THE ROUND ROBIN MONOPOLY’S PSYCHEDELIC-FUNK RARITY ALPHA REISSUED ON VINYL FOR THE FIRST TIME

THE ROUND ROBIN MONOPOLY’S PSYCHEDELIC-FUNK RARITY ALPHA REISSUED ON VINYL FOR THE FIRST TIME

Craft Recordings and Jazz Dispensary proudly present The Round Robin Monopoly’s Alpha: a rare psychedelic-funk nugget from Stax Records’ hallowed vaults. Featuring the frequently sampled track “Life Is Funky” (as heard in tracks by The Chemical Brothers, LL Cool J, Ice-T, and Public Enemy), the 1974 album will return to vinyl for the first time in 50 years on June 28th, while it will make its digital debut in both standard and HD audio. The latest title in Jazz Dispensary’s album-centric Top Shelf series—which reissues the highest-quality, hand-picked rarities—Alpha was cut from the original analog tapes (AAA) by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI. Rounding out the package is a tip-on jacket, replicating the album’s original art. Very special bundles pairing the album with merchandise and other funky gems are available exclusively on the Craft Recordings store.

 

Led by the Los Angeles-based singer and keyboardist “Round” Robin Lloyd (who gained a following in the ’60s with regional hits like “Do The Slauson” and the mod-era “Kick That Little Foot Sally Ann”), The Round Robin Monopoly was one of a handful of bands that Lloyd assembled during his career. 1974’s Alpha (released on Stax’s short-lived Truth imprint) marked the group’s sole full-length. Despite the album’s deliciously inspired blend of funk, psychedelic pop, and R&B, Alpha never received the fanfare that it so deserved—perhaps due in part to the fact that Stax shuttered its doors less than a year after its release.

 

In the decades that followed, however, the album gained an underground following, coveted by crate-diggers and DJs around the globe. Single “Life Is Funky” (released as a 45 in 1974 and previously featured on Jazz Dispensary’s Cosmic Stash compilation), in particular, became the album’s stand-out track—sampled over the decades by such tastemakers as LL Cool J (1989’s “It Gets No Rougher”), Ice-T (1993’s “It’s On”), Public Enemy (1994’s “Whole Lotta Love Goin on in the Middle of Hell”), and The Chemical Brothers (2002’s “Come With Us”).

 

It’s no surprise that Alpha elicited such interest from other artists. With its heady, cinematic hooks, attention-grabbing horns, and funky guitar licks, the album could easily be mistaken as the soundtrack to a long-lost ’70s action flick. After a tension-filled 18-second-long instrumental intro (“Alpha”), the album kicks into gear with “Average Man.” Setting the tone for the next 30 minutes, the high-energy track showcases Lloyd’s engaging vocals and whip-tight band (which includes conguero Jimmy Lee Thompson of The Isaac Hayes Movement, guitarist Larry Greene, drummer Ollie Lamey Shaft, saxophonist Arnold Barry, trumpeter Leonard Sorvillo, and trombonist Rex White).

 

Other highlights in the dramatic ten-track journey include the afore-mentioned “Life Is Funky”—a delightfully vibey slice of mid-’70s funk, filled with anthemic lyrics and hypnotic, hooky grooves. Equally catchy is Side B’s opener, “Little People,” in which Lloyd pays tribute to the everyday man and woman, while the group adds a dash of psychedelic fusion into the mix with “Dreamers.”

 

The group expands into orchestral pop with the anti-war song, “Peace of Mind,” and delivers soulful balladry with “I’d Rather Loan You Out.” The nearly six-minute-long track allows the band to stretch out with several impressive instrumental jams and an impassioned, spoken-word section. The album closes with the dramatic “Prayer of the Prisoner,” in which Lloyd delivers a haunting plea to God over a somber piano line, followed by the 18-second-long “Omega,” an ethereal-yet-eerie instrumental closer.

 

It’s certainly been a journey for this long-lost funk rarity, but finally, 50 years after it first hit store shelves, Alpha will find the spotlight and audience that it so deserves.

 

 

Tracklist (Vinyl)

Side A

  1. Alpha
  2. Average Man
  3. I'd Rather Loan You Out
  4. Life Is Funky
  5. Peace Of Mind

 

Side B

  1. Little People
  2. People Do Change
  3. Dreamers
  4. Prayer Of The Prisoner
  5. Omega

 

Tracklist (Digital)

  1. Alpha
  2. Average Man
  3. I'd Rather Loan You Out
  4. Life Is Funky
  5. Peace Of Mind
  6. Little People
  7. People Do Change
  8. Dreamers
  9. Prayer Of The Prisoner
  10. Omega

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