With so much new music coming out today, it’s great to see record companies and people who really care about the music unearthing top notch recordings of artists that were unknown or long forgotten. Such is the case with 678 Records who have a belter of a project out right now. They are releasing unheard recordings by Dutch keyboard pioneer Rob Franken. Self taught, he would play piano along side such luminaries as Booker Ervin, Art Farmer, Klaus Weiss, and Dave Pike. He pioneered the Hammond organ and was the first in the Netherlands to play the Fender Rhodes electric piano. Until his untimely death at 42, Franken had appeared on hundreds of records and was, at the time, experimenting with synthesizers and the like. Between ’72 and ’83, Franken spearheaded the FuMu Sessions. These were mainly improvisational jam session with the best Dutch musicians primarily to record background music for shopping malls, airports, department stores, and elevators. He arranged the sessions, used his reach to bring in the best musicians to record.
At the time of his abrupt passing, these sessions were stopped. The producer at the time, though, had the foresight to save them, which is lucky for us some almost 30 plus years later. DJ’s P-Dog and Zembie (Sander Huibers and FrankJochemsen) have gone through these sessions to compile the funkiest and dirtiest music out of the lot, Functional Stereo Music. These include tracks by Herbie Hancock, Weldon Irvine, Billy Cobham, Marc Moulin, and Chick Corea, among others. The band who would help make these incredibly funky and on point recordings was comprised of Wolfgang Schluter (vibes), Ferdinand Povel (saxophone/ flute), Rob Langeries and Wim Essed (bass), Louis Debij, Eric Ineke and Henk Zomer (drums), and of course, the man himself, Rob Franken (keys). The promo photo material was done in the ’70’s by the bassist Koos Serierse and guitarist Robbie Pauwels which were rescued from a garbage container. Keeping with that style of the time, designer Piet Schreuders has designed a cover that reflects that period. These two are the first of six records that 678 will release in the Functional Stereo Music series. Pressed up on 140g vinyl and with limited runs, these surely will go fast. Listen to both records below: