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EDITOR'S NOTE: Since it's a holiday weekend, I figured that some of you out there might want to get a little nostalgic. Therefore I present to you an occasional feature of the Soul-Patrol Newsletter, that we call "Backtrackin." This time out I want to focus on some serious FUNK, that some of you may have slept on (or simply forgotten about.) Let me know what cha think?

I would also like you to take note of two new releases, featured in this issue:

--INTRODUCING A GREAT NEW ALBUM, (in the spirit of the March on Washington):
Check Cashing Day - Bobby Watson & The I Have a Dream Project - MP3 Download


-Bob Davis

Backtrackin - "Kalimba Story" (Earth, Wind & Fire)

PRESS RELEASE: LEGENDARY KEYBOARD PIONEER GEORGE DUKE DIES AT 67 With all of the talk going around about Earth, Wind & Fire, folks anticipating their new album & upcoming tour, I started thinking about my favorite EWF songs.

There are probably a dozen, no I take that back, at least 20 - 30 EWF songs that really turn me on, all for different reasons.
some were hit singles (ex: "Reasons")
some were album tracks (ex: "Build Your Nest")
some were MONSTER FUNK JAMS (ex: "Power," "Evil," "Sun Goddess")
some were MONSTER SLOW JAMS (ex "Think About Loving You")

So I said to myself (what the hell) and started pulling out a whole bunch of old EWF material and playing it. In fact I literally OD'ed off of some Earth, Wind & Fire the other day.

And then it came on....
I probably haven't listened to "KALIMBA STORY" in years.
Soon I found myself hitting the replay button
Again, And Again, And Again

I probably listened to the song 20 times in a row.

WikiPedia says the following about the Kalimba...

"The thumb piano or kalimba is an African musical instrument, a type of plucked idiophone (lamellophone) common throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Also known as a " sansa" and "mbira", it is popular throughout central, western and eastern Africa. It was formerly known as the Negro piano. The kalimba is played by holding the instrument in the hands and plucking the tines with the thumbs...."

It's almost too damn funky!! Totally infectious.
Then I thought about the first time I ever heard it.
It was in one of those "smoke filled" dormitory rooms at the University of Pittsburgh. According to the book "Top Hip Hop and R&B Singles," the song "Kalimba Story was released as a single on 7/6/1974, it went to #6 on the R&B charts and went to #29 on the pop charts.

Hell till a few moments ago when I looked it up, I never even knew that "Kalimba Story" had ever been released as a single.....LOL

You see at the University of Pittsburgh, when we came across a great album (like EWF - "Open Our Eyes") we just played the whole thing all the way thru. "Open Our Eyes" was one such album. And for us, the song "Kalimba Story" was the heart and soul of the album. "Mighty, Mighty" was the big hit, containing the iconic Black Nationalist Chant "We the people, the mighty people of the sun" and of course "Devotion" was the monster slow jam of the album.

But for me and my boys, "Kalimba Story" provided us with the full clues as to what Maurice White was really up to. He was going to give us an education about ourselves that was far deeper than what "Mighty, Mighty" only hinted at.

And that is what "Kalimba Story" is all about at it's root.

"Thought it might, make me play
Future music all for you-
Seen me thru my hardest times-
thought it was 'bout time, to open
a new world just for you-
Fills all my needs, gave me the key"

It's almost as if he is saying...

"Ok yall dig tha FUNK, yall think it's new & hip, let me show yall where ta FUNK really comes from and I'm a show yall that FUNK itself is old as dirt and not only did your ancient ancestors invent it, but the reasons why it brings you comfort today, thousands of years later are in fact the same reasons why it brought comfort to your ancestors..."

"Kalimba, ooh kalimba, play me a tune
Kalimba, ooh kalimba, I'm glad I found you
Kalimba, ooh kalimba, play me a tune
Kalimba, ooh kalimba sends a message to you"

He is telling you that if you are confused, you need not be. You just might find an answer within yourself and if not, look to those around you, your community, your elders, etc.

"Door was open, for me to see
Playin around the world, touchin'
All the boys and girls with a new
love to make them free.."

In other words...


(and it's really not much of a jump to go from "Kalimba Story" to Sun Ra, if you really think about it...)

As I sit here in 2013, and from an intellectual perspective, I can ask myself the question: Did Maurice White really have all of this in mind, when he created "Kalimba Story?" Was he really trying to do "long distance mind control" on pot smokin Black teenagers to convert them into a Black Nationalist/Afrocentric way of thinking?

(probably not, but in 1974 it sure felt that way to this teenager as well as his friends.....LOL)

Later on in the same Wikipedia article about the Kalimba it says...

"Maurice White, the Founder and Leader of the popular group Earth, Wind & Fire, gave immense exposure to the Kalimba in the band's music. Earth, Wind & Fire recordings such as "Kalimba Story", "Evil", "Biyo" and "Departure", all revolved around White's electrified Kalimba solos. The Kalimba also proved to be an iconic symbol of the band's reflection of African-ism."


It made you dance like a fool & think about seriously deep stuff all at the same time.

Therefore it belongs in the official:

--Bob Davis


Backtrackin - Kay-Jee (Nightlighters/MFSB)

Backtrackin - Kay-Jee (Nightlighters/MFSB) I first heard the song Kay-Jee - Nightlighters back in 1971 on WLIB-AM
(1190) and absolutely fell in love with the song.
It reached #17 on the R&B charts, stayed there for 13 weeks and then disappeared.

The song was co-written by our friend Harvey Fuqua. It's one of the SLAMMINIST instrumentals I have ever heard.

Of course I always wondered whatever happened to the Nightlighters and it was many years before I learned that they were in fact the musicians who played behind the group New Birth.

Then in 1974 when I purchased the album "Love is the Message" by MFSB, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Kay-Jee was on the album as a cut buried deep inside of the album. Nevertheless all of us who remembered the song from 1971 went nuts over its reappearance in 1974 and it got tons of play at clubs and house parties, although it was never released as a single.

That didn't matter.
Some of the people also going to those clubs, hearing the song and going nuts over MFSB's version were the producers of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack album and decided to put it on the soundtrack. Saturday Night Fever soundtrack album reached #1 on BOTH the Pop and R&B charts, along with winning a Grammy Award thus turning Kay-Jee into a worldwide phenomena.

Yet today, "Kay-Jee" isn't mentioned much.

When it came out the second time as a part of "Love Is the Message," my friends and I just would have some pretty fierce arguments about which version was better, the MFSB version or the Nightlighters version.

I love both versions.
It's kind of like choosing between Gayle Sayers or Jim Brown. Both great. But not really the same. Both versions are on YouTube, take a listen.

But I will always pick the Nightlighters version.
To my ears the Nightlighters version sounds like a 1969 "deuce & a quarter" converatble (Buick Electra 225 for the uninitiated....LOL) screeching around the corner of Fulton & Franklin in Brooklyn, with the wind blowin your fro' backwards at 1am on a Friday night.

You can't get much funkier than that!


It is the MFSB version that remains closest to my heart. Because that is the song that the future "Mrs. Earthjuice" refused to dance with me on because as she put it; "I don't dance with people who wear sunglasses at night..."

Trust me.
If you are looking for some full tilt funk and you don't need lyrics. Either version of Kay-Jee works.

And that's why Kay-Jee (BOTH VERSIONS) are in the Bob Davis Funk Music Hall of Fame

--Bob Davis


Backtrackin - Sleep Around - Prince (Do It Like She Likes It)

Backtrackin - Sleep Around - Prince (Do It Like She Likes It) NOTE: The "Starland Ballroom" is no longer in existance!

It's often said that the music of Mr. Prince Rogers Nelson is actually "soft core pornography".

I dunno if that is really true or not.
However I do want to talk about one of the FUNKIEST songs that I have ever heard. The name of the song is "Sleep Around". And it's from the GREAT album called: E*M*A*N*C*I*P*A*T*I*O*N

It's track #7 on disc #3 of E*M*A*N*C*I*P*A*T*I*O*N (1998)

"Sleep Around" is so damn funky that it's literally off the meter.

It combines:

- Philly Super Rockin MFSB/Disco Action
- P-Funk/EWF/Stax Horns
- Prince's soft core pornographic lyrical dreams

As with everything that Prince does, there is nothing original here. It's all been done before. But he gives one hell of a history lesson in just what Black music is for the uninitiated, and how to mash it all together in a way that makes it sound fresh.

The "do it like she likes" vocal hook that is repeated over and over again seems to be a reference back to his early 1990's badd slama jamma duo with Carmen Electra called "The Continental".

At the same time, the song seems to be preaching against the practice of "sleeping around" and that it can be prevented by "doing your baby just like she likes it all of the time".

I'm sure that the lyrics are important to him, but as a listener they really don't matter much to me.

This song is an all out FUNK ATTACK and the groove never quits.

It's "pure d funk".

In fact it's such a monster, that it defies standard musical clssification timeframes. It came out in 1998. But when you listen to it it's difficult to figure out if this is music from 1974 or 2074. It's great Black Music from the Ancient to the Future. That is to say that if it were on TV, this song would be equally at home on the Flintstones or the Jetsons.

I've never heard it in a club, but that's exactly where it belongs.

In fact I've only heard it one time in a public setting.

There is a place not far from where I live called the "Starland Ballroom". It's in Pennsauken, NJ. It's an old fashioned "ballroom", that is about the size of a bowling alley. You walk inside and it's a huge space covered with a freshly waxed hardwood floor. Walking inside, it's easy to imagine that way back when, in a different time and place, that the "Starland Ballroom" was a place where the BIG BANDS of the 1930's & 1940's performed live to the delight of 1,000 or more dancers.

Today it's just a huge old building with a huge dance floor that occasionally hosts events for hard core serious dancers. People doing that Rhumba, Waltz, Lindy hop and other dances that appear far too difficult for me to ever consider getting involved with. You know, the type of dancing that you see people doing in those televised dance competitions.

I happened to be in there one night.
It was a combination birthday party and dance party featuring mostly Motown era dance tracks. There weren't many people there, perhaps no more than 50, and I don't think that there was anyone there under the age of 60, except me. However these folks were quite serious about their dancing.

This was the HARD CORE "hand dance crowd" of older folks.
I mean these folks were into a serious cha cha/hand dance groove that went far beyond my dancing capabilities. A few times the DJ ventured beyond 1965 and played a 70's EWF or James Brown cut and I was moved to venture out on to the dance floor. I would get out on the dance floor and start doin "da freak" and then my partner would grab my hand and want me to start twirling her around.

This all seemed quite unnatural for me, so I didn't venture out on the dance floor often.

I was actually quite bored watching these older black folk doing these highly intricate hand dances to 1960's Mary Wells and Jackie Wilson songs.

Then out of nowhere I heard...

"Do It Like She Like It...."
Coming from the huge speakers.

I looked up and saw these folks continuing to hand dance.
I rubbed my eyes.
I thought that I was having a hallucination.
But after I got thru rubbing my eyes, I knew it was for real. These folks were actually hand dancing to a song that might actually be close to being, "the ultimate freak joint".

I ran over to the DJ and asked him why he was playing such an obscure cut?

He said: "cuz they dig it..."
And sure enough, the every singe person inside of that joint besides me and the DJ were up on the floor dancing.

At the time, I was amazed.
But after thought about it for a while.
I concluded that "Sleep Around" is simply universal.
Hopefully one of these days more people will get to actually hear the song.

Maybe one of these days Prince will re-release it as a single? Or better yet, maybe one of these days 'll get to hear it performed live? Maybe it doesn't even really matter?

All I know is that I get such pleasure pulling it out, siding on my headphones, putting it on and turning the volume up to "ear bleed".

If any of yall are around when I pass from this earth and you are in attendance at my funeral, please feel free to slip a copy of disc #3 of E*M*A*N*C*I*P*A*T*I*O*N into my casket

Because for me, whenever "Sleep Around" is on, I am in "funk heaven". And I think that when I get there I want to make sure that I have that song with me...

And that is why the song; SLEEP AROUND - PRINCE (or "O(+>" as he was known in 1998) is in the....
"Bob Davis Funk Music Hall of Fame"

--Bob Davis


Backtrackin - Sly & the Family Stone "Dynamite"....(Oh where are you...."MISS CLEAN?")

Backtrackin - Sly & the Family Stone Dynamite....(Oh where are you....MISS CLEAN?) "Dynamite!" by Sly & the Family Stone (1968)

I was listening to song over the weekend. And I hadn't heard it in so long, I had forgotten just how good this song is. Needless to say I found myself bouncin off the walls & hitting the replay button over & over again :)

After a careful study of the lyrics, I found myself wondering why I never seemed to run into the kind of young lady being described in "Dynamite!" by Sly & the Family Stone....LOL

First of all, when you play this song, you gotta turn up the volume to bout "8" before the song even comes on. In fact, just go ahead and put on your headphones. Jack the volume up loud enough for your ears to bleed....LOL (it's worth it....)

That's cuz our friend Freddie Stone, starts the song off with some super-hellified MONSTER FUNK GUIRAR RIFFS that borders on Heavy Metal. Then he goes all "fuzzy & distorted." a la' Hendrix....and it's all mixed in with Larry slappin his azz off, the boardwalk style greasy horns of Cynthia & Jerry, the Elvin Joneseque drumming of Greg Enrico, and the gospel shouting of Rose Stone.

This is one hell of a Phunky groove!!!

Made me remember that when I interviewed Freddie Stone back in 2002, one of the things that he told me was that Jimi Hendrix tried to recruit him & Larry for the Band of Gypsys. (I'll bet that this song was one of the reasons why?)

Then Sly comes in with enthusiastic singing about someone named....

She's so together and nice, yeah
I got to see her twice
I like the way she moves, uh-huh
When I was through
She turned on the light
Made my heart beat dynamite
Dynamite, dynamite, dynamite"

Who is this "MISS CLEAN?"

The musical stars of this song are Freddie Stone and Larry Graham & of course Sly himself on soulful vocals. However the REAL star of this song is none other than...."MISS CLEAN."

Give that girl a hand, yeah
She's got a beautiful tan
Straight to my head, uh-huh

Now we know why this song had zero chance of becoming a hit record, despite the great instrumentation & singing... (cuz these brothas made a song about "getting head" from a white girl in 1968.....& LARRY GOT TO GO TWICE.....LOL)

The "metal/funk" interplay between Freddie Stone and Larry Graham is absolutely amazing. Not even matched by Living Colour 20 years later. For that alone the song really should have been a hit even in 1968. But these musical geniuses don't stop there....

As the song comes to an end.....the "metal/funk" explosion of Freddie Stone and Larry Graham starts fading out and then fading in are the "hand clapping" & "gospel/doowop/accapella sound" of the group very quietly, very soulfuly chanting....

"dance to the music" "dance to the music" "dance to the music" "dance to the music" "dance to the music" "dance to the music" "dance to the music" "dance to the music" "dance to the music" "dance to the music" "dance to the music" "dance to the music" "dance to the music" "dance to the music" "dance to the music" "dance to the music" "dance to the music" "dance to the music"

Sorta forshadowing some of the "gospel/doowop/accapella sounds" that Graham Central Station would do during the 1970's?

I'll bet your boy Prince has listened to this song a couple of thousand times? LOL

This is a GREAT song.

One of my favorites from Sly & the Family Stone.
It's 2:46 of "Black Music Genius."
& it's easilly digestible for even the most dense.
For me it's right up there with "Sing a Simple Song," & "Sex Machine." (It's in the Bob Davis FUNK Hall of Fame")

Take a listen to it again, if you haven't listened to it in a while. This song will make you smile. (on soooo many levels.....LOL)

Go ahead.
Just enjoy it :)

BTW....I wonder if "MISS CLEAN," even knows that she has been immortalized like this? She must have been a "badd mama jama." :)

And that's why " DYNAMITE," is in the Bob Davis OFFICIAL Funk Music Hall of Fame

--Bob Davis


Backtrackin - Same Beat (Part 1) - The JB's

Backtrackin - Same Beat (Part 1) - The JB's - SAME BEAT PT 1

How would you like a definition of FUNK that is 3:21 seconds long? You could do a whole lot worse than that damn MASTERPIECE called "Same Beat", which operates on several different levels.

It's whole premise is something of a joke, since a major complaint of older people back in whateva year the damn record came out was that "All James Brown records sound the same". Of course all us younger people at the time knew that the "same beat" was sho nuff EXACTLY what made James Brown/JB's so damn badd in the first place.

Miles Davis knew it and so did Sly Stone!

That's why on the album "On the Corner" - Miles Davis and the song "Sex Machine" - Sly and the Family Stone, you hear NOTHING BUT THE "SAME BEAT" :) Is it an "African thang"?... I dunno, but BOTH are a virtual tribute to James Brown's "same beat"

But there is more to the damn song than just the "same beat". Brotha JB is workin overtime to give us some badd azz stuff here.

The song starts out with New York City's own, from radio station WWRL Hank Spann, with the spoken word intro…

"The JB's LIVE.and ...BADDDD.."

(I have NO CLUE as to the reason why Hank Spann appears on this record, except that possibly since WWRL's studios are located in Woodside, Queens and James Brown was living in St. Albans, Queens at the time, perhaps there was a relationship?)

And then....
We hear the JB's come in with some kinda badd azz STANK FUNK ORGAN accompanied by the sounds of (Maceo?) sounding like a DAMN ROOSTER????????

It's like James is sayin..."how FUNKY do you want it to get UP IN HERE"? "CUZ NO MATTER HOW FUNKY YOU WANT IT, I CAN ALWAYS GO YA ONE BETTA."

Then our friend Hank Spann from WWRL comes back in and says..

"this is SOLID FUNK.." the JB's continue in that KILLER, KILLER
. S-L-O-W
.... S-L-O-W

"Same beat" over and over again "same beat" over and over again "same beat" over and over again
"Same beat" over and over again "same beat" over and over again "same beat" over and over again
"Same beat" over and over again "same beat" over and over again "same beat" over and over again

Then the damn ROOSTER comes back (cept this time it sounds like a REAL ROOSTER, I hope it tasted

And with it, more of that MONSTER GROOVE..

"Same beat" over and over again "same beat" over and over again "same beat" over and over again
"Same beat" over and over again "same beat" over and over again "same beat" over and over again
"Same beat" over and over again "same beat" over and over again "same beat" over and over again

..And then
...just when you thought it couldn't.
....git NO STANKIER.
.....James brings in a "special guest"

And Jessie says...

"I AM S-O-M-E-B-O-D-Y... I am S-O-M-E-B-O-D-Y.
…. But I AM S-O-M-E-B-O-D-Y
…. But I AM S-O-M-E-B-O-D-Y
…. But I AM S-O-M-E-B-O-D-Y
...I may be in JAIL….
BUT I am S-O-M-E-B-O-D-Y.."

.and then brotha Hank Spann, from WWRL comes in and simply says.



I don't care what James Brown himself has to say about this song, but you can't tell me that James Brown isn't speaking DIRECTLY (and ONLY) to Black people on this record, and more specifically to BLACK TEENAGERS. Who else would have been BADD enough to make what is perhaps the STAKIEST funk jam of all (and include a cameo from Rev. Jessie Jackson????)

I dunno about yall, but when that record came out (it BLEW my MIND)

Once I used the term "afro-polyrhythmic" to describe the music of James Brown. Somebody sent me an email and said...

"hey brotha, why are you usin a white man's TWO DOLLA word like "afro-polyrhythmic" to describe the music of James Brown, when you know DAMN WELL that James would NEVER use such a word himself..."?

That brotha was correct!
So therefore I won't use the word "afro-polyrhythmic", to describe "Same Beat"...

And that's why SAME BEAT (Part 1) is in the Bob Davis Funk Music Hall of Fame

--Bob Davis


If you have a news item, update, review, commentary, etc that you would like to submit to the Soul-Patrol Newsletter, please send them via email for consideration to:

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We will be back soon with the next edition, with email alerts for local events, Soul-Patrol website updates/chat sessions or breaking news in between, as required.

If you have any comments, questions, etc feel free to drop me an email and let me know what's on your mind.
Bob Davis

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