BASN PRESENTS POST MILLENIUM FONK – PART III (AND FONK TO GROW ON!)

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Updated: September 14, 2016
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BASN PRESENTS POST MILLENIUM FONK – THE TOP FIVE!

By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor – in- Chief

BASN

 

 

PHLADELPHIA (BASN) Here is our Top Five in your Post Millennium Groove Survival Kit:

 

 

5. ETTA JAMES – AT LAST: Done over a ten month period in 1960, the raw soul of James seemed to be at odds with the plan to have an orchestra (a la Ray Charles) accompany her down-home vocals. After approximately four months of conflict, it finally dawned on the Chess Records people to leave her the fuck alone – and leave her to work it as she saw fit…remember, this is 1960…

 

 

When Etta did finally cut loose, unfettered by ancillary nonsense, the result was money. “All I Could Do Was Cry,” “I Just Wanna Make Love To You,” “At Last,” “Trust in Me,” and “Sunday Kind of Love” became a treasure trove of blues and sass – as the project evolved with all involved settling into an artistic comfort zone. An old-school classic where every track was a pure joy. Be it jazz, pop or soul standard, Etta James made the project magic; no mean feat for The Queen of the Blues…

 

 

 

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4. JAMES BROWN – SEX MACHINE: It’s one thing to hear The Godfather of Soul, and a totally different thang to see him performing live. This double album set done in 1970 catches The Godfather at home “in Augusta, Georgia, with his Bad Self!” Over an hour of FONK as The Brown gets down with rock-solid soul and chilly instrumentals like “Lowdown Popcorn” and a rare cover of Blood, Sweat and Tears’ “Spinning Wheel.” The album defining moment for me is when The Brown segues out of “I Got the Feelin’” during his kick-ass medley – and Bootsy Collins (yes THAT Bootsy) sets the table for the band’s monster translation of “Give It Up – Turnit Loose” – with guitarist Jimmy Nolen’s impeccable, clipped style on lead guitar; his ‘less is more’ approach compliments the funk power which comes to crescendo at end of side two of the album; as if ready to slide into to intermission…as the crowd is still hyped and appetites whetted, ready for more!

 

 

Just as with Marvin’s “Let’s Get It On,” Sex Machine is massive by itself – but pales in comparison to another Brown  soul/funk epic…

 

 

 

 

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3. PARLIAMENT – MOTHERSHIP CONNECTION: Funk icon George Clinton re-invades planet Earth in 1975, returning from Outer Space – to ‘reclaim the Pyramids.’ Over 40 minutes of serious toe jam as the Interplanetary Brothers provide The Clinton with the metaphor to lead his P-Funk Legions Vast into the next century. The distinct horns of Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker set the table beautifully as the segue between the opening track “P-Funk (Wants to get Funked Up”) and ”Starchild” is flawless. No love songs on this one – unless you love The Fonk; making this effort an argument for the first true hip-hop concept album…

 

 

 

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2. MARVIN GAYE – WHAT’S GOING ON: ‘What’s going on?’ could have been the first words coming out of Gaye’s mouth when Motown Records main man Berry Gordy voiced his displeasure after hearing the finished product in 1971. The ‘product’ was a concept album; a musical stream-of-consciousness on everything from the war in Vietnam to drugs, religion, poverty, police brutality and problems in the Inner City. Only Gaye’s star power allowed for the release, with no ringing endorsement from Motown management…

 

 

Gordy’s crossover fears of offense were unfounded, as the album was and still is 45 years later – an international smash, acclaimed worldwide as a thought-provoking masterpiece.

 

 

In what has to go down as one of the greatest cultural injustices ever, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences chose to ignore Gaye’s accomplishments with “What’s Going On” – denying Gaye a Grammy Award in any category that year (Lou Rawls won best R&B performance that year for ‘Natural Man’) – so there wasn’t even an attempt to relegate the masterwork to a specific genre.

 

 

One must at least consider the possibility that had Gaye been given his props for his work, perhaps his story would not have taken such a tragic turn – in spite of his later commercial success. The Academy did posthumously award the album in 1998, accepting the entire work into its Hall of Fame – big fucking deal – because the damage was done.

 

 

Greg Bechtloff, Grammy Awards Coordinator, says in an interview with this reporter for the Poughkeepsie Journal in 2000, further attempts were made to recognize Marvin Gaye. “We gave Mr. Gaye a Lifetime Achievement Award  in 1996 – and of course, the tone of the country was different then 1971. That said, nothing should be taken away from Marvin Gaye’s efforts, which made ’What’s Going On’ – the great recording it is.”

 

 

Lost in the platitudes was the technical excellence and contribution Gaye made to modern recording with multi-track vocal recording. Gaye layered all his background vocals himself (which was magnificently done especially on “Flyin’ High in the Friendly Sky”), a feat attempted and which inspired many performers (Graham Greene’s 10 CC and their hit ‘I’m Not In Love’ layered overdubs is a good example) but with the exceptions of Prince and Stevie Wonder, done with equal skill.

 

 

 

and now, BASN’S NUMBER ONE Post-Millennium Must Have:

 

 

 

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1. JAMES BROWN – LIVE AT THE APOLLO, VOLUME ONE: Recorded in October of 1962, the live recording was the second set of The Brown’s show. Frustrated by King Records’ owner Syd Nathan’s refusal to record him in a live performance, The Hardest Working Man In Show Business rented equipment and recorded the show himself, unbeknownst to the attending crowd.

 

 

The result is the greatest live concert album ever. Why? Because it captures the electricity and spontaneity of The Brown at the height of his Soul Power – Good GAWD!

 

 

Every facet of Soul Brother #1 is on display; his rapport with the screaming fans, the mastery of his super – bad band and his showmanship – right down to the obligatory cape on the shoulders, tossed aside to the delight of the cheering throng.

 

 

James Brown’s bona fide performance made soul real to those previously virgin ears everywhere; and made a believer out of King Records, who would record “Live at the Apollo, Volume Two” at the Apollo a year later. A third live performance, (aka ’Revolution of the Mind’) was done in 1968 to complete the trilogy.

 

 

 

And now, some FONK to Grow On…

 

Our Honorable Mention “GOTS Ta Have It” Selections…

 

OTIS BLUE – Otis Redding (1965) with the original version of ‘Respect’ – the first two lines of which ev’ry female on Planet Earth knows…

 

HOT  BUTTERED SOUL – Isaac Hayes. (1969) ‘Walk On By’ goes far beyond anything Burt Bacharach could’ve conceived – a supremely amazing translation!

 

THE TIME – THE TIME (1981)  debut Album is ‘cooler than Santa Claus, baybee!’

 

WAR – THE WORLD IS A GHETTO  (1972) told you ‘no death threats’ – with ‘cisco kid’ and the mega-classic instrumental ‘city country city.’

 

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GRACE JONES – SLAVE TO THE RHYTHM (1985) Dame Grace The Innovator – did it longer – and better – than all those before and since in any genre; a beautiful, powerful walking stream of consciousness…

 

DONNY HATHAWAY – EXTENSION OF A MAN (1973)  (great cover of j.r. bailey’s ‘love love love’ – and ‘take it from me – someday we’ll all be free’ a true talent)

 

RUFUSIZED – RUFUS (1974) Funk, blues and soul (excellent cover of Bobby Womack’s ‘stop on by’) – driven by the baddest female voice on the planet in Ms. Chaka Khan!

 

KEEP ON BUMPIN’ AND MASTERPLAN – THE KAY-GEES (1974) amazing jazz n funk served by Robert ‘ Kool’ Bell’s baby brother and company; very underrated.

 

RICK JAMES – STREET SONGS (1981) she’s a super freak – supa freekin’ yowwwwwwww…

 

TOWER OF POWER (1973) West Coast Fonk from the East Bay of Oakland. ‘what is hip?’ with arguably the best horn section in R&B/funk.

 

BLACK MOSES (1971)  a primer on how to cover great songs – and make them greater; the album cover alone is worth it.

 

 

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1999 – PRINCE (1982) make a chock full o’ grooves with a song that goes gold then – and 17 years later in time for the millennium, of course; that’s a baaaaaaaaddd l’il brotha…

 

CHOCOLATE CITY – PARLIAMENT (1975) after reclaiming the Pyramids, the P- Funkers take over the nation’s Capital…

 

THE SOS BAND – BAND ON THE RISE (1983) groovin’ below the Mason/Dixon with this crew from Hot ‘lanta – and the hotter songs ‘just be good to me’ and ‘tell me if you still care’ -great vocals from lead singer Mary Davis!

 

 

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JOURNEY TO THE LIGHT – BRAINSTORM (1978) Detroit funk shaped around the great bass work of Deon Estus and vocalist Belita Woods…’we’re on our way home, part 1′ – is naaasty.

 

LOVE DELUXE – SADE (1992) all original music, all fantastic. Sade’s best work (imho)

 

THE HEAT IS ON – THE ISLEY BROTHERS (1975) the ultimate mix of funk n romance as the ‘dancing, then romancing’ format was established on an album, with Ronnie Isley’s strong falsetto holding up big-time; guitarist Ernie Isley gives you a little Hendrix flava on ‘hope you feel better love’ and make me say it again, girl’ – is a between-the-sheets classic…  

 

LIGHT OF WORLDS – KOOL AND THE GANG (1974) the amazing ‘summer madness’ is sandwiched in this on-point thirty six minutes of pure flow…

 

WHATCHA SEE IS WHATCHA GET – THE DRAMATICS (1971) - Tony Hester takes a page from the Thom Bell playbook and creates a half – hour gem; the Dramatics’ best album by far.

 

 

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BUTT, OF COURSE – THE JIMMY CASTOR BUNCH (1975) - Noo Yawk born and bred ‘The Everything Man’ kills on this album  – especially the ultra-funky ‘potential.’

 

BOOKER T. AND THE M.G.’S – MELTING POT (1970) Nasty stuff from the Stax vault; title track is one of the greatest instrumentals of all time, calling The Ancestors to the dance floor every time it’s played!

 

and our super secret funk gem:

 

 

FOLLOW THE WIND – MIDNIGHT MOVERS, UNLTD. (1974) over 45 minutes of foot patting, ass – grabbing dance grooves and soul from Wilson Pickett’s band doin’ their own thang; excellent horn arrangements - the title track and ‘party with every muscle in your body’ make for a great listen…

 

 

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that should hold you for a taste!

 

always outnumbered – never outgunned…

 

michaelingram@blackathlete.com

 

Copyright (c) 2016 Michael – Louis Ingram all rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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