Freeez – Southern Freeez (1980): Review

“Southern Freeez” is the debut release from the disco/jazz funk 4 piece who led the Brit Funk semi explosion of the early 80s along with Maze, and Level 42. Led by John Rocca (percussion/vocals), along with Peter Maas (bass), Paul Morgan (drums), and Andy Stennett (keyboards), the band fused traditional disco with jazz funk, and Latin rhythms with varying degrees of success. The most striking perception one gets from listening to this long player is the standard of musicianship. They are without exception, gifted performers of their musical weapons of choice, particularly Stennett whose piano accompaniment on the opener “Mariposa” defies the long held view that musicians learn to play well as their recording career gains momentum. Stennett and co. have obvious skills in spades, and it shows.

The music breezes along serenely, and is a rare contradiction in that immediate dance floor disposability can combine with a depth to fill any living room with a warm vibrancy. Along with the excellent “Mariposa”, “Flying High”, and “Caribbean Winter”, the real stunner is the title track and major hit single “Southern Freeez”; a stunning slice of dark disco funk, magically sung by Ingrid Mansfield Allman, and deservedly would go on to fill dance floors in the UK for years after.

“Southern Freeez” is surprisingly mature, expertly performed, and raises a simple question. Why oh why did the band disintegrate after such an intriguing opener as this? The Carnival was brief but beautiful.

8/10

A1 Mariposa
A2 Carribean Winter
A3 Easy on the Onions
A4 Sunset
B1 Flying High
B2 Southern Freeez
B3 Roller Chase
B4 First Love
B5 Finale

Southern Freeez

Flying High

Mariposa

Advertisements

5 responses to “Freeez – Southern Freeez (1980): Review

  1. Freeez didn’t “disintegrate” – they released “Gonna Get You” (aka “IOU” in the U.S.) LP and went on to bigger commercial success with a string of club hits, transforming from light jazz-funk-Brit-soul to the electro-funk-pop of IOU, Pop Goes My Love, etc. – John Rocca went on to score solo clubs hits such as I Want It to Be Real, Once Upon a Time, et al.

  2. I am fully aware that the band continued to record following their debut long player, but they had effectively become a duo. The disintegration I refer to was the original line up. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Apologies for being over a year behind here but I have to agree, I think the album is a fantastic piece of work, and such a shame that the band changed styles so soon. The three tracks above are, I think, the cream of the album, and title tune still makes me tingle as soon as the opening notes are played – evocatively taking me back to the time but holds its own contemporarily. The album reminds me of Level 42’s eponymous debut album (again, the style didn’t last for long, unfortunately) and as debut albums go, is almost on a par with Incognito’s, Jazz Funk, in my humble opinion. As you say, it would have been great to see the band continue in the same style, at least for one more album. But what we have is fantastic.

  4. Apologies for being over a year behind here but I have to agree, I think the album is a fantastic piece of work, and such a shame that the band changed styles so soon. The three tracks above are, I think, the cream of the album, and title tune still makes me tingle as soon as the opening notes are played – evocatively taking me back to the time but holds its own contemporarily. The album reminds me of Level 42’s eponymous debut album (again, the style didn’t last for long, unfortunately) and as debut albums go, is almost on a par with Incognito’s, Jazz Funk, in my humble opinion. As you say, it would have been great to see the band continue in the same style, at least for one more album. But what we have is wonderful.

    • It represents a time and place in my life too Paul. A time of organic grooves, real instrumentation and skillful musicianship, no auto tune and groups that were substance before style. I agree with you on the Level 42 comparison, who as you say changed style after their debut. Thanks for the comment!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s