Monday, February 20, 2012

Hell Below

by East of Underground, SOAP, The Black Seeds, and The Sound Trek

Despite containing the work of four bands, this small box set put together by the fine people at Now-Again Records have chosen to label and market this under the title East of Underground: Hell Below.

The four bands listed above were all winners in the United States Army Special Services Agency, Europe's Original Magnificent Special Services Entertainment Showband Contests, the first of which was held in 1971, and the second in 1972.  This was basically a 'battle of the bands' held in Germany, with prizes including European tours, professional record pressings, and unofficially but most importantly, deferment from combat in Vietnam.

These bands were made up of servicemen (although I'm not sure who provided the female vocals for the SOAP album), and featured covers of popular funk songs of the day.  Little more is known about these individuals; the people at Now-Again were only able to find one of them to interview, and he had his name listed incorrectly on the original album's liner notes.

So basically, this is a collection of funk covers.  It's mostly pretty good, but I found myself skipping over it in the pile of discs that make up my current musical rotation.  I do admire the work done to preserve this interesting aspect of US history though...

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