GoGo Get Down
For those unfamiliar with the Washington, DC-based go-go genre, its Ghetto Funk sound reigned for a brief spell during the ‘70s. British producer and DJ Joey Negro (aka Dave Lee) thus performs a public service in compiling some of the best tracks from the scene in the double-CD retrospective GoGo Get Down. Classic go-go tracks like “Back It On Up” by Chuck Brown (one of the form's originators) & The Soul Searchers and Trouble Funk's “Get Down With Your Get Down” are party jams, often doled out in a loose midtempo groove and powered by funk bass lines. Moog synthesizers, electric piano, clavinets, claps, chicken-scratch guitars, and soulful vocals also are key elements, and echoes of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Chic, Cameo, Parliament-Funkadelic, and The Ohio Players often emerge. With its rambunctious shout-outs, horns, and bumping beat, Static Disruptors' loose throwdown “DC Groove” captures the vibe of the scene in a single piece.
One of the collection's main pleasures is hearing its funk grooves brought to life so vividly by actual drummers, bassists, and keyboardists. Though lyrically a cut like E.U.'s “Rock Yer Butt” is crude, there's no denying the appeal of its instrumental attack, and much the same could also be said of Jackie Boy & Nature's Creation's “This Groove Is Made For Funkin'.” Not every song is as lyrically vacuous as E.U.'s, either. Very much emblematic of its era (though no less relevant today), Donald Banks' socially conscious “Status Quo” features back-and-forth, Run DMC-styled riffing on Reaganomics and hard times in general. Though the track's nominally go-go, it's not hard to hear how the genre evolved into hip-hop. Not everything hits the sweet spot: one track I'll not revisit any time soon is “You Can Dance (If You Want To),” a go-go treatment by Davis Pinckney Project of Men Without Hats' vile 1983 hit “The Safety Dance.” But musical historians and listeners with a love for ‘70s funk in all its forms should find much to like about GoGo Get Down. It's certainly easy to imagine the set's tunes booming forth from the ghettoblaster on the cover photo.