Monday, 23 June 2008
10 essential albums for the true Funkateer
1. Amnesty are a fabulous band but have only ever released one good album and this is it!It is laden with horns, harmonies and frenetic riffs! It is pure funk but also pure jazz! Opener, 'Can I help you' sets the scene and from then on hold on for the crazy, funky journey that ensues. If i was, for any reason, on Desert Island Discs, it would be the first record i would ask for!
2. Similarly so with Ike Turner's Black Man's Soul. This was recorded in 1969 and it sounds as fresh as something Orgone or the Dap-Kings might create today! It has it all - 'Thinking black', 'Ghetto Funk' and 'Funky Mule'. The whole album drips with the pure sweat of funk!
3. Cymande - Cymande. All 3 Cymande albums are the epitomy of Funk perfection but this is THE album to own. The band are as funky as hell and British to boot(really - they sound so American!). Every song here is a winner. 'Dove' is beautiful and funky, 'the message' is keyboard heavy funk and 'brothers on the slide' is so damn cool that, if you listen to it on hadphones walking down the street, watch out because you'll find yourself doing a little pimp walk.
4. Commodores - Machine Gun is an amazing dirty, squelchy and Funky sounding album. It's hard to think that the person who performed "Hello, is it me your looking for" is the same guy who sang "young girls are my weakeness" on this album. You must listen to this album. It is easy enough to find and also quite cheap. It is, in my eyes, more of a funk staple (and i know this is blasphemy) than anything James Brown did! Incidentally, I also feel the same way about Booker T and the MGs (the true creators of Funk!).
5. Experinece Unlimited - Experience Unlimited is a corker! Mid 1970's guitar funk, horns and keyboard bliss! It brings to mind the early Earth, wind and fire sound.'Free yourself' is a particularly inFunktious song!
6. Mandrill - Fencewalk (anthology)- 2 discs, 31 songs in total. A good deal. You'll can pick it up for about £13 (approx. $26) from Amazon. It has all the classics - Mango Meat, Children of the sun, Fencewalk and Fat City Strut. Horn, Bluesy Bass and pumping drums. Pure Funk with excursions into Jazz, Blues, Rock, Soul and even Latin (hear 'Fat City Strut'). There is something for everyone. All these qualities make them contenders for kings of Funk.
7. Poets of rhythm - Practice what you preach - we welcome the young pretenders to the throne! Released in 2006 but could have been released in 1966. The Poets are one the new bunch, along with the Bamboos, Sugarman 3, the Dap Kings and the Budos Band, who have mirrored the sound of those Funk-daddies from the '60's. They haven't adapted the sound too much because it don't need updating - it still is as fresh as when it was first created. This album is a melting ice-cream, melting because of all the heat that you've generated through all the dancing you've been doing, from the likes of 'more mess on my thing' (track 1) til' 'saltin' the soup' (track 11). The band make great use of horns and the wah-wah pedal.
8. Sly and the Family Stone - There's a riot goin' on - A mish-mash of styles and tunes, cobbled together in a boiling Funk pot and mixed together by the Psychadelic prince of Funk. This was Sly Stone's 5th album and one where he was clearly off his head, either by his predeliction for drugs or his waning hold on reality. Nevertheless, it makes the music sound fantastic and weird. 'Spaced Cowboy' is truly a measure of Sly's state of mind here! A Psychadelic Funk-ridden good ol' Country song. I never liked Country up until this point! 'Family Affair' is great, 'runnin' away' is similarly so and the highlight is straight Funk 'you caught me smilin''. This album is the blueprint for P-Funk in places and in others Sly has just gone to a dark place!
9. Magnum - Fully Loaded - man oh man, what an album. Only 7 songs but it has it all Funk, Jazz, Afrobeat, bass-driven Blues, Soul and no justification for this other than "it's the music that makes us do it". 'Your mind' has some of the best accapello funk that i've ever heard!
10.James Brown - The Payback - From the solid onset of 'the payback' we are taken on a journey through the gritty urban streets of Brown's early background. It is a cry out against drugs' importance in Ghetto life. It seems like Brown sat down one day and said to himself, 'i gotta do something about them drugs messing up my ghetto!'. 'Take some, leave some' is a diatribe against cocaine - "need some dust,it changes us". The whole album is a tight, well orchestrated document of funk (maybe too tight for my liking!)
Go on, get 'em all!