Dayton does not play when it comes to funk. There’s something about the the western Ohio locale which makes it so conducive to good music. The city is the origin to a slew of influential funk artists which had their heyday in the late ’70s and ’80s, including The Ohio Players, Zapp, Lakeside (of “Fantastic Voyage” fame), artist Steve Arrington, p-funk phenom Walter “Junie” Morrison (…rest in power!), and right here, Slave. I mean, damn, what a pedigree!
Slave was formed in 1975 by trumpeter Steve Washington and bassist Mark Hicks. The initially seven-member strong band, while somewhat overshadowed by their fellow Daytonian acts, forged an impressive musical streak in the late ’70s, making hard, rump-shaking, heavy funk. Towards the end of the decade the group switched up their style a bit, adding members Steve Arrington, Starleana Young, and Curt Jones, and venturing into a sleeker and softer style of funk. Their sound became something a bit more romantic than rambunctious, and it was on their fourth album, 1979’s Just A Touch of Love, they made the perfect soundtrack for a foxy night out.
“Just A Touch of Love” is the opener to the album, and an awesome listen at that. I mean, do you hear that bassline provided by “Drac” Hicks, though?! That bass is a large reason why I had to post this one tonight. It gives me life! The rest of the band doesn’t slouch either, making for a fleet and refined composition, effortlessly gliding along like a bird in flight. The funk is infectious and mature, with a hint of a disco, and Arrington’s lead vocals on here absolutely shine. This listen is so damn cool and danceable; it’s no wonder that it became another hit for the group and a staple for black radio. This evening, take a moment and vibe out with this one.