Label: Funk Embassy Records
The groovier side of Iron Curtain is uncovered by Funk Embassy Records via the 11-track LP, out on 12″ vinyl and CD. Recorded between 1974-1988, the compilers have unearthed funk, disco, soul, jazz, instrumentals, library music and covers from the Estonian Radio archives. This is the sound of ESSR (Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic) as heard at music halls, radio, TV shows and cafeterias along with underground parties and semilegal jazz clubs.
The selection ranges from folk-funk, psychedelic soul, dancefloor certified disco, Isaac Hayes reminiscent blues-funk, contemplative jazz-funk, Piero Umiliani-esque library music, funk-rock, in-your-face b-boy break to a flute-led master piece by Uno Naissoo – one of the founders of the Estonian jazz scene who organized the notorious Tallinn Jazz Festivals (1949-1967).
Some of the tracks have never been heard outside their initial recording, like the unreleased instrumental versions by the Estonian TV and Radio Estrada Orchestra “Kesköösamba” (1977); and “Mälestuste Teel” (1974, trnl. “On The Road of Memories”); a cover of Carita Holmström, “Näed vaid oma silmi” with the former Soviet child star Tiiu Varik belting her unique-timbred guts out. Other tracks are local classics, that have seen the light of day before, be it cassettes, compilation CDs or repressed vinyls.
Inspired by the resurgence of the spirit of Funk around the globe, the compilers have taken the intention to give a taste of Estonian music of the bygone Soviet era, during which the government attempted to control the artists and music being made. Nevertheless, a lot of influences made it through, as ESSR was the westernmost country in the Soviet Union. Since 1970s, Estonia’s been a surprisingly fruitful ground for funk, soul, disco and jazz music. Just as well, contemporary acts like Misha Panfilov Sound Combo, Lexsoul Dancemachine and Estrada Orchestra have been well received in Europe and US. Archive findings by Frotee Records (e.g. Velly Joonas – Stopp Seisku Aeg), Peoples Potential Unlimited (e.g. Uku Kuut and Maryn releases) and Hyper Records (Collage represess) have met excited feedback. This LP serves as a worthy addition to introduce the small country’s musical legacy.