|Adventures of Ali and His Gang Vs. Mr. Tooth Decay (St. John's Fruits and Vegetables)|
I know this isn't meant to be a comedy record but looking backwards, it's pretty damn hilarious. Muhammed Ali does a PSA album on tooth decay, complete with some narration by Howard Cosell and Mr. Cassius Clay himself on the vocal tip (hint: he sung about as well as Kobe raps). But like one of the Fat Albert albums, there's tons of really clever vocal bits on here that's waiting for the next Prince Paul to flip on. Plus, funky musical interludes strewn throughout. Well worth checking out for anyone looking for quirky mixtape fodder and other assorted goodies.
|Ashby, Dorothy: Dorothy's Harp (Cadet 1968)
Afro-Harping (Cadet 1969)
The Rubiyat of Dorothy Ashby (1970)|
While I haven't been straight-up floored by any of this trio of albums, the I listen, the more I realize that Ashby's funkdafied Cadet albums require a more studied listen than just a surface lemme-scan-for-raw-sh*t interaction. That's not to say there aren't some immediately appealing songs -"Soul Vibrations" on "Afro-Harping" for example or the bizarre "Moving Finger" off of "The Rubiyat". But this is harpist for god's sake -she's not going to smack you in the head with power chords necessarily -you need to meld into the music to really get into how good it is. Of the three, personally, I like "Dorothy's Harp" the best -mostly because I think it has the most consistently funky compositions. "Afro-Harping" isn't bad by any means but it has some flat and cheesy musical moments. "Dorothy's Harp" just seemed to rock with every cut, including her cover of "Windmills of Your Mind", "Reza" and "Love is Blue." Who knows what the hell Richard Evans was thinking but god bless him all the same. Friends of mine seem to like "The Rubiyat" more than the rest, I'm guessing because it both has a more exotic twist to the arrangements, but also because Ashby is singing on several of the songs, whereas she's just letting her hands speak on the others. There's definitely an Eastern spirtiual vibe to "The Rubiyat" which some may like, others find just find lame. Still, a very provocative album and all three of these are well worth a listen.
|Bishop Jr., Walter: Cubicle (Muse 1977)|
I went looking for this LP because I thought it had this dope version of "Summertime" which I had heard on the radio but upon reflection, I'm pretty sure that version I was thinking about was on Bishop's Black Jazz album. This Muse LP isn't super soul jazzy funky, but it's better than I expected and the version of "Summertime" that is on here is actually pretty fly. The album's vibe is late-70s jazz funk -a little on the cheesy side -but Bishop's use of electric piano goes down smooth as good liquor. The majority of the tracks are fairly straight ahead but there's some strong, more African-influenced flavor on "Valley Land" and "Those Who Chant."
|Björn J:son Lindh: Sissel (Metronome 1973)|
Those wacky Swedes strike again. Lindh's album is full of slow, downtempo funky flute hits that have this crazy drum sound running underneath -sounds like a cross between a xylophone, gongs and a conga -whatever it is, it's mad groovy. You get the first taste on "Bull Dog", a cool jazzy number that runs for almost half of the Side A but the best example is from "Your Own House" on the B-side. Aceyalone actually used the first couple of bars for "Book of Human Language" and the slow, plodding, almost clock-like beat sounds dopedelic thanks to the mystery instrument. It won't rock a dance floor (too slow) but funky stuff no less. Also worth checking is the more uptempo "Storpolska" which gets a touch exotic and sounds like something Richard Evans might have produced for Lindh back in the late Œ60s. Also, the title track starts off with a short, but pleasant solo on the Rhodes, making this album sound quintissentially Œ70s for whatever reason.
|Brother to Brother: In the Bottle (Turbo 1973)|
A decent enough cover of Gil Scott-Heron's "In the Bottle" but go with their cover of Wood, Brass and Steel's "Hey, What's That You Say" (which, in turn, is just a cover of the Skullsnaps' "It's a New Day"). Primo looped the horns for Jay Z but besides that, it's the only other enjoyable song on an album filled with bad soul cheese.
|Brothers, (The): Isley (Buddah 19??)|
One of the Isley Bros. earlier albums, this sounds like something they could have put out for Stax in the same era. I only liked two cuts though -"I Turned You On" which has a heavy, driving groove to it and good vocals as the Isley's scream "sock it to me". "Get Down Off the Train" is a solid ballad, especially with the trill piano riff that runs in the background.
|Brown, James: The Popcorn (Polydor 196?)|
Another one of those indispensable James Brown albums, this one is mostly instrumental. Solid cuts are: "The Popcorn", "Why Am I Treated So Bad", "In the Middle Pts. 1 & 2", "Soul Pride Pt 1." and "The Chicken" which is also on 45. Funky hot licks all around.
|Butler, Billy: This is Billy Butler (Prestige)
Guitar Soul (Prestige)
I have to give a lot of credit to Egon for pushing me to give Billy Butler a more open listen. I never liked his "Via Galatica" album so I just assumed Butler's oeuvre wasn't all that compelling. But Egon told me to peep out these two albums on Prestige and I'm a convert. Both are similar insofar they have one really dopeadelic cut that kicks off the LP but that's about it. The rest is pleasant stuff -Butler's guitar technique is amazing, especially on his ballds for "This is Billy Butler" but if you want some hype, funked-up sh*t, you're pretty much talking about "The Twang Thang" on "This is Billy Butler" and "Guitar Soul's" "Blow For the Crossing." Personally, it's hard to figure out which is better -both have nice, heavy drumbreaks snapping in the back plus very tight rhythm sections keeping the groove taunt. It's mostly just a matter of taste. I like "Twang Thang" better but "Blow For the Crossing" gets bonus points for its fake train whistle. By the way, "Guitar Soul" is available on repress wax but so far, "This is Billy Butler" is not.
|Christopher, Lyn: S/T (Paramount 1973)|
Most wouldn't even pay attention to this album if it wasn't for that fact that Lyn Christopher is a dime. But as it turns out, this is a highly sought-after LP, not just by breakheads but by KISS fans since members of the group appear on the album (this was before they formed KISS). The album is relatively undistinguished - Christopher sounds like the diva Portishead based their aesthetic off of but she's not striking besides that - but there's "Take Me With You". It's one of those amazing surprises, such a sick bassline and drum interplay, well used by the Smut Peddlers on perhaps their only good song. It's enough to have made this one expensive piece of vinyl though if you really want the rare one, try for the 45.
|Commodores: Uprising (Intermedia 1983)|
This anthology from the early 1980s puts together some of the Commodores earliest sides, back when they were cutting covers to soul, jazz and funk tunes in the late Œ60s. It's a bit of a revelation since most of us tend to think of the Commodores in the context of mid-Œ70s funk monsters like Brick House or schmaltz R&B like "Three Times a Lady" (and let's not get started on Lionel Ritchie). There's actually very little vocal stuff on here -it's almost all instrumental. Among their better covers: "Who's Making Love" and "Sing a Simple Song" though the Commodores clean sound just doesn't quite hold up compared to other, grittier funk bands of the era. The sole exception might be an excellent cover to Alvin Cash's "Keep On Dancing" (now made infamous thanks to Brainfreeze). Cash's original was always a little too dirty and the Commodores hit a decent medium by shining it up a bit but keeping to the original arrangement, including the dope, uptempo drum break.
|Compost: S/T (Columbia 197?)|
An interesting and engaging soul/jazz/Latin record led by John DeJohnette, along with Jack Greggg, Bob Moses, Jumma Santos and Harold Vick. There's some middling Œ70s jazz on here that's not that exiting but there's also some killer Afro-Latin stuff too, namely "Thinkin'" which starts off lovely with Santos' congas and DeJohnette's clavinet. The singing isn't that great but the track has a likable soulful feel overall. Same goes for "Sweet Berry Wine", another cool soul jazz flavored cut that reminds me just a little bit of Gary Bartz stuff with Andy Bey. "Thinkin's" all where it's at though.
|Diddley, Bo: Black Gladiator (Checker)|
If for no other reason, this LP is worth checking because Diddley looks like some S&M psycho on the back photo in a leather and buckle outfit that'd scare straights and gays alike. Yowzers! No open breaks on this one, unlike some of his other LPs, mostly just rip, roaring funky blues like "Black Soul", "Funky Fly" and "I Don't Like You". For its strengths, it's still not as funkalicious as "Another Beginning."
|Dragon, Dennis: Go For It OST (Safari 1978)|
Considering the yearŠand that it's a surfing movieŠthe soundtrack for "Go For It" is decidedly a winner, hitting with a post-rollerskate funk vibe that's easy to get into, especially with all the bongo work that's on the album. Yes, the soundtrack definitely has moments of more syrupy, late-Œ70s, disco era production on it but you'll look past that once the opening song (the title track) hits that 16 bar break at the end. A group called the Protein Bros gets credit for a couple of songs and they seem to be the ones to follow especially when they return to percussive territory on "South African Drums", another conga/bongo affair with a funky undercurrent. Keep in mind, there's also a lot of folksy rock on here too so the few examples of difference really help stand out. That's why the jazzy "Cholo", with its frantic, uptempo pacing makes such a contrast next to the bluegrass guitar of "Turkey". It's not the Protean Bros but Smoghorn who light up "Animal Kingdom" with a decent drum break (not open) and decent, if not a little overproduced, guitar riffs to kick off side B with a funky rocker. The Protean Bros return one cut later to take you into a synth wonderland for "Snow Cone" -cheesy as Velveeta but I could see some sample potential nonetheless.
|Driver, Eddy: A L'orgue Hammond (Les Treteaux 197?)|
There's a lot of bad, cheesy B-3 work on here. There's also some kick-your-ass-into-your-cranium stuff too. The album starts poorly enough, with some absolute pop schlock tunes, including a bad, bad cover of "Never Can Say Goodbye". But it starts to heat up a bit with "Saramina", a slinky, funk number that would have fit well onto any Œ70s detective show. The cop themes continue with "Schout", which sounds like a session Serge Gainsbourgh might have done without all the sexual overtones -Driver's organ work is decidedly less vamp-happy (and that's a good thing) and it has all the makings of a solid soul jazz/pop cut especially with the strong back beat and eager brass section. "Brazilia Carnaval" slides back towards cheesiness but I'm cutting it slack since it whips in some whiny ARP and similar synth silliness. The real gin and juice is on "Black Night", a cut sampled by the Beatnuts (forgot which song), that blasts off with a hard knockin' breakbeat, juggling maracas, and a muted guitar/brass interplay which just screams "loop me!". Hot sh*t, especially when they add delays to some of the horns and strings that come in. A mid-tempo killer of a tune. The album closes on the monster vamps of "Run, You Œll Get It" but then turns into a more cheesy, country rock melody but then shifts into funk territory again after the first bridge. Will the track make up its mind? All in all, worth peeping just for "Black Night" but there's some other joints to take a puff from too.
|Duke of Burlington (Duke): Pressed Piano: A Revolution in Sound (Joker 1971)|
Some might be familiar with the Duke through the reissue of his other LP, "Flash". This one isn't quite as consistently strong as "Flash" but the main difference is that instead of six earth-shattering funk-jazz instrumentals, you only get three - not a bad deal. For some reason, El Duke has a penchant for covering other people's songs and then changing the titles but while there might be some copyright shadiness, no faulting his taste. "Jungle Duke" reworks "Mongoose" by Elephant's Memory - from the Afro-Latin breakdown at the front end, to the soaring vocals that kick in four bars in. The very next song, "Hammer Strokes" is an unmistakable cover of King Floyd's "Groove Me" and kicks just as fierce and funky. My only thought is whether a B3 or Rhodes would have made a better complement than the acoustic he pounds on but I'm not complaining. The rest of the album sounds like a really good library record - groovin' instrumentals that work across different genres. There's a lot of cool, exotica-flavored music on here - "Indian Fig", "Black Panther", "Vibrating Harp" - you get the idea. While there's nothing as slam-happy as "Jungle Duke" or "Hammer Strokes" on the rest of the LP, "Sensorial" stands out for its strong rhythm section and funky vibe.
|Flock, The: S/T (Columbia 197?)|
They're no Michal Urbaniak when it comes to sick ass violin funky fusion but for a folk band with psych tendencies (or is it the other way around), The Flock found favor with at least two hip-hoppers. "Clown's" not half-bad with its simple bassline anchor; "Store Bought-Store Thought" rocks out a little past the funk median but its crashing drums and cowbell might entertain someŠthat is until the bridge where everything slows into some regrettable vocals. For sample hounds, the two to check are: the end of "I Am the Tall Tree", the swinging bassline for De La Soul's Big Brother Beat" (but the rest of the song really isn't much to get into). And on "Tired of Waiting", about a third of the way in they hit a loop the UMCs used on "One to Grow On", but again, the rest of the song isn't as nice.
|Frog, Wynder K.: Into the Fire (UA 197?)|
I've been looking for this album for years, literally. I've had Frog's "Out of the Frying Pan" for a bit but was never really snazzed on it and was always curious if his sequel was better. Confirm that suspicion -while the B-side was rather flat, there's some funkalicious material on the A-side to enjoy, most notably the bangin' "Howl In Wolf's Clothing", a song sampled by the Handsome Boy Modeling School for "In the PJs" by De La Soul and Del. It rocks a funky country blues vibe to it, screaming down the pipeline as it goes on down. Both "Into the Fire" and especially "Cool Hand Stanley" have tight drum breaks (and it's open on "Cool Hand Stanley") and a solid funk influence. Even though it's not rocking out, "F in Blues" is pleasant listening too. Flipside has some weak material, including the terrible "Eddie's Tune". "What Am I Treated So Bad?" isn't wack but isn't great either. The songs on the B, like "Hot Salt Beef" and "Warm and Tender Love" are all pleasant but far from being that notable. Stick with the hat trick of songs on the A.
|Gainsbourg, Serge: Historie de Melody Nelson (Philips 1971)|
Took me long enough to finally track this down (peace to Slurg for the trade!) and now that I have it -Œtwas worth the wait. I've heard about three of Gainsbourg more sought after LPs and this one ranks top choice right now. His sense of rhythm and movement on this album is impressive and he just slides you way into his Francophile funk. Sure, I have no clue what the hell he's saying but the way he breathes on the track just makes it sound even cooler than it already is. "Melody", strumming with a deep bassline and guitar licks (which the Beatnuts jacked on "Superbad") is clearly the jiz-oint but don't sleep on the more uptempo "En Melody" (source of De La's "Until the Fat Lady Sings") or another slow burning masterpiece, "L'Hotel Particulier".
|Gomez, Eddie: Down Stretch (Black Hawk 1976)|
A good mid-70s' jazz album that's fairly conventional but features excellent Rhodes work by Takehiro Honda and the dramatic strains of Gomez' acoustic bass. The funky joint is the title cut which begins with Gomez' talking bass and then, about a minute in, he hits a riff and Elliot Zigmund's heavy drumbreak drops in. Great, great song for the next nine minutes, including a short but sweet open break by Zigmund during his solo towards the end. Definitely a cut worth checking for. (Note -this is the American issue, the original came out on Japan's Trio imprint).
|Gonzales, Celio: Arriba!/Up! (Tico 19??)|
Gonzales looks a vampiric version of Mister Rogers but I'd still walk into his neighborhood. His vocals aren't fantastic and it's arguable that they ruin the songs at times, but his compositional touch makes up the difference for me. "Arriba" has a funky touch, especially in the groovin' piano work and Gonzales' soaring vocals add just the right element to give the song personality. Meanwhile "Guajira Habanera" is another monster cut with its chorus vocal attack and strong rhythm section. "Boogaloo Mania" is likable too -not the best boogaloo track out there but fun listening, especially in the call and response vocal arrangements. Avoid the ballads on this one however.
|Hamlisch, Marvin: The Spy Who Loved Me OST (UA 1977)|
Among the Bond soundtracks, this falls short of "Live and Let Die" but still has its moments. The big hit off of this is Carly Simon's theme song, but peep the Persian funk flavor on "Eastern Lights" or slip into the smoothness of "Ride to Atlantis",
|Har-You Percussion Group: S/T (Cubop orig. release 1969)|
This reissue of an ultra-rare Afro-Latin LP is killer, killer stuff. The A-side material is nice, especially "Qua-Train" which is clearly influenced by ŒTrane in its compositional style, while the purely percussive "Ngoma" is ok too. But the B-side rips, starting with the ultra-funky "Welcome to the Party" and its deep basslines and fiery piano. My favorite is "Tico" which starts with a slick, walking piano riff which anchors the song. Mad soulful and just a pleasure to listen to, plus the percussion hits a peak right at the end to close it all off.
|Jaggerz, (The): We Went to Different Schools Together (Kama Sutra/Buddah 1970)|
A white folk-rock album with the notable funky cut "At My Window" that sounds like something the Meters might have cooked up in a Nawlins' studio session. The song makess no sense in the logic of the rest of the album but you'll be glad they did it anyways.
|Johnson, Rudolph: Spring Rain (Black Jazz 1971)|
I'm slowly but surely putting together a Black Jazz collection of albums (translation: I now have two (with Henry Franklin's contribution soon to follow in the next set of Soul Sides updates). This is a pretty good, post-bop album with likable straight-ahead compositions -love John Barns' acoustic piano work and Reggie Johnson's walking basslines. Two funky cuts: "Diswa" which reminds me of the soaring beauty of John Klemmer's "Free Soul" though "Diswa" is more of a laid-back groove. "Devon Jean" is a blues-influenced joint that has a strong rhythm section backing it -short but sweet. Definitely worth checking out for "Diswa".
|Kool and the Gang: Live at the PJs (De-Lite 196?)|
It's not quite as tasty as "Live at the PJs", but this is still a pretty damn good Kool and the Gang album, especially on songs like "Who's Gonna Take the Weight" and "Funky Man." Kool and the Gang's style of funk playing was raw as hell, especially with their brass section blaring through everything. One of their all-time classics.
|Kynard, Charles: Reelin' With the Feelin' (Prestige 1969)|
I have no clue why I waited so long to pick up this jammin' soul jazz classic. I have most of Kynard's other LPs (save for "Afro-Disiac" anyone got an extra?) and they're all tight as a girdle. This one has a fantastic line-up -Joe Pass on guitar, Paul Humphrey on drums plus Wilton Felder and Carol Kaye. The best tracks start with "Boogalooin'" on the B-side -taunt and funky in the way that reminds me of other Prestige albums, namely Billy Butler's stuff. Flip back to the A with "Reelin' With the Feelin'", a nice mid-tempo groover with good drums and then ease down with "Soul Reggae", a down-tempo gem of a song. This one is readily available on reissue -don't sleep.
|Lafayette Afro Rock Band: Voodounon (Editions Makossa)|
Is it wack of me to say that I expected this EP to be better than it is? Sure, "Hihache" is the shizniz but the rest of the disc is rather snoozy despite all the good percussive elements on it. But "Hihache" is the only one that grooves on some slinky funk tip. The rest are looser soul jazz compositions with a touch of Afro-Latin thrown in. Then again, one kick ass cut out of five isn't a bad ratio.
|Lee, Byron and the Dragonaries: Going Places
Reggay Hot, Cool & Easy
Lee claims that his band is Jamaica and the Caribbean's number one group and it seems like they got there by covering everyone ELSE's tunes. Not that I'm mad at that though because they have some great covers, adding a slight regga-fied touch to a collection of solid soul tunes. The problem, each of his albums usually have, at most, two tracks worth listening to. On "Going Places" it's his cover of "Groovy Situation" (orig. by Gene Chandler?) which is very, very close to the original. A better example would be "Hot Reggay" from "Reggay Hot Cool & Easy" which is basically a cover of James Brown's "Hot Pants." Laid back and smooth, just like their cover of "Shaft" on the same album, a stripped-down version of Issac Hayes' mega-classic. My favorite of this trio though is "Reggay Fever" with two dope covers: one of Manu Dibangu ("Soul Makossa"), the other of the Beatles' soundtrack song, "Live and Let Die".
|Lee, Laura: S/T (Hot Wax 1972)|
I was a little late coming around to this -most have known about it for quite a while thanks to D-Nice's sampling of "Crumbs Off the Table" for his song by the same name. No question -that song is a blazing funky soul tune but don't sleep on the equally juiced-up "If You Can Beat Me Rocking" which has the energy of Jean Knight's "Mr. Big Stuff" or Betty Wright's "Clean Up Woman."
|Love: Out Here (Blue Thumb 196?)|
Ah, one of those infamous "break" albums where the only thing worth having isŠa break. Not that I don't like my white psych rock but really, the thing on here worth having is the long break on "Doggone". Crunchy stuff no doubt but would I pay $40 in cash for it? Hell no.
|Mac, Garry and the Mac Truque: Truqued Up "Alive" In Concert (Capitol 196?)|
How tight is a group named "The Mac Truque"? Especially a bunch of post-Beatles white musicians who like like straight herbs on their album covers in their bowties. Unfortunately, most of their covers (of James Brown and other soul hits of the '60s) aren't that extraordinary and certainly don't improve on the original. BUT - get to the end of "Cold Sweat" and you'll be richly rewarded by a smashing breakbeat that runs on for 16 bars. It's marred at first by applause but after that fades, it's all about the drummer gittin' some and he rips hard and heavy. For breakbeat fans, this is well worth to look for.
|McDaniels, Eugene: Outlaw (Atlantic 1970)|
Let's just cut to the chase -this entire album sucks (well, compared to "Headless Heroes" it does) save for one song -"Cherrystones" -and that one song might just be enough to warrant finding this LP at all costs. I just haven't heard a song like it in a long time -it's as perfect a cut as I could imagine, from the opening breakbeat, to the soft strum of the electronic keyboard, to McDaniels sharing with us, "as long as I have my clams/I don't give a damn/about muddy waters." Sure, it's a song about clams but it's really a song about life. About struggle. About good and evil. Actually, it's a song about clams. But it feels like the rest. Trust me -the song is so damn good, it makes me want to go digging for some cherrystones and I don't even like shellfish very much.
|Mittoo, Jackie: Macka Fat (Studio 1: 197?)|
While not outrageously funky, Mittoo's classic "Macka Fat" still has plenty of choice instrumentals to spark a spliff too and give praise to Jah. "Henry the Great" is moderately funky, making a nice start to the LP, and all it really needs is some drums behind it and it'd be a monster. "Fancy Pants" is actually a cover of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On", which becomes obvious by the time Mittoo hits the first bridge. On the B-side, "Ghetto Organ" isn't as bad ass as it sounds, but it's got flavor. Mittoo's organ work is definitely more on the ballad side -he's not trying to out vamp Jimmy Smith or nothing. For roots and reggae fans, well worth peeping out.
|Montenegro, Hugo: Hugo in Wonder-Land (RCA 1974)
Moog Power (Victor 1969)|
I'm feeling the concept -Montenegro reinterprets a bunch of Stevie Wonder songs, ala ARP style. As usual though, the synthesizer can be your best musical friend or your worst enemy and Montenegro has the tendency to exploit the ARP's cheesy side a little too often. Still, having Wonder's compositions as an anchor prevents him from getting too far out there and he stays pretty loyal to the original arrangements. Good covers: "Living For the City", "Higher Ground", "Don't Worry About a Thing"Great covers: "Too High" (too funky), "Superstition" (spooky good). Run for cover: "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" (gag), "My Cherie Amour" (one of the worse covers of the song I've ever heard). Personally, I like this album better than his more sought-after "Moog Power." While that album does have a funky cover of "Dizzy", the rest of it just doesn't quite pull it off for me though I oddly liked his cover of Sinatra's "My Way". The main problem isn't Montenegro's mood playing -it's the vocals led by Ron Hicklin. Had this been an instrumental album, it would have improved its stock considerably.
|Music Inc.: Live At Slugs' Vol. II (Strata-East 1973)
After foolishly rushing in to snap up whatever LPs bore the Strata-East label, I chilled out and have become a lot more selective, thereby saving some disappointments, not to mention money. This is one of the better titles I've sampled thus far, partially b/c it's more straight-ahead than some of their free jazz material. I like Stanley Cowell's piano work a lot and Charles Tolliver's trumpet work is simply outstanding. Like I said, this is all fairly straight-ahead but a good listen for jazz aficionados.
|Mussolini Trio, Romano: Mirage (PDU 1977)|
Straight up -one of THE nicest albums I've come upon lately. An absolute masterpiece of funky Rhodes piano work done by the former son of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Romano's work on here is exemplery and whoever engineered this sucker deserves big credit too. The warmth of the Rhodes just melts through every track. The A-side begins with some cool, swinging, straightahead songs like "The Twitch" and "Omaggio A Oscar Peterson" but when you get to "Hong Kong", you get your first hint of what's to come. Super slinky and funky, like some Lalo Schifrin soundtrack stuff but drowning in the Rhodes tones. Then flip the disc and get down with the title track. After a long, slow intro, the song kicks it into gear with some hot bassline licks and strong drumming underneath. Groovadelic. Next cut "Blues for Alexandria" sparks with a tight open break, filled with some hot cymbal action and the track then just keeps on grooving along. This LP is the very definition of "soul jazz". It was reissued on Italy's Right Tempo but those copies are just as scarce to find nowadays as the original on Italy's PDU.
|Nero, Paul: Soul Party (Liberty 196?)|
I know big band and funk are not always well-matched and though Nero covers a lot of smashing soul songs on here ("Mustang Sally", "Land of 1,000 Dances", "Respect", "Tramp" etc.), much of it is kind of milque-toasty in a 60s pop way. The sole exception is Nero's own composition, "This is Soul" which kicks with a heavy drum lick and then Nero speaks, "you hear this? Drums? Swinging drums?" and then he proceeds to narrate in a series of additional instruments - bass, guitar, etc. Hot sh*t - a killer dance or mixtape cut.
|Ousley, Harold: the Kid (Cobblestone 1972)|
While the whole LP isn't blazing, it starts off strong enough with the Latin-influenced "The Kid". The rhythm propels it along with a forceful tempo. The real cut is "Forget It, I've Got It" however (and the only other song worth talking about). It kicks off with this sick drum break that then slides into a superior soul jazz song complete with some welcome breakdowns mid-way through. As good as anything I've heard in this vein of late and that includes cuts like Billy Butler's "A Blow For the Crossing" or Rudolph Johnson's "Diswa."
|Palmer, Robert: Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley (Island 1974)|
Years before his MTV makeover, Robert Palmer dropped this LP. I was under the mistaken impression that there was a big breakbeat on here but if there is, I sure didn't find it. What I did find a likably funky rock album, somewhere in the same field as Christine McVie's LP but falling a few points shy of matching her effort. There are breakbeats on here -just none open -but the funk vibe rocks the spot on the title track, "Get Outside" (a slower jam) and parts of the 12 minute monster cut, "Through It all There's You". He also does a surprisingly good cover of Esther Phillips' "From a Whisper to a Scream."
|Pamplemousse, Le: Gimme What You Got (AVI 1976)|
For a song that's been sampled pretty heavily by everyone from Jermaine Dupri to the Alkaholiks to Redman, 70% of this song is pure disco pop schlock. The good sh*t isn't until towards the end when the familiar, chunky bassline kicks in but it's hell to suffer getting there.
|Parker, Junior: You Don't Have to be Black to Love the Blues (Groove Merchant 1974)|
There's some great blues on here, especially a very soulful cover of "Way Back Home" but for real, I bought this for the cover.
|Patty OST (Stang 1976)|
This album looks decent -cuts by the Rimshots and Moments, but it's a very mellow, blaxploitation era album so be forewarned. The best song is one most are already familiar with -"Sexy Mama" by the Moments. There's nothing very funked up but there's some nicer, slower jams like the Rimshots' instrumental "Revelatoin" which is grooved out as well as the slightly dark "Takin' It". As far as soundtracks go, this is definitely not one of the illest however. Just a tad about middle of the road.
|Perrey, Jean-Jacques and Chazam, David: Eclektronics (Basenotic 1997)|
While it's only four years old, I have to give this love because it's such a silly and funky record of electronic music. If it wasn't for the fact that some of the rhythms sound just too contemporary (post-hip-hop influenced rather than pre, ala "E.V.A.") I would easily thought this was something JJP dreamed up in the Œ70s when he was powering up "Moog Indigo". The songs are entirely quirky, bordering on just plain silly at times, but it's a wonderfully fun listen as Perrey and Chazam goof off on their synthesizers while still laying down some thick, sick rhythm section. "What's Up Duck?" has to be a modern electronic classic -duck quacks anchored by some heavy drum break action. It bangs in a Saturday morning cartoon kind of way. Almost every cut on here is along the same vibe -"Analog Dialog", "Clones War", "Cyberbugs Time-Machine." Try this -you'll like it, trust me.
|Rhythm and Rhyme: Activities for Early Childhood (Melody House 197?)|
Source of the infamous "Pease Porridge Hot" breakbeat. As usual, Harrell and Sharron Lucky's singing is atrocious -just terrible which makes this fun to listen to just to clown how wack they come off. Unfortunately, unlike "Tempo For Tots" (another album on the same label), the only cut really worth talking about is "Pease Porridge."
|S.O.U.L.: Can You Feel It (Musicor 1972)|
Even before Primo sampled it for MOP, even before Large Pro flipped on it for Main Source, "Peace of Mind" was destined to be an all-time, bomb ass jammy jam. Or something like that. Is it the guitars that open, bringing the funk down like a carpet bombing? Is it Lee Lovett's vocals, coursing through? Is it the congo breakdown and the rest of the Sounds of Unity and Love telling you that ya "gotta have peace of mind"? Yes. That plus the rest of the album has this great, smooth soul-jazz appeal, that's not too rough, not too shiny but just the kind of thing to get you in the mood for weekend sunny days and warm nights. Don't front -you know this'll get you open. For those on a budget, don't forget that BGP reissued it a few years back.
|Santamaria, Mongo: Afro-Indio (Vaya 1975)|
I've been trying to get into a Latin kick of late and this Santamaria album was one of the first I went looking for. Not that it's a very conventional Latin album -compared to his earlier work on Riverside and Atlantic, it's quite different in sound, a result in so small part to the use of electronic keyboards that add an entirely different feel to this souled out effort. Personally, I'm really digging on it -it crosses genres between Latin and soul-jazz very nicely and has a great, laid-back funky feel to many of the songs (arranged by Justo Almario and William Allen mostly). Also, plenty of sublime Rhodes work (by Armen Donelian) which I'm a big fan of. Very strong rhythm section throughout the entire LP -the weak parts tend to be the melodics, especially the rather cheesy sax work strewn throughout. Surprisingly, "Funk Up" and "Funk Down" are two of the album's weaker cuts -for the hot joint, check "Los Indios" which kicks off with a chorus of synthesizers meshing in some electronic orgy but once the keys start to blend in the song takes a leisurely twist into sultry funkiness. For straight Afro-Latin flavor, check "Mambamongo" which prominently features the namesake's congo and bongo banging. I actually found myself liking "Creepin'" despite the aforementioned cheese saxophone playing -the melody arrangement is quite good even if the instrumentation could use some spicing up. "The Promised Land" is also quite good as is "Midnight and You."
|Santamaria, Mongo: Up From the Roots (Atlantic 1972)|
This is one of Santamaria's better Afro-Latin albums on Atlantic. Roll with "Para Ti" (yet another excellent version of this Santamaria classic), "Sofrito", "Jose Outside" or the funky "Forked Tongue." Very strong percussive element of many of the songs, especially the first half of the first side, a lot of which is almost pure percussion.
|Stitt, Sonny: Tornado (Jazz Masters 197?)|
I had just about given up on Sonny Stitt -most of the records by him I had heard were rather snoozy despite his reputation as one of the fathers of acid jazz and then Cool Chris at the Groove Merchant turned me onto this. Suddenly, I'm reinvigorated with faith that he actually had some ill soul-jazz to offer. This album, done with Eddie Russ on the Rhodes, is one of probably three albums that Stitt recorded for Jazz Masters and it's outstanding. The compositional and arrangement work is top notch -very, very soulful and funky. Even "We've Only Just Begun" -one of the cheesiest pop songs ever recorded -sounds pretty damn good with the warm tones of Stitt's horn melding with Russ' piano work. The massive bombs are "Tornado" and superb cover of "Spinning Wheel" -one of the best I've heard of this cover-classic. Also check out another soulful masterpiece, "By My Side." For some reason, listening to this album reminds me of watching an episode of Barney Miller. Go figure. Go find this.
|Super Sister: Pudding and Yesterday (Polydor UK 1972)|
A rather bizarre psych fusion album from a Holland rock/jazz/pop group that released several albums in the 1970s, this being probably their "best" known, though I'm not quite sure what that means in this context. The mix of music on here is eclectic to say the least but it has two notable tracks for the funk-oriented. The first is "Judy Goes On a Holiday" which starts off with the revving sound of a motorcycle and then switches directly into a raucous guitar riff that DJ Shadow made excellent use of on the "Organ Donor" remix. For the next three minutes or so, the song clips along on an uptempo pace but it's not really rockin' on the one so the dance floor possibilities are limited. Mid-way through, it drifts into some mellow jazz atmospherics. On the flipside, "Pudding And Gisteren" is a monster jazz-fusion cut that probably clocks at least 10 minutes long (if not more). About two or three minutes in, it hits an unexpected, funky jazz breakdown complete with floating Rhodes notes and a strong rhythm riff and this holds up for the next three or four minutes and then flips into some moog-ed out electronic sh*t.
|Trinidad Steel Drum Band: Super Album (Cherry Hill 197?)|
All you need to know about this album is that it has steel drum versions of 1) "Spinning Wheel" and 2) "Sissy [sic] Strut". And yes, that's as good as it sounds. Killer, killer sh*t that has the potential to blow up the dancefloor like a bottle of nitro.
|Toussaint, Allen: Life, Love and Faith (Warner Bros. 1972)|
While this comes after their Josie years together, it's only 1972 so Toussaint and the Meters still have a good vibe going. It's not as stripped down and funkalistic as the three Meters LPs but there's some good moments: "Victims of the Darkness" and "Out of the City (Into Country Life") being the two best examples, especially the latter with its heavy guitar riff at the intro and Ziggy Modeliste's thum-thumpin' on the drums. Sounds like something they might have put together for Dr. John, especially the fun, soulful "Soul Sister" which may not rip but is great listening material anyways. Be warned though -there's a lot of fairly dull songs on here too, especially the more country soul pieces.
|Turkbas, Ozel: How to Belly Dance For Your Sultan (Elay 19??)|
You wouldn't expect anything remotely funky on this kitschy belly dance record but peep "Ozel's Dance" about two minutes in, for 16 bars. Iller than the outfit Ozel rocks on the cover.
|United States Air Force Academy Falconaires: Graffiti (USAF Academy 196?)|
An instrumental album in the vein of stage bands or Enoch Light. While a lot of this is over-orchestrated, there are some hot spots, like their version of "Here I Am Baby" which has a lot of great energy behind it. That plus a funky version of James Taylor's "Fire and Rain" complete with a snappy breakbeat behind the tune (not open). Not outstanding music overall, but good pop instrumentals if you're so inclined to peep it out.
|V/A: Disco Gold (Scepter 1975)|
While there's some ok soul-dance tracks on here, lets just cut to the quick -Patti Jo's "Make Me Believe In You", one of Curtis Mayfield's better productions. Apparently, the original is on a Wand 7" but few have ever seen it. Moreover, this version extends on the breakbeat that begins the song, practically making it half the total length. While many would swear that the Jackson Sisters' "Miracles" is the hot, funky disco track of the era, I'm more than willing to go to bat for "Make Me Believe In You." Not only does it spark off with a bangin' breakbeat but also a slick bassline and then Jo's vocals slide in so nicely, it's like syrup on a sundae. The song's been reissued on 12" and 45 by Original Sound Track Recordings and features a new edit where it's now almost 75% breakbeat. Insane.
|V/A: Get Up and Boogie T.E.J. (1976)|
I've always been curious who the hell bought these records, featuring anonymous bands covering a host of dance and disco tracks. Must've been the whole disco craze or something but I just can't imagine something like this going over today. Anyways, all commentary aside, this is fairly unnotable except for two theme show covers, both fun and funky: "Barreta's Theme" and "S.W.A.T.". The latter is one of the best covers I've heard, staying fairly close to the Rhythm Heritage version but just different enough to make it worth a listen. Non-essential LP for most diggers but if you come upon randomly, take a chance to peep.
|Wycoff, Michael: Love Conquers All (RCA 1982)|
I dislike synth soul from the early Œ80s as much as anyone but you can't front on "Looking Up At You." Sublime stuff -no wonder Zhane bit it for "Hey, Mr. DJ".