The legendary funk band Slave (at that time ten-piece strong) scored high on the black charts in 1977 with the song “Slide” (also sampled by Prof. Griff and A Tribe Called Quest). Under the soulful artistic direction of Stevie Washington, the band produced three LPs (Slave; The Hardness of the World; and The Concept). Authentic black music from the 70s where the sparks truly fly.
Stevie Washington left the band to work with other bands like Aurra and Dejá, leaving most of the creative control in the hands of bassist Marc Adams. The sound became more aggressive and contemporary. In the early 1980s, they once again made an impact in the dance circuit with the song Just a touch of love from the LP Just a touch of love. Steve Arrington (drummer turned singer) contributed his vocals to this LP and the subsequent ones, Stone Jam, Showtime and his solo albums Hall of fame –weak at the knees– and Positive power). “The Hanselor,” as the bassist called himself, went on to produce four more LPs for his band, with “Visions of the Lite” (1983) being the one that most closely matches the success of “Smokin’ and ‘wait for me‘.” After that, the band seemed to be “searching.”
While the brass instruments were replaced by synthesizers, their unique funk sound was preserved on every record. Unfortunately, that respectable persistence kept the group in the realm of the underground. Perhaps intentionally so, as I have never witnessed a music video by Slave. In 1988, the LP “Slave ’88” was released, featuring the ’88 remake of the song “Slide”; yet, this attempt to reintroduce “The Baddest Band in the Land” led to nothing.
Now, in 1990, Slave returns with a new LP. With only four core members remaining and a series of additional musicians, Marc Adams produced “Rebirth.” The title carries aspirations that indeed raise the question of whether this record can compete with hits from the old school. The first (studio-live) track is almost an exact copy of the song “Come to Blow Ya Mind” from the LP “Visions of the Lite” (funk spectacle). The second track, “The Way You Make Me Dance,” takes the listener to a new dimension of funk. Tight, danceable, and hardcore, thanks in part to the still-shredding guitar sound of Mark-Drac-Hicks (Drac is back). In the tradition of Slave’s ballads, the song “My Everything” is once again a ballad that doesn’t resemble traditional ballads and is therefore successful, albeit for a small audience. In the song “Andy’s Ways,” also in line with tradition, there is a foray into jazz-funk; nothing new under the sun, but delightful.
The remaining part of “Rebirth” could be described as “Slave in 1990.” Danceable funk with a tendency towards heavy metal-funk at times. This album is filled with a great deal of creativity, something that should be more than enough to give Slave another chance in this era of swingbeat, full of copycats and other pests. The LP is a marriage between contemporary dance music and the funk we were accustomed to in the past. (Sounds like an empire to me!)
Unpublished original in Dutch – 1990: