I don't think I've heard a more delectable 45. Whispering backing vocals, sneaky horns, smooth wah-wah and general unpredictability make this a prime example of the unique qualities of Bay Area funk and soul. Quite possibly one of the best local 45 I've ever laid ears on, popping and bumping along representing both sloppy and smooth. It's free-ness and tight syncopation make for a magical combination. Listening to it, it's hard to know what to expect, but by the time the whole song comes together, it's over. I know, I know...I've done a lot of genre-fying lately, and yet again, I'm gonna have to hit you with it again. It's a tune that's often labeled 'cross-over' perhaps because 'northern' and 'modern' soul dj's played it out when branching their sets out. It does definitely 'cross-over' into something new, or perhaps some other sound sphere. But, I think it's more aptly defined as 'free soul' or 'indie soul' because it just sounds more...well..free. It's tone and structure steers well out of the way of commercial sound and is independent in nature. Like many others and true to funk 45 form, the flip is an upbeat northern number "All Those Lies". Also, a quality tune and probably more appropriately coined 'cross-over', but not nearly as tasty as "Rat Race".
There's two major traits I'm noticing with Bay Area sound in this particular era, both with this and the previous 'Soft Touch' post.
1. There's incredible tightness, yet the overall vibe is sloppy and free sounding. Almost effortless and relaxed yet obviously complicated. (This seems to be quite prevalent in many Bay Area funk and soul artists.)
2. The mood and approach is all about capturing the purest of 'Superfly' feeling, like the slickest, smoothest pimp music you've ever heard, yet the messages are positive and socially conscious.
It's all contributing to making me extremely proud of this area and its rich musical history. On a side note - Ive been enjoying another local purveyor, collector and DJ - Kid Inquisitive and his fantastic site, check it out here
It's well worth your time. Lots and lots of other interesting Bay Area stuff.
I quested for this "Rat Race"45 for a good long time. When I asked, I either got the 'never heard of it', or had to silently watch it disappear for thousands of dollars on ebay. Now, like a good collector and in true blue 'soundboutique' fashion, I'm sharing it with you. Hopefully you won't have to pay as much as I did. I assure you, it IS worth it. But, please don't rub it in if you found it in mint condition for a dollar.
Danny Williams - Rat Race