Within the history of disco and indeed soul music more generally, small independent labels have proliferated, contributing to the promotion of precocious new talent, and in the case of P &P records it served as a central distribution point for some two hundred tiny labels that in several cases only issued a couple of hundred copies per release. It is this underground New York label that is the focus of the latest in Harmless excellent on going series of chronicling the history of dance music and once again compiled by dance music discographer extraordinaire Bill Brewster with fourteen pages of inner sleeve notes to satisfy the most curious of musical minds. What is particularly impressive and about P & P records is that it cut across dance genres to incorporate disco and funk, early rap (one might early hip-hop also with much later offerings from the likes of Spoony Gee and Lovebug Starski) and soul and thus one has a genuine overview of how the grass-roots scene developed from the mid-1970s through to the 1980s. Key figures emerge from the label and Peter Brown was one of them. A truly left-field slice of 12″ disco from 1976 is a highlight in Cloud One’s ‘Atmosphere Strutt’ and this remains a collector’s dream. Patrick Adams is another seminal character in his role as producer and Cloud One further enhanced their reputation with ‘Disco Juice’, also contained here and which enjoyed a whole new lease of life decades later when DJ Norman Cook sampled it. As a further example of Cloud One’s talents, a 1981 offering featuring the vocals of Margo Williams, ‘Don’t let my rainbow pass me by’ completes a trio of wonderful and obscure dancefloor ditties by the group, and on the generous selection overall another cut has been included by the group. However, Patrick Adams is renowned equally for his production of a number that became something of a modern soul classic and that is ‘Everything Man’ by Daybreak from 1977 that is a welcome inclusion here and the sole 7″ original among a sea of extended 12″ singles.
Elsewhere, there are some memorable examples of the Sound of New York records label with ‘Dance Freak’ by Chain Reaction from 1980 a personal favourite and trip back down memory lane. Producer and keyboardist Dwight Brewster was in fact an in-demand musician and was behind both the much loved Aquarian Dream and the lesser known pan-Caribbean funk of Kalyan (worthy of a revisit and re-issue). For fans of rare groove, one of the ultimate 12″ singles to own is ‘Got to have your love’ by Clyde Alexander and Sanction, and for a fraction of the original vinyl, you can enjoy all nine minutes and thirty-nine seconds here. From the gritty bassline through to the repetitive vocal chants and incessant rhythm guitar, this is one infectious piece of music. The acronym P & P stood for Poor People with Potentiality and so it is, perhaps, fitting that an extensive selection of the musicians on the roster should finally be available at a more affordable price to the majority.