CD Review: What It Is! Funky Soul And Rare Grooves
STANK FUNK: decomposing corpses, maggots and rotting garbage, stinky athletes corn chips feet
um,um,um. Feelin something at the back of your throat? Wanna gag? GOOD!!!!!! I wanted the stank-o-meter of your souls to be in the right place for what I got for you.
You see a little while ago I heard around these parts about a 4-piece CD entitled Funky Soul and Rare Grooves by the good folks over at Rhino. Here we have the music that quietly shaped my life. As a young musician I had many influences in the late sixties to and through the mid-seventies.
However those were my most formative and influenced years. This compilation represents a little bit of everything in the birthing of that genre of music we call Funk. In the way of a brief sketch I'll say that after the gospel and blues and jazz (swing, bop etc.) came R&B. Y'all know what I'm talkin about too.
That music that would form the bedrock for almost all popular music today. Whether pop, soul, funk, fusion, or rock you had to have Rhythm and Blues first. We know that folk like Ray Charles, Louis Jordan, Richard Penniman, Ruth Brown, Ike Turner, Etta James and Bo Diddley were some of the original purveyors of this music. So we have here the first experimentation with something new and not exactly down center of what came before it. Walk with me then as we highlight the evolution of Funk as presented on Funky Soul and Rare Grooves.
Let me preface this all by saying that there is no James Brown, Otis Redding, Kool and the Gang, Joe Tex or P-Funk on this thing .However each and every musician that ever had anything to do with the above mentioned is represented here (and more). A nice touch I thought since it would've been too easy to just give me those cats. Also on a lot of this music we just skip 'Soul' all together and go directly from R&B straight to the Funk....no questions asked.
Some of the Funk is meandering and almost meaningless...like background music on a porno flick from the seventies and eighties. Oh, y'all don't look at porn???? You're missing some GOOD music (LMBAO!!!!) . I go to the hoe-house to check out the piano playa...LOL!!!! There is also quite a bit of what I call Father's Day music. There are African American traditions that involve good black men (contrary to what a lot of white folk like to tell you). So on Father's day there is always good food. Either of the bacon grease variety in the form of fried whatever or the aroma of a good hock seasoning some greens and the wafting of bar-b-cue aromas into your nostrils enticing you over to the grill. Add in the brown liquor (gotta be brown), cigarettes, cigars, pinochle, spades or dominoes and the spareness of a good Hammond B3 and you get a feel for what I'm talking about.
CD 1: That grease is hot enough!
SoulFinger- The Bar Kays. I don't know about you but whenever I hear this tune I just smile. Dancin is optional but it always makes me smile.
Like Cant Turn You Loose and Cliff Nobles The Horse these became the biggest black (and white for that matter) college marching band anthems of all time.
The Shadow Of Your Smile- Bro. Jack Mcduff-que the above mentioned Father's Day thang. This is EXACTLY what I'm talking about.
Memphis Train- Rufus Thomas- Stax Volt grease slidin all the way from the east to the west coast. Unmistakable Rufus Thomas growl and impeccable S/V production.
Soul Sound System- Freedom Sounds-pre-Crusaders downhome funk from Wayne Henderson and em.
Live Right Now-Eddie Harris-see Father's Day
Getting The Corners-T.S.U. Tornadoes- This is one of those tunes where your mom or pops called you from wherever you were and whatever you were doin (or NOT supposed to be doin) and said' go-on and do that latest dance for us!' When it came on somebody always said awwwwwwwww shhiiiitt! EVERYBODY started bobbin their heads and shakin their ass. One of the first of many sho-nuff highlights for me.
Sexy Coffee Pot- Tony Alvin and the Belairs- sounds like some peppy
Meters-feelin stuff. The horns are a lot more carefully thought out with a nod to a certain Teaberry gum commercial.
Keep On Dancin- The Commodores- way before we gave a damned about Lionel Ritchie The Commodores were a funk band.See Getting the Corners. I'll add here that a lot of this stuff is regional. This might've been beating the hell out of your radio if you lived in Memphis or Newark and might've never known anything about it in Minneapolis. Also a lot of these tunes are all built around the syncopated drumifications of either Clyde Stubblefield or Jabo Starks. Funk is nothing if it aint syncopated. There's always a drum break and it almost always hearkens back to Cold Sweat.
Right On Brother-South Shore Commision-funky broadway-strobe-light-high steppin-funk.
Funky John- Johnny and the Camerons- some of that background-damned-I-didn't-know-they-had-this-kind-of-music-on-these-flicks- type stuff. Meandering with a lot of clavinet and wah-wah (thanks Jimi and Sly) percolating
Help Make Up my Mind- Joyce Jones-clearly an answer to Tyrone Davis tune Try and Make Up Your Mind.This is pure soul. One of the few present on this compilation
*Sing A Simple Song-The Noble Knights-another highlight for me if only because if there is another song that uses all of the ingredients for good Funk I don't know what it is. This is an instrumental (sax-lead) version of Sly's hit but nothing is lost here. If you played an instrument in the sixties and seventies you HAD to know this one...and play it right. It was so perfect with all of the pocket grooving and punchy horns that too much would spoil the groove.The quintessential Funk record.
CD2-Will You turn that down?
Well, that's what my mom used to say when I played a lot of this. Also I was growing up a bit and sort of creating my own connotations and moods by now. So now I was doin some of the ingesting of certain substances that enhanced whatever else was happening at the time.let's not go too far in this but....weed (including Alcapulco Gold, Columbian Red, Cheeba-Cheeba, Angel Dust, Al Green-lol etc) and wine (Cream White Cocord, Virginia Dare, Thunderbird, Swiss Up, Tokay, White Irish Rose, Tiger Rose, Pluck, Ripple,Bali High,Yago Sangria-fo the slicker amongst you-OE, Colt 45 etc.). Nigga puh-leeze was beginning to be replaced with 'my brotha or my sista'...Raht own...power to the people. Our consciousness was raised.
*Gossip-Cyril Neville- clearly without the shadow of doubt nothin but a Meters outtake with brother Cyril doin lead vocals. All of the Neville Bros/Meters ingredients are here and accounted for. Pure funk
Somebody In The World For You- the Mighty Hannibal- funky soul filler. This is very good though...nice horn lines and a message (for the first time) and vision of hope for the downtrodden and disenfranchised.
Stanga -Little Sister- another percolator. not one of my faves but ably demonstrates how pervasive the Sly and the Family Stone influence is second only to probably James Brown in the pantheon of soul/Funk music
Sookie,Sookie- Don Covay and the Jefferson Lemon Blues Band- a nice little piece of soul influenced funk in the mold of Midnight Hour and mustang Sally. Plenty of back-beat fo yo ass! 'Betta watch yo sef cause you might slip on dat bannana peel' is a lyric that gives you the overall feel of this one.
Right On- Clarence Wheeler and the Enforcers-first of all they say Right On throughout the tune...which back in the day was good enough for me. they also sing my brothas,my sisters...PEOPLE...RIGHT ON! Nice Eddie Harris-like- fatback sax. Another of the Father's Day thangs except this time YOU brought this to the record player and THEY like it because it shows that YOU are thinking of a little more than just finger-poppin and booty shakin.
Don't Worry If There's a Hell Below We're All Gonna Go-Curtis Mayfield- see above....add three more pounds of funk,reduce the soul flame and this is what you get.
Messie Bessie-Shirley Scott- see Father's Day (old version pop's version that is). This is an interesting little rhythm section workout because the drumming is getting more intricate all while holding the groove (pocket). There's really no bass to speak of (except the bass pedals on the B3). What is poignant is the fact that throughout this entire compilation the producers chose to pursue the 'Father's Day (my term) aspect of this music as a continuum throughout. I can't argue because there is and will always be a place in my heart (and record collection) for this type of Funk. As long as there are Black men there will be this type music.
Cold Bear-The Gaturs pop influenced (hence a little more light-in-the ass) funk. Funk nevertheless.
I Can't Get Next To You-Mongo Santamaria- forget it. don't ask. Just watch where you walk cause you might slip and fall in all of this grease. what's more essential to anything black than the drum? THE CONGA DRUM. The beginning of it all. the Santero and Congero of Congeros.It all hearkens back to the days of simple hand drumming.
Seeds Of Life-Eddie Palmieri and Harlem River Drive- continuing on where Papa Santamaria left off. More and more consciousness of our African heritage is creeping into the music. Maintaining it's groove, pocket and funk we are now adding more lyrics of relevance. (i.e how more funky and relevant can Cosmic Slop be? Well you have a clue here)
Engine Number Nine- Wilson Pickett- This is when Wilson came to Philly International and got with the OTHER Chambers brothers and cut this pure derivative funk record. Not as pure as P-Funk or Stax-Volt or JB but all because of Wilson Pickett's primal screams and the rumbling bassline this one demands a place here.
CD# 3 Play it right there!
By now this music made you do something with yourself. You either were duly inspired in a socially conscious way to make a difference or you were trying to play this stuff. There wasn't a lot of in-between Experimentation of all kinds hit one right where they lived home. Drugs, sex, protest all got tied together with the heady music of the times. By now Miles started getting involved as well as P-Funk. Sly, Jimi and James already had laid the foundation of pocket layered in polyrhythmic syncopation. And everybody wanted a piece.
What So Never The Dance-it sez Howerd Tate...but I don't think so...if I can recall this was the first Houseguests tune. The Houseguests being the seminal Bootsy's Rubber Band prior to JB or George Clinton.It sounds like it too. Raw hon driven funk like we played when I was between 13 and 19 years old (ah! the seventies!) It even has the riff around which Psychotic Bumpschool was composed (inside of the bridge)
Headless Heroes- Eugene McDaniel- excellent conscious-raising from the Compared To What man hisself. A deep groove with an even deeper message. And it is so true. As black and white everything truly is....in the end it's all (as Eugene McDaniel puts it) cannon fodder...as seen by the player who controls the board. White, black and everything in-between means absolutely nothing...all cannon fodder... as usual it's all about money aint a damn thing funny! Deep stuff.
Bad Tune- EW&F Back in the day I always thought EW&F (first two to three albums) were everything Kool and the Gang were supposed to either be or turn into. That never happened and all worked pretty good for both anyway. This tune is a K&TG tune on steroids. This is what happens when you turn a Sag with far reaching vision (like as Maurice White) loose on funk like K&TG. Add all of Mo's Cadet Concept experience and that ever-present Kalimba and you got a funk masterpiece!
Mr. Cool-Rasputin's Stash- surprisingly one of very few total-sell-out-to-the-other-side-world-of-dope-and-breezy-shit-talkin-weed-smokin-pimp-wantin-to-be thangs on here. Probably for the purpose of demonstrating it existed. I think this band had another hit can you name it?
Hang On In There- Stovall Sisters- sounds a lot like the Nitelighters/Newbirth. This is one of those bad-ass sister-girl bands in the mold of Ike and Tina Turner. Straight seventies funk. Almost too much for it's own good but like the Houseguests this had to be. Plenty of those East Bay grease JB/TOP/Cold Blood horn lines
Funky Nassau Pt.2- The Beginning Of My End- What Funk must've sounded like in Jamaica around 1972. This is the instrumental flip. I guess they wanted to demonstrate how these cats saw it musically unfettered by any vocals.
Rock Steady-Aretha Franklin-(alternate mix) again this is purely here to let y'all hear the band. The vocals are mixed as an afterthought. The emphasis is on Bernard Purdie and King Curtis. In fact they just about left out Bro. Curtis. This is all rhythm section. Another one of those 'get-up-offa-yo-ass-and dance thangs'. Especially the ROCK STEADY drum solo
Suavacito- Malo- In the same sprit as Harlem River Drive and Mongo Santamaria. This is a ballad. not necessarily funk at all but a good tune nevertheless.
MoJo Hanna- Tami Lynn/ Terri Lynn- more unfettered Nawlins style funk.
Nuki Suki- Little Richard- with opening lines like gimme somegimmesomegimme some we know what Richard's talkin about. however if you stay with this you will hear a spirited lil King Curtis-style funk work out...something that surprisingly Little Richard jams well on.
CD#4- Let Me Get Up and Do My Own thang!
By now we are all growed up as they say. We were all at least twenty when this stuff came out. Remember there are almost a hundred tunes on here. I just picked out what are the highlights for me. This last CD represents around 1974-1977. This is running concurrently with the best P-Funk, KT&G and EW&F had to offer at the time. During these years I was beginning my mission to do whatever was good for me to survive. I was out of 'the crib'. My mom actually moved and left me with my brother to embark on adult male bachelorhood. this then is the final chapter of Rhno's funk evolution.
Getting Uptown (To Get Down)- United 8- Kool and the Gang w/out that Maurice White vision. Good serviceable funk. nothing particularly special but very good funk.
Moon Shadow-LaBelle- another of those awwwww shhhiiiit things. You know by the Allen Toussaint piano intro something's gonna happen. a dumb-assed tune to be sure lyrically but that's just it. The dumber the lyric the deeper the groove must be to maintain the standard of Funk delivered previously. Patti,Nona and Sarah are absolutely nothing short of tear-jerkingly-full throated throughout this tune. Nothing is held back for later. Patti has always been a musician's singer and nothing on this one disproves that. Plenty of solos. Unfortunately the producers didn't see fit to give us the long version. It might've short circuited the whole set otherwise.
Kissing My Love-Cold Blood- When this comes on and the younguns are around you proclaim: HEY that's what I'm talkin about...thass MAH mewsic!!!! LOL! Lydia Pense and em listened to Bill Withers ALREADY scintillating version of this song and unbelievably made it better. No stones unturned. nothing is spared in delivering the funk right to your doorstep. Just as you axed fo' suh!
Flute Thing- Seatrain- 'more Father's Day stuff...just a little more seasoned now by YOU. No messages to be had just pure music that you turn to your parents and say. check this out and they look at you like 'what's he got here?' Then they hear it and they dig it. Pre-disco-porno-movie-jazz-rock-fusion-funk.
Chug-Chug-Chug-A-Lug (Push n' Shove)- The Meters- the usual suspects doin the usual things. Sounds like something that could've been on the Rejuvenation album. In the mold of Africa.
*Try It Again- Bobby Byrd- shit...I just made a mess on myself. this is by far for me the highlight of highlights on this whole thing. Messy. Raw. Rotting flesh. Eeeeeeewwwwww.this shit stinks??? What were y'all doin around here? DAMNED!!!!!!!!!! JB is nowhere...not even a grunt or a groan...but his smell is over,under and all over this one. Breathless...not enough music for all the words Bobby Byrd is putting in there but it works perfectly. AND it's conscious raising to boot. Admonishments to 'keep own tryin it agin'! Watch that grease,man....I told y'all to clean that up!!!!!
Improve -Darrow Fletcher
Strong,power-funk workout. never heard of Darrow Fletcher but maybe somebody around here has. This is very good. Clavinet, Sly/Stevie funk
Ridin High-Faze-O Funk light. A precursor to smoov jazz of the cornier kind. Borne of all of that Dazzlakeside, confunkshun, laterdaybarkays funk. It's not a bad tune but it's just not a lot here. And it is where the funk made one of it's last stop before embracing oblivion.
Four Play-Fred Wesley and the horny Horns- nuff said...
California Dreamin- Eddie Hazel- the only purely Funkadelic choice on this compilation. It is a great one too. Let's you know how Jimi played in the development of funk music. The spare use of any Hendrix influenced stuff on this compilation s probably it's only fault.
Finally, I must thank brother Charles for re-charging me with this lyric:
"Hear ye, hear ye the court of swing
Is just about ready to do that thing
I don't want no tears, I don't want no lies
'Bove all, I don't want no alibis
This judge is hip, and that ain't all
He'll give ya time if you're big or small
Fall in line, for this court is neat
Here come the judge
Here come the judge
Everybody knows that he is the judge!"
My man PigMEAT!!!
Gt-damn! How could that NOT be on this compilation? that's some funk fo yo ass and thanks brother for givin me those lyrics. I needed that.
Hire A Band
WHAT IT IS! FUNKY SOUL AND RARE GROOVES (1967-1977)
1. The Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band - "Spreadin' Honey"
2. Bar-Kays - "Soul-Finger"
3. Brother Jack McDuff - "The Shadow Of Your Smile"
4. Jimmy Norman - "Gangster Of Love (Parts I & II)"
5. Rufus Thomas - "The Memphis Train"
6. Grassella Oliphant - "Get Out Of My Life Woman"
7. Eddie Harris - "Live Right Now"
8. Natural Bridge Bunch - "Pig Snoots, Part I"
9. The Freedom Sounds featuring Wayne Henderson - "Soul Sound System"
10. Clarence Carter - "Snatching It Back"
11. Artie Christopher - "Stoned Soul"
12. The T.S.U. Tornadoes - "Getting The Corners"
13. Tony Alvon & The Belairs - "Sexy Coffee Pot"
14. Mark Putney - "Don't Come Around Here Anymore"
15. The Commodores - "Keep On Dancing"
16. The Southshore Commission - "Right On Brother-Part 1"
17. Eldridge Holmes - "Pop, Popcorn Children"
18. Cold Grits - "It's Your Thing"
19. Soul Angels - "It's All In Your Mind"
20. Johnny Cameron & The Camerons - "Funky John"
21. Joyce Jones - "Help Me Make Up My Mind"
22. Lou Johnson - "Rock Me Baby"
23. The Noble Knights - "Sing A Simple Song"
24. Titus Turner - "Do You Dig It"
25. Phil Moore Jr. - "Funky Canyon"
26. The Fabulous Counts - "Jan Jan"
27. The Rhine Oaks - "Tampin'"
1. Cyril Neville - "Gossip"
2. The Mighty Hannibal - "Somebody In The World For You"
3. Little Sister - "Stanga"
4. Anada Shankar - "Jumpin' Jack Flash"
5. Brute Force - "The Deacon"
6. Don Covay & The Jefferson Lemon Blues Band - "Sookie Sookie"
7. Clarence Wheeler & The Enforcers - "Right On"
8. Curtis Mayfield - "(Don't Worry) If There's A Hell Below We're All Going To Go"
9. Johnny Harris - "Stepping Stones"
10. 6ix - "I'm Just Like You"
11. The Unemployed - "Funky Thing-Part 1"
12. Shirley Scott - "Messie Bessie"
13. Willie West - "Fairchild"
14. The Gaturs - "Cold Bear"
15. Mongo Santamaria - "I Can't Get Next To You"
16. Lulu - "Feelin' Alright"
17. Memphis Horns - "Soul Bowl"
18. Hammer - "Tuane"
19. Johnny Tolbert & De Thangs - "Take It Off-Part II"
20. Harlem River Drive featuring Eddie Palmieri & Jimmy Norman - "Seeds Of Life"
21. Wilson Pickett - "Engine Number 9" (Single Version)
1. Baby Huey & The Baby Sitters - "Hard Times"
2. Houseguests - "What So Never The Dance-Pt. 1 & 2"
3. Eugene McDaniels - "Headless Heroes"
4. Wade Marcus - "Spinning Wheel"
5. Earth, Wind & Fire - "Bad Tune"
6. Rasputin's Stash - "Mr. Cool"
7. Junior Mance - "Don't Cha Hear Me Calling To Ya"
8. The Stovall Sisters - "Hang On In There"
9. The Beginning Of The End - "Funky Nassau (Part II)"
10. Mark Holder & The Positives - "Whatever's Fair"
11. Ed Robinson - "Face It"
12. Young-Holt Unlimited - "Wah Wah Man"
13. Aretha Franklin - "Rock Steady" (Alternate Mix) (Previously Unissued)
14. Black Haze Express - "Won't Nobody Listen"
15. Allen Toussaint - "Goin' Down"
16. Malo - "Suavecito"
17. Charles Wright - "You Gotta Know Whatcha Doin'"
18. Tami Lynn - "Mo Jo Hanna"
19. King Curtis - "Ridin' Thumb"
20. Macondo - "Almendra"
21. Little Richard - "Nuki Suki"
1. United 8 - "Getting Uptown (To Get Down)"
2. Howard Tate - "8 Days On The Road"
3. Labelle - "Moon Shadow" (Edit)
4. Society's Bag - "Let It Crawl"
5. Black Heat - "Wanaoh"
6. Clarence Reid - "If It Was Good Enough For Daddy"
7. Claudia Lennear - "Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky"
8. The Mystic Moods - "Cosmic Sea"
9. Cold Blood - "Kissing My Love"
10. Seatrain - "Flute Thing" (45 Edit)
11. The Meters - "Chug Chug Chug-A-Lug (Push And Shove) Part II"
12. Freddi/Henchi & The Soul Setters - "Funky To The Bone"
13. Bobby Byrd - "Try It Again"
14. Cornell Dupree - "Teasin'"
15. Dr. John - "(Everybody Wanna Get Rich) Rite Away"
16. Oscar Brown, Jr. - "Chicken Heads"
17. Funk Factory - "Rien Ne Va Plus"
18. Herbie Mann - "Cajun Moon" (Single Version)
19. Darrow Fletcher - "Improve"
20. Faze-O - "Riding High"
21. Fred Wesley & The Horny Horns - "Four Play" (Promo Edit)
22. Eddie Hazel - "California Dreamin'" (Edit)
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