Saturday, January 28, 2012

Funk Friday - January 27th 2012

1. Funk Power - Creative Funk

In 1971 a group of friends between the ages of 17 to 21 from Queens, NYC got together to start their own DIY record label and release some tunes in their neighbourhood, grassroots style. The A-side of their first record "Ready Made Family" sold over 25,000 units in the NYC area. This track is the B-side of the same record, a hard-grooving funky bomb called "Funk Power".
2. Eddie Simpson - Big Black Funky Slave

A very rare track most famously sampled by DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist on their also rare album, "Product Placement". I wasn't able to dig up much about Simpson, other than he was a little-known artist on Duke Records out of Houston. Duke was one of many southern R&B/Soul labels that proliferated in the 60s and 70s, cranking out funky EPs that were mildly popular at the time, eventually fading into obscurity until discovered by today's crate-digging DJ crowd.
3. Motherlode - When I Die

 Coming straight out of London, Ontario, Motherlode are generally known as one-hit-wonders with the pop-soul track "When I Die." With a huge smooth hook and tight rhythm section, the song made it to #18 on the U.S Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1969 but the band was never able to stay in the pop charts, only releasing one subsequent album after their 1970 debut LP. The song was resurrected in the popular consciousness by the late, great Hip-Hop producer J-Dilla, who sampled the track on the intro to his LP "Donuts."

Funk Friday - January 20th 2012

1. Haruomi Hosono - Bara to Yajyu 

An intensely heavy piece of rare groove all the way from Japan. Haruomi Hosono, known in Japan as a member of influential folk-rock group "Happy End", had one of the songs he wrote for the band featured in Sophia Coppola's "Lost in Translation".
2. Hilton Felton - Bee Bop Boogie
Monstrous jazz-groove track from another highly prolific, extremely versatile jazz pianist/organist. Hilton Felton toured with George Benson, founded and managed his own record label and scored his biggest hit from the "Man for All Reasons" album, a prized rare jazz-funk album being reissued sometime this year. 
3. Steam Heat - Funk 'N' Roll
Steam Heat's "Austin Funk" LP is currently out of print on vinyl, with only 1000 copies ever pressed, making it a really tough-to-find gem even for Austin locals. A track so funky it might tear your head clean off.

Funk Friday - January 13th 2012

1. Brass Construction - Get Up

This fantastic Soul Train rendition of a hit by popular late 70s' Disco-Funk band Brass Construction is a testament to the musicianship that remained in Black music while popular radio went mainstream with repetitive, overproduced Disco-Dance singles.
2. The Meters - Cissy Strut 
(08/12/11: Outside Lands - San Francisco, CA)

The Meters are simply the most influential workout-funk band of all time. After breaking up officially in 1977, spawning offshoot bands that some of us may already know and love (Neville Brothers, The Funky Meters, Zigaboo Modeliste Band), the so called "Original" Meters reunited last year to play a few select shows. Here's a decent clip of the Original Meters performing a jammed out version of "Cissy Strut", easily my favorite workout-funk song ever. 
3. The Meters - Here Comes the Meter Man
Here' s a great example of "workout-funk" from the Original Meters. Workout-funk is basically a really spare and stripped down sub-genre of funk that is entirely instrumental, with tracks usually no longer than five minutes given their simplistic song structures. The Original Meters are the undisputed kings of the genre.

Funk Friday - January 6th 2012 - Funky Hip Hop

1.The Roots Ft. Big KRIT - Make My

The Roots are one of the most socially and philosophically thought-provoking hip-hop groups ever. Their latest album "Undun" is a concept album told from the perspective of a dead hustler looking back on his life. This is my favorite track off the LP, one of the most gorgeously written and performed hip-hop tracks of 2011.
2. Kero One - Fly Fly Away

Kero One is an independent hip-hop artist out of San Francisco that has released two very dense, very funky and very jazzy records. He has been compared to Kanye West and Q-Tip in his use of real instruments and vocalists in his production.

3. Alpha Noise - New Girl

Tight beat on this track from independent Hip-Hop crew Alpha.Noise. Early 90's style jazz/funk production here. A timely song for me personally, but don't take the lyrics too seriously. Whenever I end a relationship with a girl this is really my go-to track. The MCs alternate between desperate, egotistical and downright cool on this one.

Funk Friday - December 30th 2011

1. Johnny Guitar Watson - Ain't That A Bitch

 Man has got "guitar" in his name. Song's called "Ain't That A Bitch." If both those things don't scream of The Funk, then I don't know what does.
 2. George Duke - Funny Funk 

An infectious fusion-funk workout with some pretty mind-melting parts from keyboard virtuoso George Duke and legendary drummer Ndugu (Leon) Chancler.
 3. Betty Davis - If I'm In Luck I Might Get Picked Up                                                            
 Betty Davis (2nd wife of Miles) is the undisputed queen of Hard-Funk Rock music. Legendary bassist Larry Graham (of Sly Stone & Graham Central Station) on here.

Funk Friday - December 21st 2011

1. East of Underground - "(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below

A raw and heavy version of a classic Curtis Mayfield track. Taken from the recently released 3-LP "East of Underground", a compilation of music made by members of a U.S army funk band during the height of the Vietnam War, this track is a powerful reminder of the sacrifices of the American soldier. Timely, given the pullout of soldiers in Iraq this week.

2. The Stovall Sisters - Hang On In There

The Stovall Sisters toured with some of the biggest names in funk & soul (Earth Wind & Fire, Al Green, Bobby Womack). A fantastic piece of jammed out gospel-spiced funk from their 1971 self-titled album. 
3.  KC Roberts and the Live Revolution - Sexy And I Know It (LMFAO cover)
KC Roberts and the Live Revolution are hands down the funkiest outfit operating in the greater region of the city known as Torontonia (or Toronto, for short). Here's a super-funky cover of a pop song that most of us either dislike or secretly listen to late at night when everyone's asleep.