KPM Music Library ‘Music for dancefloors’ 2CD/2LP/Download (Strut) 4/5

Searching for library music beats has become a whole new area of music collecting over the last ten to fifteen years and, although not initially aimed at dancefloor action, have become essential tools for DJs and vinyl connoisseurs alike. However, precious little is known about many of the musicians behind the grooves even if the sounds created are often all to familiar television and cinematic accompaniments. This is where Strut are to be congratulated for their devotion in seeking to uncover the rarer items and this compilation, which initially surfaced in 2001, groups together some of the top sessions musicians from the 1970s in a now extended deluxe edition. The name Keith Marshall for example would mean little to most listeners, yet if you mentioned that he was the creator of the Granstand, or BBC Wimbledon themes, then all of a sudden his name would assume greater significance. There are some absolute gems contained within and the funk-tinged soul groover ‘That’s what friends are for’ (1975) by Alan Parker which is a winner from the start with vocals supplied by Madeline Bell. Big band jazz of the Oliver Nelson variety meeting blaxploitation film soundtrack is one way to describe the Johnny Pearson number ‘Assault course’ which dates from 1970 and features some lovely funk beats. One US produced piece with a distinctive Latin undercurrent is the piano-propelled ‘Freeway to Rio’ (1970) by Les Baxter while for further variety there is an early dub excursion on ‘Reggae train’ composed jointly by William Farley and Denis Bovell. For straight ahead jazz grooves, look no further than the jazz combo plus vibes sound of ‘Piano in transit’ from Francis Coppieters whereas ‘Swamp fever’ is a mid-paced groover that is dominated by catchy keyboards and a gorgeous flute solo. Alan Hawkshaw backed Serge Gainsbourg during the latter’s psychadelic period as well as leading the original skinhead reggae group the Mohawks and ‘Senior thump’ is a long-time fave as is ‘The champ’. In general the numbers are relatively concise in keeping with the requirements of the genre. A second CD brings matters virtually up to date with live performances of several of the key numbers on the first CD and this was recorded by a big band at the Jazz Café in London and features among others Alan Hawkshaw, Keith Mansfield and the KPM All Stars. Tim Stenhouse