Ferry and the good funk
The debut album from veteran DJ/Producer Ferry Ultra, „Ferry Ultra & the Homeless Funkers”, provides eleven slices of real deal soul and funk sure to satisfy soul boys and girls across the spectrum. Featuring a veritable who’s who of soul, funk and hip-hop, Ferry Ultra fuses his love for the music of the past with accomplished contemporary production without once losing soul’s essential element: feeling. Live instrumentation (including some soul-affirming punchy horns), strong songwriting and stirring vocals combine on a collection of cuts that mark Ferry Ultra out as a musician and producer of impeccable taste, well-versed in soul’s past, present and future.
The album kicks off at a blistering pace with a juicy slice of discofied new school Northern Soul aimed squarely at the dance floor via the bustling Live My Life featuring Nicole Russo. Rare groove legend, Gwen McCrae commands nothing but respect for her preposterously funky performance on the sass laden modern soul goodie, Let Me Do My Thing. The flow of luminaries continues apace with a typically joyous performance from the inimitable Roy Ayers on the buoyant jazz-funk-soul of Dangerous Vibes, featuring a smile-broadening vibraphone solo from the man himself! Southern Soul troubadour, Ann Sexton proves that she’s lost none of her gutsy vocal abilities on Rising Up, fusing funk, gospel, blues and hip-hop to stellar effect. Ex-Freak Power lead man, Ashley Slater keeps the funk quota at stratospheric levels with some straight-ahead, head- nod vibes on Why Did You Do It. Keeping the ‘Fun’ in the ‘Funk’, hip-hop legend Kurtis Blow drops in halfway through to assist the disco-rap-go go-soul of Wiggle, justifiably recalling memories of proper old school rap from troupes such as The Sugarhill Gang and The Treacherous Three. It’s wonderfully unpretentious, life-affirming music destined to let a little sunshine into even the greyest of existences.
Things calm down for a moment thanks to I Owe My Love to You, a laid back 80s soul groove that unites house legends Ron Carroll and Ten City’s Byron Stingly. The track’s permeated with a nice little Cool Million vibe (not surprising given Rob Hardt’s involvement across the project) and recalls a time when house music artists were unafraid to put out straight ahead soul records. Gwen McCrae pops back up again with the infectious You Make Me Happy; a track that resolutely does what it says on the tin! Jazz and R&B singer, Melva Houston brings more than just A Little Bit of Soul thanks to another confident, soulful performance before band-leader for The Greyboy Allstars, Karl Denson floats in with a sax-led chunk of funk in the shape of the dubiously titled, Blow Job! The album comes to a satisfying close with the sweet soul of Brown Eyed Love featuring the rich tones of Sharon Phillips.
It’s astounding to see this rich and varied list of legendary vocalists and musicians together on such a remarkably cohesive project. “Ferry Ultra and the Homeless Funkers” undoubtedly deserves a home in your record collection!