A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
BASN PRESENTS POST – MILLENIUM FONK (OR WHAT’S ON YOUR TURNTABLE?) PART I
BASN PRESENTS POST-MILLENIUM FONK, PART I
By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor in Chief
PHILADELPHIA (BASN) : What is Soul? According to Funkadential Candidate George Clinton (who I really wish was running), soul is “a ham hock in your corn flakes.” That’s as good an answer to question with as many answers as styles. In the minds of many, it translates to Black church gospel. But soul can be a soaring aria, or an instrumental moment speaking louder than any lyric can call forth.
From “race music” to rhythm and blues, to funk, to hip-hip and beyond, soul music has been part of the cultural fabric for over 60 years. Incorporated in present day pop culture as “old school” recent articles and trends have shown that older music is currently selling at a greater rate than much of the stuff that has come out over the past few years…
With the new millennium finally broken in, I will attempt to throw in the pot my 20 selections which should give you a firm foundation – and an overview of soul and funk music. Before we truly get into it, I will say right off the top that Michael Jackson’s THRILLER album will not be in this list because it sold more than any other in history – so y’all should already have it (smile!)
Every decade is represented with at least one selection from the 1950s and up. Now you know a lotta stuff won’t be in the mix given all this ground to cover, so no death threats, please; but you know if you have at least one of these, you’re ahead of the game.
Counting down from #20 – and the number isn’t as important as the inclusion; just my take on it:
20. JILL SCOTT: THE REAL THING, WORDS AND SOUNDS, VOL 3: Ms. Scott, born and raised in Philadelphia, straddles jazz, funk and rhythm and blues into a concoction dubbed ‘neo-soul’ as she calls on her gifts to present a musically tight and aurally pleasing presentation of grown folks music which was a marked change from much what that came out in the first part of the decade. Done in 2007, it is one of the few works of that decade which one can enjoy from start to finish.
19. TALKING BOOK: STEVIE WONDER: Done in 1972, Stevie should probably thank Marvin Gaye for kicking down the artistic door. Finished after Marvin had done ‘What’s Going On?’ Stevie created three iconic songs from this album as “Superstition” You’ve Got it Bad Girl” and “You Are The Sunshine of My Life” led to many covers and just as “Off The Wall” ushered in a more mature sound for Michael Jackson post – J5 and The Jacksons via Quincy Jones, Talking Book confirmed that the twelve – year old genius – had grown up. Everyone remembers the album cover in braille where Stevie left us another message aside from the awesome music. I didn’t know what it the translation was until a re-mastered version came out in 2000:
“Here is my music. It is all I have to tell you how I feel. Know that your love keeps my love strong – Stevie.”
18. PRINCE: SIGN O’THE TIMES: I will say in advance that PURPLE RAIN will be in a separate ‘soundtracks’ category. The Purple One was at the height of his Royal BadAzzNess when he cooked this one up in 1986. A double album with an accompanying video, this one brings forth every aspect of Prince’s game: on stage showmanship, all original material, different genres, and amazing vocals – from the very understated “ballad of Dorothy Parker” call response/fonk of “Housequake” to swooping and dipping on “Adore” – one of the most beautiful beg-for-it ballads these ears have ever heard…
17. KOOL AND THE GANG: LIVE AT THE SEX MACHINE: Many fans of this group may know them only as far back as “Ladies Night” and “Celebration” but these brothers from Jersey City have been making impactful music for generations. Done in 1970, it takes you through a live set of one of the funkiest bands to walk the earth. Five impressive covers of songs from Jimmy Webb, Brenda and the Tabulations, Burt Bacharach, the Delfonics and Sly Stone in addition to some of the tightest horn arrangements around – punctuated by the ingenious “Pneumonia.”
These gems may not have been as commercially popular as the more recent stuff, but because older is better (musically) this is a great sample of what these brothers really sounded like!
16. SLAVE: STONE JAM: From the Epicenter of FONK, Dayton, Ohio! Formed in 1975, Slave’s groove changed after adding vocals when this album dropped in 1980. Starleana Young was a great asset vocally as Slave could transition from ballad to dance better than most of that era. There was a great mix of laid back, pat-your-foot driving grooves like the funk classic ”Watching You”, ballads like “Starting Over” – and wicked, hard-driving tracks like Sizzling Hot” and the very underrated “Never Get Away.” An intriguing change artistically, but still with the edge which made everyone notice them Back in the Day…
15. HEATWAVE: CENTRAL HEATING: Off the success of their first smokin’ hot effort (Too Hot To Handle) these cats took the Dayton fonk flava across the water in forming one of the best bands – and live acts of the 1970s. Released in the United Kingdom in 1977, the band’s versatility is on display in how they bring you all the way back after taking you out to a different place musically. Keyboardist Rod Temperton’s lyrics would offer a tease to where he was headed with Michael Jackson later. Lead singer Johnnie Wilder’s vocals and the beautiful guitar coda on “The Star of The Story” are an amazing combination; now I know why George Benson wanted to do his own version of this song. ”Groove Line” and the two-tone flavored and soul versions of ”Mind Blowing Decisions” provide an insight into the band’s stage presence as well as their musicianship.
14. OHIO PLAYERS: PAIN: While their more well known works like Skin Tight were signature grooves, like Kool and the Gang, these brothers came in the door Big Pimpin’ musically when this was released in 1972. With an array of jazz, blues and soul laid out over keyboardist Billy Beck’s gospel – laced chords and wicked horn section, the Players were true to their name. What you heard in studio, you heard live – and this album would prove as intriguing inside as its album covers – featuring a sexy babe named Pat in S&M poses through a four album ‘discography’ (including Pleasure, Ecstasy and Climax). The title track is an essence of everything the group is: funky, bluesy and supremely confident in their style.
always outnumbered…never outgunned.
Next time – Numbers – 13 – 6…
Copyright (c) 2016 Michael – Louis Ingram all rights reserved.