Tag Archives: funk

324. Funkadelic – “Ultimate Funkadelic”

The complex world of George Clinton’s P-Funk collective can be tricky to delineate. I own more from the Parliament side of the coin than from Funkadelic, but have always struggled to distinguish the real difference between the two entities.

This here is one of many greatest hits collections from these funk icons. It contains some of the greatest recorded sounds you will ever here.  These guys took what James Brown was doing (and many of his band members) and added an absurdity and lack of restraint he was never quite willing to embrace.

The basslines are contagious, the vocals primal (and regularly silly).  How can you resist grooves (and stage garb) like this?:

Freak of the Week, One Nation…, and the astounding Who Says A Funk Band Can’t Play Rock? make this album (or any album with said tracks a ‘must own’).

The rest of the album doesn’t ever hit those heights (although it is fun to play ‘spot the sample’). The adventures into psychedelia have never quite grabbed me. I thus play my Parliament collections much more regularly.

I do wish I’d been there for their 1970s live extravaganzas however.

File under: Get some funk in your trunk

318. Roosevelt Franklin – “The Year of Roosevelt Franklin/My Name is Roosevelt Franklin”

This is a rare instance where I actually possess two copies of the same album (both on vinyl), each with a different cover, released in different years with different titles, but the same tracks.

I was introduced to a song off this relatively hard to come by Sesame St production by two different mates of mine who once had aspirations of starting a Jim Henson cover band. I ended up chasing it around 2nd hand stores and online auctions for several years (the cover on the right is the better package as it’s gate fold).

Little Roosevelt may well be some mutant muppet lovechild of the afore-reviewed Aretha. He certainly was for a short time the hippest, blackest, most righteous non-human in the neighbourhood, hanging out with the mega-cool original Gordon (who in real life fathered Hoffs from 21 Jump Street who was a powerful black woman of another generation). He sang black power songs that probably inspired the rise of Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Emmanuel Lewis.

This is a fantastic album, almost enough to prompt procreation, just so your precocious offshoot can sing the alphabet like this:

The album itself features considerably funkier versions than in that clip (hard to imagine I know). The collection is diverse from jazz to blues, funk to soul, and even some mariachi action. Several of the tracks are just simple learn the alphabet, months and days of the week devices:

Others are about empowerment (Skin I’m in), sharing (Halfies) and cooperating (Me and You), crossing the road (the brilliant Safety Boy Blues) and the best version of King Midas’ story ever.

In a perfect world this would be handed to each new parent as they leave the hospital. Within a generation we’d all look like the cast of Good Times and be more peace-loving and right-on than Michael Franti.

File under: You’re sure to love this as sure as a moose loves moose juice.

303. Fishbone – “The Reality of My Surroundings”

I doubt there is an album in my collection which so regularly gets thrown in the CD tray for only two songs .

Album Cover CD Fishbone the Reality of my Surroundings reviewFishbone deliver two classic funk-rock tracks here, covering off on each end of the weather spectrum: Everyday Sunshine and Sunless Saturday

Both are horn-heavy jams, with fantastic rhythms and an energy that is uplifting and contagious.

I should play the whole album more regularly as it is a very cohesive set of power-funk. These guys bridge the world of Parliament and James Brown with punk-ska. As with Parliament, they are not afraid to get out the squealy rock guitar, and the riffs are even more metal-audience-friendly.

They nail anthems, with Fight the Youth and Pray to the Junkie Maker joining the aforementioned duo of gems as the sort of tracks you pray to hear in the live context.

A good mate still rates seeing them on their 1991 or 1992 Aussie tour among his best gigs here. I did eventually catch these guys live, but well after the career peak which was the masterpiece.  They still had sufficient mojo to have me querying why their fellow-LA-sters Red Hot Chilli Peppers made it big while these guys didn’t:

File under: This reality doesn’t bite

30. The Beastie Boys – “The In Sound From The Way Out!”

Over the past couple of reviews, I have chastised the Beastie Boys somewhat for their inconsistency in terms of sound and approach, i.e. for not sticking to their core competency – rapping. It was not because they were doing a bad job of other genres, especially in the jazz-funk domain; rather, it was that these excursions just didn’t sit that comfortably alongside each other. The shift from loungy funk to shouty punk to vocal heavy raps was often too jarring.

beastie-boys-the-in-sound-from-way-out-album-coverSo I was delighted when they pieced together their various instrumental efforts for this compilation. This is the Boys as hip and groovy, skivvy wearing, funny cigarette smoking, jazz funksters. The tracks sit together so perfectly that it is hard to imagine that they weren’t conceived as a coherent whole.

This could be the soundtrack for some 70s blaxploitation film, or effort of a some Scando-Japanese progressive jazz collective. There is not a lyric in sight.

I challenge anyone to say this is what they expected to hear from Ad-Rock etc. It’s a stand-out effort for mine.

File under: Funky fest.