of the band? From what I recall, Boys White Teeth, as they were called in the Haircut 100 style of the time, weren't that bad, and came on after an evening of You're The One For Me by D-Train, The Chinese Way by Level 42, endless George Benson and Easier Said Than Done by those doyens of the scene, Shakatak. They wore peg trousers with short-sleeved shirts tucked in and the odd skinny tie, their hair had that flicky soulboy look and they didn't move much on stage.

The dancefloor was filled though, as people put down their Bacardis and Harp lagers and grooved on down to the band. My firend's brother was the saxophonist - was their ever a more Eighties sound than that? - and was very good. I thought we might be seeing the birth of the new Modern Romance.

They never made it. They died with the whole jazz funk movement. The world only ever needed one Light Of The World.

But I did get my jacket back.


  1. You can barely imagine how massive Jazz Funk was in the East London/Essex hinterlands where I grew up. It seemed to be coming from every Cortina and every Artex-spreader's transistor. I hated it to the point of hyperventilation and even now if I hear a slap-bass line my blood pressure becomes dangerously high.

    And I know in my heart of hearts I'm partly to blame for it - when I was on the student union committee at my technical college in 1980, we booked an up and coming band for our Christmas Ball called Level 42. I'd never heard of them but got talked into it. The crowd went wild for them, and the rest was history.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Jazz Funk - the most soulless music ever. It seemed to be booming form every XR3 (red) that whizzed past..and the default listening for footballers and sportsmen.

    Even now the sound of it makes me think of Kouros and Aramis. A mate of mine who was nuts for it did me a couple of C 90 comps. I'll have to try and track them down..

    T big daddy for Jazz Funk fans was as you say was D Train, but a couple of tunes that were biggies in Southend at Zero 6 and Zhivago's..

    Tyrone Brunson - The Smurf

    Roni Griffith - Best Part of Breaking up not strictly Jazz Funk, but a club classic at indie/alt and Jazz Funk venues

  4. Yes it really is XR3i music. And we have ISBW to thank for it.

  5. You are all so terribly wrong. Jazz funk is one of the highest forms of Western art, and I am proud to say that it is a musical genre in which our country excelled. Shakatak are the finest product of Bishop's Stortford since that pair of fine purple hose which was exported to the King of Bavaria as a demonstration of the superior excellence of East Anglian wool in 1537.

    Also some of your commentators are using some pretty rubbish examples of jazz-funk to discredit the genre. You would no more choose Level 42 to show that jazz-funk is crap than saying that most women's magazines are like Chat. And not to get too picky, but neither of Mondo's examples are considered jazz-funk by the cognoscenti.

    Webster Lewis - now that's what I call jazz-funk..

  6. Well Looby, we must bow to you as the jazz funk master.

  7. If Level 42 weren't jazz funk after all, that gets me off the hook, so I'm happy to bow.