4th Coming ‘Strange Things: 1970-1974’ (Now-Again) 4/5

4th-coming4th Coming were a LA-based group that released a series of singles from 1969–1974, who consisted of local musicians that had previously worked with Charles Wright’s Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band and other local artists. At the core of the band were songwriters Hank Porter and J.S. Williams, together with sometimes member and guitarist John Greek and keyboard player Yusuf Rahman, with their output predominantly released on Alpha Records, a Hollywood label run by producer Al Firth.
This album is essentially the complete discography of 4th Coming including two songs by Impact – who were a rebranded version of 4th Coming, with the collection featuring a mix of their pretty obscure 45-only releases, which is what will attract most listeners, plus a couple of unreleased cuts. So unless you’re an avid vinyl collector wishing to track down the original and expensive 7” singles, this will be the only alternative to owning all these songs.
Sonically, the compilation is a mix of raw, downtempo LA funk and eccentric deep soul, with a hint of psychedelia thrown in. So this isn’t your straight-ahead 70s soul/funk album. It also includes two additional unreleased pieces, ‘Heaven & Earth’ and ‘Oh Love’, that both have a country influence. Yes, I do mean ‘country’ as in the music style, with ‘Heaven & Earth’ with its twangy guitar and washboard shuffle particularly belonging to that genre.
But fundamentally, music lovers will be drawn to its loose West Coast soul and funk temperament, including personal favourites ‘Cruising Central Ave’, a sleazy instrumental funk groove, the slightly trippy ‘Come to the Feast’ and the raw soul power of ‘Don’t Let Him Take Away Your Mind’. Sample fiends will also enjoy ‘You Don’t Stand a Chance’, in both part 1 and part 2 forms, with it’s heavy drum break laden intro and bluesy guitar riffs.
Long Beach funk favourites War are on obvious influence here, and you can also hear some psychedelic touches of early Parliament records. So these layers and textures offer a slight alternative to the standard funk stylings of most California-based groups.
Now-Again Records head honcho Eothen Alapatt aka Egon, has always had a great ear for finding and curating old, forgotten gems of this nature and this is no exception. Additionally, the packaging is exceptional and the double vinyl pressing as usual from Now-Again is of high quality. Unfortunately, there is only one surviving member of 4th Coming, principal songwriter Hank Porter, but hopefully this release will shine a spotlight on this bygone era of the Los Angeles funk/soul scene.

Damian Wilkes