VA: The Boogie Volume 4
Tokyo Dawn Records

Making good on its title, The Boogie Volume 4 provides not only an excellent overview of the Tokyo Dawn Records roster but an excellent collection of ‘80s-styled funk, electro, hip-hop, and soul tracks. Listeners familiar with the label's output will recognize artist names like Personal Life, Positive Flow, Reggie B, Pugs Atomz, and SoulParlor, many of whom make multiple contributions to the seventy-minute set. Put simply, the compilation packs sixteen boogie wonderland tracks with soul vocals, analog synth fire, funky guitar licks, clavinets, and chunky grooves.

The project's vibe comes into immediate focus the moment Positive Flow's “My Prediction” lays out a funky flow of clavinet and moog synth squiggle alongside a soulful male vocal, and the feeling rolls on into Reggie B's downtempo vocal jam “Do You Wanna Ride,” which plays in equal measure like an affectionate homage to Prince and Rick James (replete with a song-closing vocal squeal that could have come from Prince himself). Positive Flow and Omar re-appear ten songs in with another strong contribution in the smooth'n'sultry “Do What I Do,” and its smoothness carries over into SoulParlor's vocodered workout “Hybrid Funk (You Know What To Do).” Though the album's tone is often rooted in the ‘80s, hip-hop cuts like Pugs Atomz's “R.U.A.G.” and Portformat's “Bitter Sweet” bring The Boogie Volume 4's sound closer in spirit and style to today's sounds.

The release keeps things interesting by alternating between male and female singers, such that one song might include a Rick James-styled lead (Reggie B's “Do You Wanna Ride”) whereas another will feature a softer choir of female voices (Chacho Brodas' “Ojetes Negros”), and one's ears perk up at album's end when the recording's sole instrumental, Reggie B & Leonard D'stroy's “Addictive,” appears. Anyone with a soft spot for the sound of ‘80s funk and soul and a jones for full-scale production values and arrangements should find much to like about The Boogie Volume 4. Eschewing despair, the collection also generally exudes a joyous spirit that goes hand in hand with the nostalgic affection with which the music of the period is regarded.

April 2014