RAMP: Come Into Knowledge (Label: Blue Thumb)

Wednesday, 07 November 2007 11:01 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

RAMP: Come Into Knowledge

Forgotten cult soul-funk group, RAMP began life as Saturday Night Special, a Cincinnati-based covers band formed in 1975 by guitarist, Landy Shores, and drummer, John Manuel, who had previously earned a crust backing up the Spinners on US tour dates. Roy Ayers got to hear the band a year later after a recommendation from Spinner, Billy Henderson, and suitably impressed, signed them to ABC's Blue Thumb imprint where he had a production deal going. Ayers rechristened the band RAMP (an acronym for Roy Ayers Music Productions) and helmed this ultra-rare one-off LP in 1977, which was largely forgotten until A Tribe Called Quest used 'Daylight' from the album as the basis for their 1990 smash hit 'Bonita Applebum.' Now available on CD for the first time, 'Come Into Knowledge' proves to be an absorbing cache of jazz-infused funk and ethereal cosmic soul. There's a great version of Ayers' summer anthem, 'Everybody Loves The Sunshine' - originally issued by the group as a single - but the searing guitar-driven funk of the album's opener, 'The American Promise', is even better and reminiscent, perhaps, of the vibes maestro's classic track, '2000 Black,' from a few years earlier. This is not surprising, perhaps, given the extent of Ayers' input - he's the sole producer here and pens/co-pens all but one of the album's nine songs. Sonically, then, the album differs little from Ayers' Ubiquity LPs from the same timeframe though it's distinguished by a conspicuous absence of the great man's signature vibraphone sound. The group's two lead female vocalists, Sharon Matthews and Sibel Thrasher, offer something different, contributing a spacey, soulful vibe to the proceedings, especially on the ballad, 'I Just Love You,' the haunting title track and the dreamy 'Daylight.' A tremendous reissue, despite the disappointing absence of liner notes.
(CW) 4/5

 

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