Nite-Liters ‘Analysis’ (Dusty Groove) 4/5

nite_litersThis seminal rare groove funk album from 1973 has long been a collectors dream and with tasty arrangements and production courtesy of one Harvey Fuqua, the tone is set for some classic rhythms on arguably the finest of the five albums the band cut in a prolific five-year period. With hindsight one can view ‘Analysis’ as symbolising a seismic shift in black music from dance-oriented funk to what would come to be termed disco. The album is a very diverse outing that takes in a multitude of influences from jazz and blues, Latin, but also interestingly pop and rock to a lesser extent. Minor pop chart had already been secured by the band with the single ‘K-Jee’ and they were obviously not averse to attracting a wider audience as long as they did not compromise their craft. This was clearly not the case on ‘Analysis’ and it is rather their open-minded approach to music that shines through on the recording. Jazzy guitar riffs a la Wes Montgomery are in evidence on the classy ‘Pee Foul’, this writer’s favourite composition, and also featuring nice Afro-funk drums and percussive accompaniment. Further jazz influences are evident on ‘Happy hooker’ where the keyboard influences of Donald Fagan and Jimmy Smith meet head on with hand claps added for good measure. Funk with a distinct Parliament stamp is found on ‘Anything goes’ with vocals while ‘Cowboy’ takes a leaf out of Johnny Cash’s Mariachi trumpet riffs from ‘Ring of Fire’. Latin percussion riffs add depth to proceedings as on a lovely reworking of the then recently recorded instrumental ‘Valdez in the country’ by Donny Hathaway and the lengthier cut, ‘Drumology’ is a funk equivalent to Tito Puente’s ‘Top Percussion’ project with beefed up drum action. A heavy jam session is the order of the day on ‘Damn’ which precedes the jazz-funk era by a few years while ‘Craaaashing’ could be straight off a blaxploitation movie soundtrack. Nite-Liters were a Kentucky-based band that during the nineteen-sixties underwent numerous changes in personnel, but continued to make the diversity of their line up and output a virtue. Male, female and instrumentalists all made up the constituent parts. Definitely one for the groove-laden listener.

Tim Stenhouse