Friday, January 12, 2007

Funky Friday Is What It Is!

Happy New Year. I'm back from my two week (unplanned) hiatus. It's been awfully quiet around here the last few weeks, largely due to the holidays, entertaining house guests and general apathy about writing anything. I've been far more inclined to recline on the couch and surf the cable, watching Around The Horn & PTI on ESPN and then surfing back and forth between CNN & Current TV. December and January are notoriously slow months for new music, so I haven't been shopping much. However, one of my Xmas gifts was a gift certificate to my fave record shop, so last week I splurged and used it towards buying the bitching box set I'm about to introduce to you...

91 songs spread over 4 CDs, culled from the vaults of Atlantic, Atco and Warner Bros. Records. A lovely hardcover box, about 7 inches square. A great book, full of photos and stories about every track. All of it adds up to What It Is!, a collection of funky soul and rare grooves spanning from 1967 to 1977. It features rare sides from well-known acts plus killer grooves from lesser-known acts, so the array of artists is pretty wide - from The Commodores, Earth, Wind & Fire, Curtis Mayfield, Little Richard and Aretha Franklin to The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, Rasputin's Stash and Cold Grits. It is a smorgasbord of soul, a feast of funk and a gang of grooves that I am still absorbing. It's glorious stuff, both the original songs and lots of great covers too. Enjoy some fine funk gems...

Johnny Cameron and The Camerons - Funky John - a fantastic one-off single from 1970 with smokin' chunky bass and guitar and loads of horn. There's a party goin' on!

6ix - I'm Just Like You - can you say Sly Stone? No, really. 6ix was a pseudonym used by Sly to put out music on his own label, Stone Flower, while he was under contract with Atlantic. Playing everything, once again Sly shows his mighty influence on modern music, especially the Purple One.

Lulu - Feelin' Alright - a pop star in the UK since the '60s, this cover of the Traffic classic finds Lulu in the Muscle Shoals studio in the year 1970, with a band that included Duane Allman and her then hubby Maurice Gibb. Swanktastic, funky, and her gritty voice is perfect for it.

Young-Holt Unlimited - Wah Wah Man - riding in on a stone cold classic beat that has been sampled by just about everybody in downtempo and jungle, this is a jazzy little tribute to the lovely effect that is the wah wah pedal.

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