In order to pay tribute to the many indie labels issuing black music, we’ve decided to profile one or more of these companies each month. For the July issue we’ve chosen the Tuff City Music Group out of New York City, primarily because we recently discovered them ourselves and want to spread the word about their great catalog. Though there are any number of boutique labels in the UK that reissue black music, especially soul and gospel, there are far fewer in the U.S., in part due to lengthier copyright terms. For this reason, we are especially grateful for Tuff City’s longtime commitment to the discovery and release of rare recordings. Vinyl lovers take note─many titles are issued on both LP and CD.
Founded 22 years ago by Aaron Fuchs, a former editor for Cash Box, Tuff City Records began as a hip hop label, issuing material by such notable artists as The 45 King, Cold Crush Brothers, Davy DMX, Lakim Shabazz, Ghetto Philharmonic, and Spoonie Gee, among others. Fuch’s underground record company eventually transitioned to a reissue label and has since “rescued hundreds of blues, jazz, funk, soul and R&B treasures from obscurity,” with a special emphasis on New Orleans funk and soul. Concurrent with the new focus on previously unreleased material came the launch of several subsidiary labels. The Tuff City Music Group now includes:
Ol’ Skool Flava, “the label on which the most popular of Tuff City’s original old school hip hop releases are once again pressed.” New releases include: Captain Rock to the Future Shock: Rare Hip Hop and Electro 1982-1985 (Ol’ Skool Flava CD 4032).
Night Train International issues “obscure blues, jazz, and R&B by such artists as Ray Charles, Lowell Fulson, Jimmy Witherspoon, Johnny Otis, Charles Brown, Jay McShann, and Joe Liggins.” New releases include: Unreleased,by Ray Charles (reviewed in this issue); You Ain’t Nothing but a Teenager, by King Solomon; Searching for a Joy Ride, by George Porter’s Joy Ride (Night Train International CD 7151); and New Orleans Will Rise Again, an anthology featuring songs apropos to the yearnings and hopes of the current state of New Orleans’ mind, with all proceeds donated to the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic.
Funky Delicacies issues “should-have-been-classic funk that collectors salivate over, featuring artists like Ike Turner, Andre Williams, Trouble Funk and dozens and dozens of others.” New releases include: Funky Funky New York: Rare & Unreissued NY Funk 1969–1976 (DEL CD 0073); Its Hard Times, by Black Nasty & A.D.C. Band (DEL LP 0076); Funky Funky Soul Folks (DEL LP 0074); and Funky Funky New Orleans 5 (DEL CD 0072).
Soul-Tay-Shus “has brought forth powerful soul from Andre Williams, Lee Rogers, Joe Hunter and others.” New releases include Northern Souljers Meet Hi Rhythm: Rare & Unreleased Jams by Detroit Indies Recorded in Memphis 1965-1968 (Soul-Tay-Shus CD 6357); Detroit, Michigan!: Rare Northern Soul 1965–1968, by The Fabulous Peps (Soul-Tay-Shus CD 6348); and Red Beans & Biscuits, by Andre Williams (Soul-Tay-Shus CD 6361).
Tuff City, the original label, reissues many of the original titles on vinyl and CD. New releases include The Best of YZ (reviewed in this issue) and Grooves For A Quiet Storm by The 45 King (Tuff City CD 3010).
Posted by Brenda Nelson-Strauss