It’s 1979 and 200 copies of a new LP (with an unfortunately misspelled title) have just been pressed up. Hailing from Saint Paul, Minnesota, brothers Pierre and André Lewis front an outfit that, on their first and what will be last record, has captured the incipient loose funk strut that will soon become known as the Minneapolis Sound.
Fast-forward to 2013, and we are told of how this potent collection of six songs was devoured by frenzied audiences, but, despite its initial impact, has remained out of print and understandably difficult to come by in the decades since. Step up Numero Group, the Chicago-based reissue outfit who have recently turned their attention to the late-1970s music scene of the Twin Cities, and licensed a vinyl reissue and first-time CD pressing of The Lewis Conection.
There has been significant interest surrounding this news, beyond the immediate followers of Numero Group’s dedicated work and those rare funk fiends hungry for a new fix. A member of the Lewis Conection was Sonny Thompson who penned the fourth track on the album, ‘Got To Be Something Here’. Thompson would later become known as a member of the New Power Generation, but his affiliation with Prince is said to have begun on these sessions. A persistent rumour credits Prince as the guitarist and backing vocalist on ‘Got To Be Something Here’, a session he recorded while saving up to fund his travel to NYC. If true, this marks the first time Prince would have appeared on a release by another artist, on a track he did not write, and makes this album an essential acquisition for all dedicated fans.
This certainly makes an interesting aside, but with or without this contribution, the record is a collector’s piece in its own right. The initial distribution of The Lewis Conection was confined to the Twin Cities area, but now with a full international release will receive rightful recognition as the record described by Numero Group as “a freaky hallmark in the canon of Midwestern funk.”