The Austin Chronicle

Texas Platters

Reviewed by Thomas Fawcett, September 19, 2008, Music

Steam Heat

Austin Funk (Fable)

In the 1970s when cowboys were cosmic, Austin Funk was an unlikely word pairing. In the heart of outlaw country, funk renegades Steam Heat packed dance floors at the Armadillo World Headquarters and Soap Creek Saloon with Tower of Power-styled grooves. The eightpiece released its lone LP in 1975 before undergoing an Extreme Heat makeover two years later. The reissue of Austin Funk comes at a time when the 1,000 or so original pressings fetch big bucks online. The group's jazz foundation flourishes on the bopping fusion of "Body Talk" and "Frozen Tundra Lady," while slinky bouncer "Funk 'n' Roll" shows off the dynamic interplay between frontmen Bruce Spelman and Phil Ritcherson. Swanky time portals "Groove Awhile" and "Since I Met You" have a shag-carpet-on-the-ceiling vibe, Steam Heat boiling over on smoking funk dynamos "Radiator" and "Ghetto Tool," a pair of tunes that prove Austin Funk is no oxymoron.


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