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“Funkytown” Rescued and Restored at Cups ‘n Strings

Writer/Producer Steven Greenberg Digitizes Disco Classic

Pictured at Cups ‘N Strings (L-R) are owner/engineer Bruce Maddocks and “Funkytown” writer/producer Steven Greenberg. Photo by David Goggin.

“Funkytown,” perhaps the last big hit of the Disco era, has been restored and transferred to digital from fragile 24-track 2-inch tape masters. Engineer Bruce Maddocks handled archiving at his Cups ‘N Strings studios with the song’s writer/producer Steven Greenberg on hand to supervise the project.

“Funkytown” was a #1 record in over 40 countries,” says Greenberg, “and 28 years later, not a day goes by that I don’t get a request to license the tracks for some sort of use somewhere around the world.”

With deceptively simple hooks and instrumentation, “Funkytown” merged the sounds of disco, new-wave pop and R&B to create a major crossover phenomenon. The enduring hit was recorded by the group Lipps, Inc. in Minneapolis at the famed Sound 80 Studios, where artists such as Prince, Cat Stevens, and Bob Dylan had worked. The song featured a Moog Vocoder effect that became the hit’s signature sound.

“Funkytown” can be heard in more than 20 films, including Mel Brooks’ “History of the World,” “Contact,” “Shrek 2,” and in the recent feature “Alvin and the Chipmunks.” The film’s soundtrack CD is currently hovering at the top of the Billboard album charts. “Funkytown” has been used in more than 100 TV shows, in sporting events such as the Opening Ceremonies for the 2006 Winter Olympics, and in a number of video games.

“The tapes were very finicky,” explains Greenberg. “But Bruce works with just about every tape configuration ever made. He’s got all the different analog head stacks, speed controls, and the means to bake the tapes before archiving and preserving to hi-res digital. We’ve been re-naming and organizing the individual elements so that re-mixers and soundtrack producers can easily work with the material for their own projects.”

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