Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Various Artists
Mellow Mellow Volume 1

Released 2000 on Harmless
Reviewed by Joe Kenney, 29/03/2004ce

Subtitled "Original 1970s Smooth Grooves & Chilled Breaks," Volume 1 of Mellow Mellow features chilled out soul and funk tracks that have been sampled by hip and trip-hoppers. In fact, Mellow Mellow proves that trip-hop in reality wasn't such a radically new form of music. All of the tracks on here were made in the mid-to-late '70s, and each of them sound just as original and timeless as any trip-hop track you could name.

Every track is a stand-out, but if I could only name a few: there's Lowrell's "Mellow Mellow, Right On," which grooves along with an icy beat (Massive Attack sampled this one for their song "Lately"); the Fatback Band funk it up with "Feed Me Your Love;" Al Green gets soulful over a funky drummer beat (which MA sampled on their Blue Lines lp) on "I'm Glad You're Mine;" Curtis Mayfield combines his silky vocals with a post-disco groove on "Tripping Out;" and Kool and the Gang get amazingly mellow on the jazzy "Summer Madness," which, incredibly enough, was recorded live, and features an awesome synthesizer solo.

Two of the top tracks, "Daylight" and "Everybody Loves the Sunshine," are by RAMP, a forgotten, Roy Ayers-produced soul group who released their sole lp, "Come Into Knowledge," in 1977 (it still hasn't been issued on CD, but was re-issed on vinyl a few years ago). Forgotten in their day, RAMP are now much admired by soul-jazz connoisseurs. Very advanced for their time, RAMP sounds like a modern trip-hop group, with icy drums, fat basslines, hypnotic grooves, and trance-inducing vocals. Mellow Mellow is worthy of purchase for these two tracks alone.

This CD is just one of the many jewels in Harmless's crown. It's right up there with As We Travel and Gimme Shelter as one the best of the best from the label.

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