Back in 1976, when Philly ruled, disco was gnawing on its umbilical cord and funk relished mating jazz chops with contagious groove action, a 7” import called Zone by The Rhythm Makers caused something of a stir in the clubs with its percolating bass antics, shimmering keyboard whoopee and metronomic groove. That monstrous bass belonged to Bronx-born Keith ‘Sabu’ Crier, the band soon morphing into successful jazz-funk-soul outfit GQ (Good Quality), also featuring singer/guitarist Emanuel Raheim Leblanc, keyboardist Herb Lane and drummer Paul Service.
Top-notch musicians signed to Arista, GQ might have been a little late releasing their Disco Nights (Rock Freak) single in 1978 but, if anything, it gave the besieged movement a boost, topping the R&B chart – even scaling the Billboard Top 20. The following year’s Disco Nights album, produced by Jimmy Simpson (Motown writer Valerie’s brother), consolidated this success.
For 1980’s follow-up, the band relocated to San Francisco, relaxing the disco in favour of a polished strain of breezy sunshine funk, best illustrated by a contagious lead track and single Standing Ovation. Firmly in the Kool-like party-tunes-and-ballads style of the time, the set also includes their cover of Billy Stewart’s Sitting in The Park, the successful second single. Smooth it all is, but genre devotees will cavort and Crier’s bass is a force of nature.