News/Tracks: Coming soon – two lo-fi funk lost gems ‘Thrust’ and ‘Thrust Too’, kickstarting an overdue retrospective of Wilbur Niles seminal grooves.

A label that does the crate digging for you, Toronto’s We Are Busy Bodies have announced a gold dust reissue series shining a light on the work of guitarist/producer Wilbur Niles. Much sampled but seldom celebrated this lo-fi funk luminary based in Cleveland, Ohio made infectious groove music crackling with unrestrained soul, jazz and rock energy. Garage sounds of the late seventies/early eighties from a different block entirely.

The first pair of Wilbur Niles’ reissues are due simultaneous release on 31st March, an event, courtesy of We Are Busy Bodies, that no serious turntablist should ignore. Starting with his seminal first album from 1979 ‘Thrust’, which features at the heart of a raucous band Wilbur on guitar, percussion and synth plus his then girlfriend Machelle McNeal on keys and vocals, these are sounds that floor you with their enthusiasm. Recorded in sessions outside their day jobs (Niles as a carpenter and McNeal as a postal worker) ‘Thrust’ was made from James Brown/Jimmy Smith starting points for the love of funk and in hope of future possibilities.

Initial preview track ‘Ja Ja’ introduces that spirit, a tune that’s authentic, assured and atmospheric. From sultry keys and grand chords the track slides naturally into a shimmying smooth funk vibe. There’s a touch of Azymuth cool and Brother’s Johnson melodic ease mixed with Niles’s own subtle guitar flourishes. It’s also a cut with back story credentials, recorded in Devo’s makeshift Man-Ray studios in Akron and energised by that DIY, ‘let’s do this’ mindset.

As if the promise of the release of Thrust isn’t enough its follow up, Thrust Too will similarly be let loose by We Are Busy Bodies, on 31st March, to make up one mighty Wilbur Niles pairing.
Recorded this time in the relative sophistication of a local studio used to make jingles this 1980 follow up revealed a tighter, more direct sound than the debut. While it might lack in that quirky charm it still delivers plenty of other riches, Niles fine grasp of styles and dynamic arrangement bouncing out with a real sure stride. For a taster catch the Sly/Bootsy powered Survival Of The Funkiest, featuring the flowing vocal trio Coffee, Cream and Sugar, as it bumps up to a wild, synth blasted, all floors party freak out.

What’s more along with these first two albums, We Are Busy Bodies will be reissuing the rest of Niles expansive discography digitally, allowing for that deeper dive. There also a whisper of a possible vinyl compilation from this significant catalogue if people get interested.
The signs are that won’t be a problem…so let’s get started.

Pre-order your copies of ‘Thrust’ and ‘Thrust Too’ now direct from:

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