Freez and John Rocca - Southern Freeez / Variations on a Theme
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Beggars Arkive reissue the classic Freeez debut album Southern Freeez. The second LP contains seven brand new tracks from the band’s leader John Rocca. Freeez were a legendary group from London, known as one of the UK’s main jazz-funk bands of the early 1980s…aka Brit funk. Led by John Rocca, Freeez consisted of various musicians, originally with Rocca and others including Andy Stennet (keyboards), Peter Maas (bass guitar) and Paul Morgan. Their debut album Southern Freeez was released in 1981 and contains the hit song Southern Freeez which included guest vocals by Ingrid Mansfield Allman. John Rocca initially released the album it on his own Pink Rythm label before being signed to Beggars Banquet.
A few years later, they had even more hits. Their biggest, IOU, was a #1 club single and was written and produced by renowned producer Arthur Baker with lyric contributions and lead vocals by John Rocca and remixed by Jellybean Benitez and Baker. It was a hit in the US in addition to the UK and was used in the legendary breakdancing movie Beat Street. Pop Goes My Love was another hit. Rocca also had a hit as a solo artist in 1984 with I Want It To Be Real. While they may not be a household name, if you know, you know. They have been sampled many times, by artists including Jamie xx, Coolio, Brandy, Madlib and more.
Nearly 40 years after the original release of Southern Freeez, after being contacted by Beggars Arkive about a reissue, John was inspired to go back to his roots. He pulled together some of the work that he had been experimenting with over the years and enlisted some musicians (including his nephews) to play on the tracks, saying that doing so “was a nice reflection of the past meeting the present”.