Published Jan 01, 2006This is BBE/Rapster's gift to the UK a CD comprised entirely of unreleased sides from the patron saint of jazz funk, Roy Ayers, culled from his purple patch of 1976 to 81. Inevitably, as with P-Funk, some good stuff got lost in the shuffle. This period finds Ayers having achieved his definitive template of club boogie, influenced by and influencing disco and eventually hip-hop and house with his definitive keyboard, bass and drum patterns. Many songs on Virgin Ubiquity are reminiscent of, or perhaps earlier attempts at, better known anthems. "Sugar" sounds like a cross between "Brother Green" and "Running Away. "Brand New Feeling" sounds like "Everybody Loves the Sunshine, with a self-parodic vocal turn that makes Minnie Riperton seem modest in comparison. What may have consigned some of these tracks to the archives is the lack of finishing touches that makes his classics, well, classic. Nonetheless, there are a few worthy additions to the Ayers canon like "Boogie Down" and on the whole, this collection is more consistent than many of Ayerss classic albums of the period.
Why is Virgin Ubiquity coming out on BBE? When I was with Polygram, I had a production deal. Most artists have an artist deal, therefore when they do material, all their material goes to the record company, forever. My production company did the music and we gave the music to Polygram. Everything we didn't give to them, we retained for ourselves. I talked to BBE's president and said I had tapes from 1970 to 81. [Label boss Peter Adarkwah] came over from England to listen to them. When we started listening to them, he was dancing like Jamiroquai! He was funny, I thought he was flipping out! [Adarkwah] is a club disc jockey, they're completely different than radio DJs, they vibe on the people on another level and it's very personal cause he's right there with the people, seeing their emotions... I realise I picked what I picked but this stuff is hot if not hotter than everything else I have out there.
With Polygram, sometimes you'd put out several albums a year. Did you ever get pressure from the record company to slow down your output? No, it was in my contract I put out two albums a year. There was no static; I was selling at least 300,000 per album. The promotions people would get mad because I'd put out an album in September and they hadn't finished working on the one from March. Universal has been reissuing my records, I sell about 30 to 70 thousand each with no promotion. Now with this album with BBE I think [Universal] will put out even more. (BBE)