Kelso Cochrane (1937 - 1959)

Oswald Mosley

A Daily Mail front page from 1958

A National Front march in England, circa 1977

The boys in blue at work

Blair Peach (1946 - 1979)


Punk Rock has been much lauded and celebrated over the years, to the point where its place in history is assured. But what about one of the other new music forms which emerged during the same period? The purpose of this site is to explore a forgotten but influential music genre, which occurred between the years of the mid 1970s and the early 1980s. Just like the feather motif on this site, it appears to have been frozen in time, never to be thawed.

The British funk movement evolved from the black American music which was embraced by it's many aficionados in England. This included the raw funk style of James Brown, and the smoother inflections of jazz-fusion artists such as Roy Ayers and Herbie Hancock. But ostensibly, it emerged from the 1970s soul music scene in England, which encompassed not only the mellifluous harmonies of singers and musicians, but also the traditions and intricacies of jazz, and even classical compositions.

Although there were multi-racial bands like The Olympic Runners and the mainly caucasian group the Average White Band around Britain at the time, many of the performers of Brit-funk as it was later called were first generation black Britons, who would sometimes portray the social problems they faced in their songs. For example, in the London area during the late 1970s and early 1980s, while travelling together or alone they would often attract the attention of the Metropolitan Police’s SPG (Special Patrol Group), which while it was in existence mercilessly upheld the suss laws that gave them free reign to stop anyone anywhere at any time, on suspicion of them committing or about to commit a crime. The unusually high number of black men being harassed and stopped on the streets back then, was even addressed in the song The Boys in Blue by Light of the World, who along with Hi -Tension were among the most commercially successful bands in the national charts at the time. This alongside the frequent deprivation and discrimination that many minorities suffered since the 1950s, culminated in a number of riots and civil unrest against the police across the country during the spring and summer of 1981. These events though not a first in Britain, were seen as a turning point in race relations. But the Conservative government in power at the time did not take heed of Lord Scarman’s inquiry conducted afterward or his report, which recommended changes in policing and Government social policy. So yet more violence returned to the streets of Birmingham and North London in the middle of the 1980s. Although the suss laws were eventually repealed, the police are still able to stop and search, but with much more consideration of a suspect's rights. Fortunately, the black experience - good and bad - gave some of the young musicians material to write about, and inspired them to excel in their craft. All was not lost, as their progression through the 1980s would prove.

Brit-funk was a style of music which was unique to England. Although American artists influenced it heavily, their sound was actually quite different as Brit-funk had a raw and much more quirky feel, which often caused it to attract criticism from certain quarters of the music press as being not as good as the American’s. The point was, many of the bands at the time did not intend to be ersatz versions of US groups, and the exuberance of their releases could certainly not cause them to be confused with any in most instances. And although they were not always the most accomplished of musicians, they made up for this deficiency with their unabashed enthusiasm. Their influences are very apparent however, from Earth Wind and Fire, Brass Construction and The Fatback Band, to Kool and the Gang, The Commodores, and most probably where Light of the World are concerned, The Blackbyrds.

Many of the aspiring soul and funk bands of the time in England, were usually able to launch themselves by doing gigs in pubs, and PAs (Public Appearances) in nightclubs and bars. This would often enable them to build a following in their local area, and usually encouraged bands to scrape together enough money to produce demo singles. Many of them had to also finance themselves through mundane jobs. Because of their relatively close proximity to one another, many of the groups who originated from the areas of London and Essex who often appeared at the same venues together, knew each other quite well, and would even perform on each other’s records. This apparently incestuous dynamic, helped to nurture what was to become a highly creative scene.

The seminal LP from 1969

The influencial and classic Thrust LP from 1974

The album that gave us Summer Madness

Spot the difference between this 1976 LP...

...and this one from 1980