The Rhythm Makers's Soul On Your Side is flawless proto-disco funk. The Bronx-based band - that later went on to form heavyweight disco outfit GQ - originally released this treasure in 1976 and it's long been a hard to find record. It's also rare to find a record this hard. Captivating funk at its rawest, no doubt.
Storming out the gate with the rollicking Loft/Garage staple "Can You Feel It (Part 1)", the listener is immediately put on notice that this LP is just a little bit special. The title track, "Soul On Your Side", is a classic dancer and the basis of GQ's future hit "Disco Nights". But it's perhaps "Zone", a huge Baldelli track, that the record is best known for. Hypnotic psyched-out cosmic-disco / cosmic funk, it's an unrelenting groove that really thrusts the party into hyperdrive. With doses of scintillating Latin and pulsating African rhythms driving the pumping tune, atop an unstoppable bassline and imaginative, soul-slathered keyboard figures, it's basically a full-on funk assault. You might need a lie-down after this.
But there's no let-up on the B-Side, immediately grooving thanks to "Funk-N-You", a laidback glider that just rolls in the sleek style. Gorgeous harmony skills are displayed on "Street Dreamin'". Beautiful and gritty funk, by turns. "You're My Last Girl" is an airy ballad with two leads before the legendary "Monterey" enters the fray. A much-sampled instrumental and heavy disco-funk nugget, it contains an amazing B-Boy drum break making the whole LP worth the price of admission. "Can You Feel It (Part 2)" closes out this spectacular set.
The Rhythm Makers had been gigging around New York City since the late ’60s, having initially come together as Sabu and the Survivors, named after bassist Keith “Sabu” Crier. They eventually - for this album at least! - settled on The Rhythm Makers and cut one record for the small De-Lite subsidiary Vigor. The core lineup featured Crier, keyboardist Herb Lane, drummer Kenny Banks and rhythm guitarist Rahiem Leblanc.
Mastered for vinyl by Simon Francis, cut by Cicely Balston for Alchemy at AIR Studios with artwork restored at Be With HQ, this new edition should hopefully bring this album into the homes and record boxes of many more people.