Rafters was a basement club in St James’ Buildings, Oxford Road (later called The Music Box.) The Rafters jazz-funk nights, DJ’d by Colin Curtis and John Grant from 1978-82, were all about jazz-dance virtuosity and fast-and-frantic music.
Mid-80s Berlin Tuesday nights were less highly strung. Based in another basement dive off Deansgate, Colin Curtis and Hewan Clarke offered a music-policy compromise: retro jazz-dance and latin music for the hardcore jazz-dance survivors, followed by slow-groove soul.
Disappointingly, the music at Band On The Wall last Saturday didn’t really include the retro jazz-dance music played at Berlin; instead they played funky 1980s soul with just a few short bursts of Rafters-style frenetic jazz-funk.
This is Danny Henry and a couple of guys dancing to the jazz-funk:
Hewan Clarke played some jazz-funk and jazz-dance early on.
Lonnie Liston Smith – Expansions (1975)
Hank Crawford – Sugar Free
Then Mike Shaft played soul/funk classics of the 1970s and ’80s; songs like Luther Vandross’s ‘Never Too Late’, Roy Ayers’ ‘Running Away’, Postive Force’s ‘We Got The Funk’ and Rose Royce’s ‘Magic Touch':
Rose Royce – Magic Touch (1984)
Colin Curtis didn’t come on until the very end. With his beard and grey hair, tied back in a pony-tail, he looked like a ‘soul viking’! His set was generally more mainstream than I would have expected… or perhaps I’m just more familiar with soul music than I was in the mid-80s. I may have heard these at The Berlin but failed to apprecate them because they were slow-tempo:
Gwen McCrae – Funky Sensation (1981)
Midnight Star – Curious (1984)
I was really surprised when Colin Curtis played Sister Sledge; it was a really good funky modern remix:
Sister Sledge – Thinking Of You (Dimitri From Paris Remix 2010)
Then, right at the end, he played Isley Brothers’ ‘Harvest For The World’… and it took me right back! I had completely forgotten that this was played every week at Berlin – and this was before The Christians covered it (and ruined it for everyone.)
Isley Brothers – Harvest For The World (1976)