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Larry Graham/Graham Central Station: Raise Up (w/Prince and Rafael Saadiq) - COMFORT FOOD FOR FUNKATEERS
Back in the early 1990's there was an album released called "Fast Food Funkateers" by a band called "Slapbak." I knew that it was a hot album before I took off the shrink wrap and sure enough it was. I knew it just from the name of the album and the name of the band. I knew it was made by some folks who knew exactly what was in my head as a Funkateer, and I was correct!
I fully realize that this new album by Larry Graham/Graham Central Station (w/Prince and Rafael Saadiq) is called "Raise Up." However upon listening to it I feel like a much better representation of what this is would be something much closer to "COMFORT FOOD FOR FUNKATEERS."
Now if you are a stone cold funkateer (like me) then I really don't have to give you any more commentary than what I just did.
But on the oft chance that you aren't, I will keep typing for just a little bit longer…
Back in the 1970's Larry Graham/Graham Central Station exploded on the scene as if literally shot out of cannon at just the right moment. Of course everybody already knew Larry as the man who quite literally invented "SLAP BASS PLAYIN" (Slapbak….LOL) as a member of Sly & the Family Stone. Therefore we already knew that Larry Graham was one of the architects of FUNK MUSIC. And now he was back on the scene with something ultra funky, ultra groovy, and ultra spiritual called Graham Central Station.
When you listened to a Graham Central Station album (and they were meant to be listened to as albums too!) for sure it was like Sly & the Family Stone 2.0. But itn was more than just that. It was spiritual in a way that truly felt like FUNK CHRCH. As someone who was a college student at the time, I can tell you that that Graham Central Station certainly moved my spirit.
Then all of the sudden, we stopped hearing from Graham Central Station. Didn't really know what to think at all. A few years later in the late 1970's Larry Graham re-appeared, with a series of sweet/syrupy ballads, universally hated by ALL Funkateers, that somehow managed to become major crossover hits. In fact, I can remember watching Larry Graham appearing on American Bandstand with Dick Clark and remember changing the station after about 30 seconds.
Just how much as a Funkateer was I expected to take?
Then Larry Graham himself disappeared.
Fast forward to 2012.
GRAHAM CENTRAL STATION IS BACK.
THEY CAME BACK WITH SOME "COMFORT FOOD FOR FUNKATEERS."
AND THEY BROUGHT PRINCE AND RAFAEL SAADIQ WITH THEM.
And now I'll clue you in on a little secret…
This album sounds like & feels like a "missing Graham Central Station album"
(but don't tell anyone I said that)
Check out the press release below and be sure to check out the links so that you can get a taste of Larry Graham/Graham Central Station: Raise Up (w/Prince and Rafael Saadiq)
(and let me know what cha think?)
PRESS RELEASE: GRAHAM CENTRAL STATION RELEASES FIRST ALBUM IN MORE THAN A DECADE - Raise Up Includes Guest Appearances By Prince and Rafael Saadiq
'Raise Up' Set for Release on September 25, 2012
Bassist Larry Graham - the architect of the slap-and-pluck bass technique that defined the funk sound of the '60s and '70s and continues to inspire bassists across virtually every genre to this day - may specialize in the low end of the sonic spectrum, but he's just as ready to take his music to unprecedented heights. He's been doing it for more than four decades - first as the rock-solid foundation for a string of enduring and iconic hits by Sly and the Family Stone, and later as the head of his own powerhouse unit, Graham Central Station.
After a 13-year hiatus, Graham Central Station makes its triumphant return with Raise Up, set for release on Listen 2 Entertainment distributed and marketed by Razor & Tie on September 25, 2012. Raise Up includes new versions of three classic GCS tracks, along with ten new songs for a new generation of fans. The album features guest appearances by Prince - a longtime collaborator with Graham and GCS since the late 1990s - as well as songwriter/guitarist/producer Rafael Saadiq.
Raise Up does just what the title demands, with a series of high-energy bursts that force listeners out of their chairs and into action. The combination of thumping backbeat, no-hold-barred orchestrations and upbeat, optimistic messages is designed to not just make people move, but make them move in a positive direction. Raise Up is a statement of defiance against the many obstacles and challenges that so often slow us down or keep us from realizing our fullest potential.
"We'd been touring for the last couple years before I made my final selection of songs and put this record together," says Graham, who recorded the songs with the band at Studio de l'Hacienda in Tarare, France, in the summer of 2011. "So I got a chance to see what works with live audiences. I got a chance to see what they like and what they want and what they react to. So this CD is a reflection of that - what the people want when we play our live show."
Along with Prince and Saadiq, Graham has assembled a high-caliber lineup of musicians for the 21st century edition of Graham Central Station: guitarist William Rabb, keyboardists David Council and Jimmy McKinney, drummer Brian Braziel and vocalist Ashling Cole.
The party starts with "GCS Drumline," an all-percussion piece, with cymbals and whistle blasts counterbalancing four snare drums playing in tandem. The track is equal parts opening salvo, pep rally and call to action. The message is clear: high-energy dead ahead. The in-your-face followup, "Throw-N-Down the Funk," sets up a fiery counterpoint between meaty brass arrangements - courtesy of the Millfield Horns, hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark - and tasty bass riffs.
The steady grooving "It's Alright" is the first of three "new master" versions of previously recorded GCS compositions by Graham. The others are the mischievous sounding "It Ain't No Fun To Me" and the churning "Now Do You Wanta Dance."
Electronically enhanced and edgy, the title track features Prince on drums, keyboards and backing vocals. The song challenges everyone within the sounds is a call to stand up against the often oppressive circumstances that define the post-9/11 world. Prince reappears on two subsequent tracks, serving up melancholy lead guitar licks (along with keyboards, drums and backing vocals) on "Shoulda Coulda Woulda," a tale of regret over a love that has died because the lover failed to say the right words and do the right things at the right time; and later with more guitar on "Movin,'" a thundering challenge to get listeners on their feet before the curtain falls and the band hits the road.
Ashling Cole delivers lead vocals on an high-octane cover of the Stevie Wonder hit, "Higher Ground," and is Graham's nod to an old friend and frequent collaborator over the past four decades. "He's a great writer, a great musician and a great friend," says Graham. "I just like his songs, and I like to play them my way."
"One Day," the inspirational closer, features Graham, his wife Tina and Rafael Saadiq on vocals, all delivering a rousing ballad-turned-anthem that envisions a promising future - one that could be closer than we think.
"The music on this album is like a live performance," says Graham. "I wanted to tell a complete story, with a great beginning, a powerful body and a dynamic conclusion. I want that story to be uplifting and encouraging, something to help people rise above whatever challenges they're facing in life - whether it be personal issues or family issues or work issues. Everybody's dealing with something. I want this music to help raise people up and enable them to overcome adversity."
Track Listing for "Raise Up"
1. GCS Drumline 1:24
2. Throw - N - Down The Funk 6:45
3. It's Alright 3:34
4. Raise Up (feat. Prince)
5. Shoulda Coulda Woulda (feat. Prince)
6. Welcome 2 Our World 1:01
7. It Ain't No Fun To Me 6:09
8. Higher Ground 4:55
9. No Way 7:05
10. Hold You Close 5:07
11. Movin' (feat. Prince) 4:57
12. Now Do U Wanta Dance 5:35
13. One Day (feat. Raphael Saadiq)
Larry Graham/Graham Central Station: Raise Up (w/Prince and Rafael Saadiq)
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