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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A Secret Stash of Fake(?) Funk

Recently, I've picked up some releases on a label called Secret Stash. The albums seemed right up my alley, claiming to be lost porn and blaxploitation soundtracks, funk from Russia and a reggae version of Kind of Blue. However, something about these albums just didn't seem quite right.

Each one of these records is kind of mysterious, which already set alarms off with me. Absolute minimal credits and a suspiciously perfect backstory accompany each record. Me being me, I wanted more info about what I was listening to. If the recordings were really as obscure as they claimed, not knowing the musicians who played wasn't out of the question. But, I figured there should be some reference somewhere to some of the movies the tracks from Porno Grooves are from. Or surely someone is looking for that lost blaxploitation film Mad Dog's Hustle.

Suspiciously, all the information I found about the Porn Groove and Mad Dog's Hustle albums either linked back to those albums or a source which took Secret Stash's promo material verbatim. In other words, outside the scope of these albums, these movies don't seem to exist.

Regarding the Soviet Funk albums, they sure smell fishy, if they aren't out right fakes. This blog post, was one of the first I found and it led me to this message board thread. Pretty damning stuff.

Now I'm not going to say that these releases are fake just because there's no information about the movies or any of the people connected to them out there. And just because there are some wonky Russian titles doesn't necessarly mean it's a fake either. But the evidence sure casts a heap of doubt on the authenticity of these records.

But does it matter? If the music is good, does it really matter where it came from? Well, I kind of think in this case it does. If you're selling something as vintage Russian funk, it's kind of shady to have some guys from the local throw it together for you. I took an interest in these records because of what I thought they were and yeah, I feel a little ripped off that they appear to be fakes.

So how is the music anyway? Well, the one record I haven't mentioned, the Reggae Interpertation of Kind of Blue is very good, though the dub versions on the B side are lacking. The Porno Groove and Mad Dog's Hustle albums are pretty much standard library sounding tracks. Mad Dog leans a little heavier in a blaxplotation groove. Not too bad, but neither is essential.

However, when it comes to the Soviet Funk albums, the origin and back story on the records isn't the only bit of questionable labeling. To be generous, one could call these Jazz-Funk records, but really they are more in an early 70s fusion bag than anything like funk. Aside from not being what I expected, there really wasn't anything that grabbed me on the records. That could be because I was expecting Meters and James Brown and got Return to Forever and Weather Report.

If I'm wrong about these releases being fake, I'd be the first to admit it. I'd also be very suprized. It seems to me like Secret Stash has wrapped some pretty average music in an interesting, but phony, back story and put it out there. Oh well, at least the colored vinyl is nice.

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