HARD... RAW... DEEP... FUNK: May 2012

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Maceo Parker - Roots And Grooves (2007)

"Say the name Maceo Parker, and immediately the legendary R&B saxman's longterm association with the late, great James Brown comes to mind. Depending on how steeped one is in R&B, Parker's later work with George Clinton and Bootsy Collins might pop up. But long before the Godfather of Soul entered the saxman's life, Parker was grooving heavily on Ray Charles, who became one of the influential musical heroes of his life. The first disc of Roots and Grooves gloriously celebrates Parker's connection to these roots, his early years in North Carolina listening to early Charles tracks on the radio. The second is something of a wildly jazzy, impossibly funky jam retrospective on his best solo tracks. The hook that makes this more than simply a high energy covers date is that it teams the brilliant altoist with Germany's renowned WDR Big Band -- and from the first swinging blasts behind Parker's horn on "Hallelujah I Love Her So," "big" is the operative word. Given Parker's sense of groove invention and the evergreen emotional power of Charles' chestnuts like "Busted" and "Hit the Road Jack," anyone might have expected this to be a dream match. But it's more than that because Parker also sings with a gravelly, Charles-like perfection on these two songs, and even more poignantly on "You Don't Know Me," "Margie," and a magically moody "Georgia on My Mind." Charles may have been declared deceased in body in 2004, but he lives again through Parker in haunting yet wonderful ways. On "Getting Back to Funk" (the title of the second disc), Parker revisits his own rich catalog of classics, starting with "Uptown Up" and vibing right on through to a nearly 18-minute scorching take on "Pass the Peas." Released in early 2008, this double set was an instant classic. Charles was not the only genius who loved company --Parker, too, has a blast working with one of the hippest big bands in the world."



1. Maceo parker - hallelujah i love her so (6:38)
2. Maceo parker - busted (3:53)
3. Maceo parker - them that's got (6:12)
4. Maceo parker - you don't know me (6:24)
5. Maceo parker - hit the road jack (5:09)
6. Maceo parker - margie (6:01)
7. Maceo parker - georgia on my mind (6:17)
8. Maceo parker - what'd i say (9:36)
9. Maceo parker - uptown up (5:57)
10. Maceo parker - to be or not to be (6:22)
11. Maceo parker - off the hook (8:02)
12. Maceo parker - advanced funk (7:10)
13. Maceo parker - shake everything you got (7:07)
14. Maceo parker - pass the peas (17:48)

Maceo Parker - pass the peas

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Jimmy McGriff - Electric Funk (1969)

"The title of Electric Funk may lead you to believe that it's a set of unrepentant, rampaging hard funk, but that's not quite the case. The record is laid-back but undeniably funky, with Jimmy McGriff and electric pianist Horace Ott leading an unnamed group through a set of soul workouts. It's not jazz, it's jazzy soul, and it's among the funkiest of any soul-jazz records from the late '60s, filled with stuttering drum breaks, lite fuzz guitars, elastic bass, smoldering organ, and punchy, slightly incongruous horn charts."



1. Jimmy Mcgriff - Back On The Track (3:17)
 2. Jimmy Mcgriff - Chris Cross (3:45)
 3. Jimmy Mcgriff - Miss Poopie (3:17)
 4. Jimmy Mcgriff - The Bird Wave (4:01)
 5. Jimmy Mcgriff - Spear For Moondog, Part 1 (3:28)
 6. Jimmy Mcgriff - Spear For Moondog, Part 2 (3:03)
 7. Jimmy Mcgriff - Tight Times (3:57)
 8. Jimmy Mcgriff - Spinning Wheel (3:34)
 9. Jimmy Mcgriff - Funky Junk (3:44)

Jimmy Mcgriff - Funky Junk

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lee Dorsey - Yes We Can (1970)

"For all but the most dedicated record collector, Lee Dorsey's terrific singles for Amy -- including the hits "Workin' in a Coalmine" and "Ride Your Pony" -- are all anybody knows about Lee Dorsey's collaboration with Allen Toussaint. Those were the recordings that were the hits, those were the recordings that were played on oldies radio, and those were the recordings that were reissued on CD, while the two albums Dorsey and Toussaint made in the '70s seemed lost, never reissued and rarely mentioned in either's discography or biography. That's not to say that the first of their '70s efforts, 1970's Yes We Can, didn't have an impact. Several of the cuts were covered by major artists throughout the decade -- the Pointer Sisters had a hit with the title track, Robert Palmer covered "Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley" for the title track of his 1974 debut, Ringo Starr cut "Occapella," and the Meters' loose-limbed, eclectic groove set the pace for a lot of rock and funk for the '70s (most notably Little Feat, who did a faithful cover of Dorsey's 1971 non-LP single "On Your Way Down"). So while it was possible to hear the reverberations of this album, it was impossible to easily hear this music until it finally saw the light of day on Raven's 2005 two-fer Yes We Can/Night People (which also included "On Your Way Down" and another non-LP single, "When Can I Come Home?," as bonus tracks).

Musically, Yes We Can is closer to Toussaint's solo LPs for Warner -- collected on Rhino Handmade's excellent 2003 two-disc set The Complete Warner Recordings -- than Dorsey's '60s sides, but it's the best overall album Dorsey ever made and one of the greatest soul albums of the '70s. Here, Dorsey, Toussaint, and the estimable supporting band of the Meters are at an absolute peak. Song for song, this is Toussaint's strongest writing and it's given lively, imaginative interpretations from the Meters. Hardly just a routine collection of New Orleans funk, Yes We Can dips into rampaging Stax-Volt soul on "When the Bill's Paid," diamond-hard funk on "Gator Tail," stylish updates of Dorsey's Amy sound on "O Me-O, My-O" and "Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley," smoky nighttime grooves on "Riverboat," and utterly modern protest soul on "Who's Gonna Help Brother Get Further?" while ending on the hilarious standup comedy riff of "Would You?" Not only is there a great variety of styles, sounds, and moods here, but Dorsey, Toussaint, and the Meters all make it sound easy, when it really was the most sophisticated funk and soul of its time. Maybe that sly sophistication is why the album sank commercially in 1970, maybe it's because the music was at once too earthy and elegant to compete with the sound of either Hi or Philadelphia International, maybe it just didn't get the right promotion, but the years have been nothing but kind to Yes We Can, which stands as one of the great soul albums."



1. Lee Dorsey - yes we can - part 1 (3:24)
2. Lee Dorsey - riverboat (2:29)
3. Lee Dorsey - tear, tears and more tears (3:11)
4. Lee Dorsey - o me-o, my-o (2:37)
5. Lee Dorsey - sneakin' salley through the alley (2:44)
6. Lee Dorsey - yes we can - part 2 (3:23)
7. Lee Dorsey - who's gonna help brother get further (3:00)
8. Lee Dorsey - games people play (3:16)
9. Lee Dorsey - when the bills paid (2:23)
10. Lee Dorsey - occapella (2:34)
11. Lee Dorsey - gator tail (2:56)
12. Lee Dorsey - would you (3:40)

Lee Dorsey - yes we can - part 1