F.B.I. – 1976 – F.B.I.

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F.B.I. were a UK-based outfit, much in the same vein as Average White Band and Kokomo, with maybe a slightly more raw and edgy feel to their range. Boasting a male and female lead, the nine-piece were clearly destined for bigger and better things. But alas, this solitary album from 1976 is the only fruits of this carnation of the band. However, although cruelly neglected in its day, we are pleased to give you the chance to enjoy a mixture of funk, rhythm and blues, calypso, reggae and soul that you might just fall in love with.

This is a @320 CD rip of the Soul Brother Records CD including covers.

Tracks
A1 F.B.I. 4.58
A2
Talking About Love 6.25
A3
Love, Love, Love 4.23
A4
Free Prison 5.17
B1
The Time Is Right to Leave the City 3.30
B2
Bad Deal 4.27
B3
Let Me Love You 4.56
B4
Keep on Running 9.18
CD Bonus
Get That Ball 4.40

Review by Trakbuv

F.B.I. stood for Funky Bands Inc and were a UK-based outfit that operated between 1974 and 1978. They were a nine-piece band with two lead vocalists, one female (Bonnie Wilkinson) and one male (Root Jackson). They were formed by Root and trumpeter Herscel Holder, who is probably the primary inspiration behind the brassy Tower of Power horny horns that drive many of the funk-powered tracks. Apparently, they were originally ‘thrown together’ as ‘Bakel’ to back Eddie Floyd with just 5 hours for rehearsal. They went on to perform as backing band for the likes of Ben E King and Percy Sledge before deciding to make a go of it in their own right. The remainder of the band included Jaime Black (guitar, flute), Lloyd Smith (sax), Lennox Meade (bass), Raffi Pereira (guitar), Alan Fealdman (keys), and Stephen Dixon (drums).

Root Jackson had already tasted vinyl with several releases on the Beacon label in the late sixties as Root & Jenny (his cousin) Jackson, including an incredible, storming version of Aretha’s ‘Save Me – search this out at your peril !! For F.B.I., their big break came after their initial gigs got rave reviews and caught the attention of Ten Years After guitarist, Alvin Lee. Clearly Alvin was enamoured by their charisma and provided the opportunity to capture it at his Hook End Manor studio near Reading, UK, the album being released on the Good Earth imprint via RCA in 1976. It was produced by Chris Kimsey who later worked his magic for Peter Tosh and the Rolling Stones. On the strength of its release, they went on to support acts as prestigious as Kool and the Gang and the Temptations.

F.B.I. 1976 LP label 1

Their self-titled debut was warmly received by radio jocks in the UK. Like their UK contemporaries (AWB and Kokomo spring to mind), it is that vision of a stage presence that really carries this record from the turntable and into our lives. Indeed, the first track,F.B.I, really is AWB at their brassy finest – those crazy horn riffs spicing up an ever-changing rhythmic base, you can almost smell the sweat off the frenzied audience. Fabulous. Talking About Love has a special place in my imaginary DJs box as I recall this getting heavy airplay at the time of release. Easily Bonnie’s best vocal and an awesome triumph of melody and ingenuity. This earns every second of its 6 and a half minute length. Spectacular. Their version of JR Bailey‘sLove Love Loveis very pleasant and a delightful inclusion in keeping the vibe varied, showcasing both Root’s and Bonnie’s mildly limited but very warm vocal stylings. And another one of my favourites on here,Free Prisonis a stunning marriage of spiritualism and music – the whole ambience is gently engaging and wonderfully realised as we float and soar with its message. Glorious.

The calypso-driven The time is rightchanges the vibe again, this time conjuring up the joy of Notting Hill’s carnival and clearly a crowd pleaser. Far stronger for me is the African-influenced Bad deal reminding me of Manu Dibango – yes it’s that good. And both tracks carrying powerful condemnations of inner city life. Then we have the sole ballad on the LP, but it certainly is no obligatory attempt to provide a well-rounded album. This is a wafting beauty that hits you with the caress of a summer breeze. And it is a real grower – Let me love you is another of my faves. Probably my least favourite is their version of Stevie’s Keep on running, but it is a lively inclusion that was probably an established part of their touring repertoire. As a bonus track, there is a cover version of Patsy Gallant’sGet the ball hit from ’72 – an intriguing choice of song, but a decent rendition nonetheless.

In 1986, Root Jackson decided to re-unite much of the force behind FBI, into a revised version aptly entitled Unfinished Business. They released a CD in 1991 entitledFreestyle which was a somewhat forgettable collection of originals, with only the reggaefied Unjust laws really catching my ear. However, Bonnie (now Colette) Wilkinson was later recruited back to the ranks, and the CD Funkin’ with da Blues released in 2003 was a much more confident affair, with a revised tag for the group, UFBI. Root’s eldest daughter, Vernessa Simon also released a couple of CDs in the 90s, her wonderful second (Definitive Source) being a proud member of my collection. He has also being heralded as an inspiration by artists such as Omar, Jamiroquai, Mica Paris and Incognito. And his own Congo record label was responsible for Omar’s first LP release all those moons ago.

This is an essential peek into the British funk sound of the mid-seventies, maybe not as gifted as the premier US bands of the time, yet a vital part of the scene with definitely something uniquely exciting to bring to the party. Savour the flavour and educate your mind !

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Buy the original vinyl on discogs from 79€. Reissue vinyl from CDandLP for 22€ and a CD from Amazon or Ebay.


Enjoy the music and please say at least “Thanks” to Trakbuv who spent so much time to research and write the review – as he always do.
The whole text is original as all Trakbuv’s reviews and as he mailed me just before I post it :I have finally finished it – this is one of those rare occasions where MOST my research actually gets to be INCLUDED in the post !!  Most the time the details conflict, run to dead ends, and don’t have enough info to give a full picture.  So I like to make the most when I can demonstrate my time and effort !!”

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Conversation for album: F.B.I. – 1976 – F.B.I.

45 Comments
  • Trakbuv
    Posted at 20:44h, 17 October 2010 Reply

    Ha ha ha – you old scoundrel Nikos !! Of course, as I also wrote – I love doing the research not just to uncover the knowledge, but also discover other gems that I would otherwise be oblivious to. And it is all part of the dream, brother Nikos. To spread the music while showing a deep respect for the artists involved. What more can a soul lover ask for ? – and you dear Nikos have given me that rare opportunity to repay a small fraction of the joy and importance this music has been to me throughout my life. These artists cannot begin to grasp the value of their music to our getting from one day to the next. Maybe now more than ever. If feelings could be expressed as the weather rather than just words, everyone would need sunglasses to read our blog !!

  • Jeffpop77
    Posted at 12:36h, 18 October 2010 Reply

    Great funk. Thank you.

  • rich
    Posted at 21:42h, 18 October 2010 Reply

    great post nikos and thanx tralbuv for the review much appreciated.

  • jahcisco
    Posted at 00:12h, 19 October 2010 Reply

    Thanks. Much appreciated.

  • Warren
    Posted at 01:59h, 19 October 2010 Reply

    Excellent work guys! Peace and Love.

  • Robert
    Posted at 04:21h, 19 October 2010 Reply

    Thanks to you both Nikos and Trakbuv,you guys make a great tag team!!

  • Seth
    Posted at 09:58h, 19 October 2010 Reply

    Thanks for another great British Funk gem of an album. Outstanding review/research. Keep the faith.

  • mellowgangsta
    Posted at 19:54h, 19 October 2010 Reply

    again and again you both hit me with your excellent work! great post and as well a wonderful edutainment brother Trakbuv.
    Stay tuned for all of the sisters ‘n’ brothers of soul who don’t know these gems like me! thank you thank you thank you…..

  • johjns
    Posted at 19:27h, 19 October 2010 Reply

    Woe great post many thanks!!!!!!!!!!

  • Frog
    Posted at 00:48h, 20 October 2010 Reply

    Such a pleasure listening to a band I’ve never heard before. Brilliant, funky tunes. Thanks so much.

  • Rich
    Posted at 02:31h, 20 October 2010 Reply

    Thanks, needed some new soul in my life. Love the version of Stevie’s “keep on running.”

    – obsessed with soul since i was 5 fan

  • Simon666
    Posted at 06:19h, 20 October 2010 Reply

    great stuff Nikos and Trakbuv, many thanks for all your work guys!

  • Kelly Peter
    Posted at 08:40h, 20 October 2010 Reply

    Gave this one a listen.. admittedly, not my cup of tea.. but wow! thank you so much for the Eddie Hinto post! Really enjoying that record! cheers

  • bowlisha1
    Posted at 02:27h, 21 October 2010 Reply

    Trakbuv, your comment here has said it all. What more could a soul music lover ask for than a site such as this with folks like yourself giving us such a wealth of information. This is why Funk My Soul is the premier blog that it is. It’s not just the music it’s the bio’s! I have not downloaded anything for some months and I don’t get to visit nearly as often as I would like to due to health reasons but when I do come I spend hours here just reading. Trakbuv, Nikos and everyone else I can’t thank you enough for all you have given me/us. I really really really appreciate you all.

  • invisiblenigma
    Posted at 03:19h, 21 October 2010 Reply

    Great bio on this group, Trakbuv. I can’t wait to hear this. Much thanks Guys!!!

  • Vernon
    Posted at 10:28h, 21 October 2010 Reply

    Another brilliant contribution to soul – funk lovers all over the word. Respect!

  • Brotherpete
    Posted at 23:33h, 22 October 2010 Reply

    great once again, thanks!

  • Orson
    Posted at 18:34h, 23 October 2010 Reply

    Another great offering by FMS team. Very enjoyable funky album.Thank u.

  • Mandy
    Posted at 23:08h, 24 October 2010 Reply

    thank you. I’ve never heard these guys.

  • Benjamin
    Posted at 23:12h, 24 October 2010 Reply

    Fantastic album! I discovered it in the 90’s and was blown away.
    Thanks!

  • Gamon
    Posted at 01:17h, 26 October 2010 Reply

    Thank you so much for this wonderful UK gem.

  • Desmond
    Posted at 17:40h, 26 October 2010 Reply

    Oh wow! I am really digging this band. The horns are so on point. Thank you so much nikos. I really love this band. Never even knew about them until now, thanks to you.

  • Amanda
    Posted at 15:57h, 27 October 2010 Reply

    The vocals, music, lyrics and musicianship is pure magic… Thanks for the discovery.

  • Cos Costa
    Posted at 11:39h, 29 October 2010 Reply

    Many thanks, keep up your great work!

  • Laura
    Posted at 01:57h, 30 October 2010 Reply

    We play it almost every night since you post it. Brilliant!

  • Matt
    Posted at 11:49h, 30 October 2010 Reply

    I din’t know this one and haven’t seen it elsewhere.
    A great post 🙂
    Many thanks

  • DrHaN
    Posted at 14:21h, 31 October 2010 Reply

    I have never heard of this before, but the review made me download it to hear the music. Since then “Free Prison” and “Let Me Love You” are on repeat. Great share.

  • Gabriel
    Posted at 02:05h, 02 November 2010 Reply

    Love it.

  • Notis
    Posted at 18:50h, 02 November 2010 Reply

    You have a killer blog.! Thanks for your uploads, are all excellent.

  • whoknows
    Posted at 08:07h, 13 November 2010 Reply

    this is siiick, gonna let me friend know about it, the man who introduced me to slave, SKYY etc haha he’ll love em!

  • Tony
    Posted at 10:13h, 21 November 2010 Reply

    Thank you Trakbuv

  • The 1 & The Only Mikey
    Posted at 22:39h, 23 December 2010 Reply

    Both of you have done abosolutely magnificent job here, fellas!Period.Gotta give ya props.Safe 4 this amazing post Niko! Fantastic stuff Trakbuv! A killa blog dat! Defo! Bless!!! Keep up this unbelievably good work,much appreciated! Peace

  • Bran
    Posted at 14:23h, 16 January 2011 Reply

    Damn that’s some LP now. Thank you so much for introduce me to such a good thing.

  • Bob
    Posted at 01:28h, 26 January 2011 Reply

    First heard this group back in ’76. The album had just been released. Herschel had a relative in Guyana who had a copy. It was fantastic. I was listening to groups like the Brass Construction which featured another Guyanese horn player at the time…and as a teenager was blown away.

  • George
    Posted at 04:46h, 29 January 2011 Reply

    Thanks!

  • Mike
    Posted at 02:54h, 03 February 2011 Reply

    I saw these guys at the Rochester Castle in Stoke Newington, ’76-77? Great evening, and I still have the vinyl album. I’ve spent 30+ years playing in, and listening to bands of all types, and these guys were great! I haven’t played the album for a number of years, but it’s on the list to digitize, and I still here “The Time is Right to Leave the City!” as if I were still there. If I saw they were on somewhere today, I’d buy a ticket!

  • Click Dark
    Posted at 04:49h, 12 August 2011 Reply

    Great band, great research! Y’all on Fire! -Click

  • Moussa
    Posted at 08:52h, 11 January 2012 Reply

    Thanks a lot everybody, to all the people who have been working on this.

  • Pike Bishop
    Posted at 20:30h, 23 July 2012 Reply

    Nice one,a friend of mine saw the band live,many moons ago.He said they were the dogs bollox.Slainte

  • thegroove
    Posted at 14:00h, 22 November 2013 Reply

    The music on this site is special. The research and write ups are simply phenomenal! Talk about helping to craft a deeper appreciation amongst listeners. Perfect.

  • Cristiano
    Posted at 21:40h, 03 July 2015 Reply

    I might be quite late to the party but thanks for this CD!! Root Jackson is still singing and if you are in London he is every Sunday 10pm at the Prince of Wales pub in Kilburn, 101 Willesden Lane. They are now called the RumBand!! Seriously they are awesome (no I don’t play for the band haha).

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 22:09h, 17 August 2015 Reply

    Forgive me but didn’t Bobby Tench sing and play guitar with them on occasions? I might have been drink addled at the time but I’m sure I saw him with them at The Marquee back in the day. I followed Gass for many years and the fortunes of Godfrey Maclean and DeLisle Harper once the band had split up. Godfrey for me is one of the finest drummers I have ever seen or heard, and Lisle’s bass playing well—-what can you say. Most people in the world have heard him and they don’t know it. If you’ve seen Reservoir Dogs you’ve heard him. Fantastic guy and a fantastic bass player.

  • Topaz Bon
    Posted at 05:13h, 07 January 2016 Reply

    Great album and it’s a shame they only made the one. Thanks so much for putting this up.

    • Graham Hayman
      Posted at 17:49h, 16 June 2016 Reply

      There is an excellent copy of this vinyl record GDS 802 coming up for auction tomorrow 17th June. Register at http://www.wessexauctionrooms.co.uk to view the catalogue. It is Lot 404a
      You might also be interested in Lot 386.
      Good luck
      Gramps

  • Marcos
    Posted at 02:17h, 23 February 2016 Reply

    Thank you so much for the time and effort to produce these reviews and provide us with this music on such a beautifully curated website. I am in awe of your collective knowledge and generosity. Thank you so much.

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