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Do You Wanna Get Funky With Me: “The TK Records Story” Mines Disco Gold

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The TK Records StoryIt’s been said that the greatest music is transporting, to another time or another place.  If that’s true, it was no secret where the sounds of TK Records intended to transport the listener.  Henry Stone’s TK family of labels originated in Miami, Florida, and the sleeve artwork for TK’s singles featured a tropical setting of palm trees, bright flowers and pristine waters.  That serene scene serves as the cover for Gold Legion’s new TK Records Story (67094 562442 7), a 12-track anthology of disco gems from the label originally issued between 1976 and 1978.

TK was at the forefront of the disco revolution when George McCrae’s “Rock Your Baby” reached No. 1 on the U.S. Pop chart in 1974.  “Rock Your Baby” is usually considered the second bona fide disco track to reach that coveted spot, following another “Rock” song – The Hues’ Corporation’s “Rock the Boat.”  TK was so named for Terry Kane, the engineer who built Henry Stone’s studio, and counted singer/producer Steve Alaimo among its personnel.  Alaimo had credits ranging from Burt Bacharach to Gregg Allman, and gained national fame hosting Dick Clark’s Where the Action Is.  As Vice President, he proved a good match for the entrepreneurial Stone, and the duo didn’t have to look very far to discover a smash act when they discovered Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch working in the TK warehouse.  Casey and Finch not only produced “Rock Your Baby,” but as the core of KC & The Sunshine Band notched 15 chart hits (of which five were No. 1s) between 1975 and 1979.

So it might be a surprise that both George McCrae and KC & The Sunshine Band are absent from The TK Records Story.  Like its semi-companion volume, The Salsoul Records Story, this new compilation doesn’t tell the whole story of its titular label.  Other big hits from the TK family of labels are missing – Anita Ward’s “Ring My Bell” (No. 1, 1979) and Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t For Love” (No. 9, 1978), to name two.  But the twelve songs here paint a strong and vivid picture of the days when TK ruled the disco roost alongside labels like Casablanca and of course, Salsoul.

Stone’s TK family encompassed such labels as Dash, Drive, Alston, Royal Flush, LRC, SRI and Marlin, and all of those are represented here.  Like Salsoul (and of course, Motown and Philadelphia International), TK had a nominal “house band.”  In his foreword, Stone praises his own rhythm section of Benjamin “Benny” Latimore, Little Beaver, Timmy Thomas, Ish Ledesma and George “Chocolate” Perry.  They brought a funky flavor to TK’s disco recordings which lent themselves first to extended twelve-inch mixes and much later to hip-hop sampling.  (Every track on the new compilation was released in the 12-inch format, and all told, TK issued more than 200 twelve-inch singles worldwide.)

Head straight to paradise after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 26, 2013 at 13:15