The mighty BBE have unearthed another ultra rare gem with ‘The People’s Workshop - Houston Talent Expo ‘82’ album. Originally referred to as the 'Pop Music Lab', The People’s Workshop was formed in 1976 at Texas Southern University as a space for students to compose and perform, free from the constraints of Western classical music education. ‘Houston Talent Expo '82’ features original compositions by members of The Peoples' Workshop, performed exclusively by a selection of crack musicians from Houston. The songs vary in style, but remain centered around gospel, funk and soul with a large heap of the church throughout. This isn’t just some local open mic talent show, there is some serious music going on here, many of the musicians going on to work with world class artists like Alice Coltrane (John Henderson, the ace vocalist on opening cut ‘Let’s Get High’) and The Charles Mingus band.
Positivity and righteous community vibes abound on the songs with titles like ‘Why Do I Need An Education’ and ‘Save Your Money’, imagine Donny Hathaway writing tracks for Sesame Street and you’ll get the gist. Children’s choirs, slippery basslines, jazzy guitar licks (check Nigerian legend Richard Asikpo on ‘Let’s Get High’) and huge lead vocals by a myriad of singers I’ve never heard anywhere else. All of the tracks on the album were recorded in 1982 but a lot of them could have been released a decade previously, the resemblance to the music on Motown’s huge ‘Save The Children’ concert and album of the same name is startling. Hard funk/disco cuts like ‘Funkathone’ and the disjointed ‘Stand Up For Jesus’ add some dancefloor propulsion to the warm gospel soul of the rest of the album.
The People’s Workshop project remained dormant between 1997 and 2013 due to lack of funding, but returned in 2014. If the vibes are right, quality music like this will emerge again from a new generation.
Released very shortly on BBE, buy here!!
Review by Ex-Friendly