Music Reviews

Bootsy’s Rubber Band – “Bootsy? Player of The Year” – [Warner Bros.]

honeybear   5/29/2013   12-inch, Soul

IT’S TIME TO GET FUNKED UP! And Bootsy Collins is gonna bring it to you on the low end, for those who know funk know Bootsy. Even if you don’t know the man’s name you know his bass lines. The pioneer funk bassist presents his third album with his group The Rubber Band on this overlooked funk album from ’78. Think bright horns mixed with funked out bass, tinny guitar and backbone drums. Everyone should know who the player of the year is after getting funked up by this jem.

Wells, Mary – “One Who Really Loves You/Two Lovers, The” – [Ace Records]

Naysayer   5/22/2013   CD, Soul

Mary Wells, Motown’s first big superstar, continued her rise to fame with these two albums, her second and third. It’s Motown, so listeners know what to expect, especially with the classic hits. The strong backup singers, the strolling wap wap rhythm that ties the pieces together, the lyrics about lost and mixed up love: it’s all here. But Mary’s voice, just a bit lower than the typical Motown singer, a bit raspy, sounding like she sometimes may not hit the note, add a different angle to the songs. Her inflection, her tone give these stories a maturity and an edge that one would not expect from a twenty something, which was how old she was when she recorded them. She has insight into the pain of being the one not picked, of wondering why she was left alone, of suffering the lack of interest of the one that is loved. Maybe that I am older these songs hit a different cord. These are beautiful, painful treasures, filled with much more sorrow than one might expect.

New Birth, The – “Ain’t No Big Thing/Comin’ Together” – [SuperBird]

humana   4/27/2013   CD, Soul

The liner notes explain how The New Birth formed as an ensemble with enough team spirit to release the two albums included on this CD, yet was comprised of individuals who pursued separate musical projects at the same time. CD1 has covers galore (check out the soul version of “Fire & Rain”), and was recorded in 1971. CD2 (recorded in 1972) features the addition of vocalists Peace, Love, and Happiness, who add a distinct flavor to the music. Soul enthusiasts will enjoy this blast from the past. Fine Motown sound on here.

CSC Funk Band – “Funkincense” – [Electric Cowbell]

Thurston Hunger   4/13/2013   CD, Soul

Tight, clean all-instro funk on the latest flight from
Colin Langenus and the CSC Funk Band. Keys and horns
spark it up, the guitar weaves in and out with the
wacka-wacka and the drums keep it all locked down.
A funk‘s secret weapon : the flute darts in and out
on a few tracks. On some tracks, the percussion and
horn/synth combo join up to bang out a secret handshake
on the break. As this is on Electric Cowbell, nice to
hear a regular cowbell twonking away on the title cut.
That also features a magic carpet solo that could connect
to Omar Souleyman. The closer, “Versace Nachos” has a
wind-whipping synth woosh and the most emphatic bassline
on the album. “Choom Gang” starts with a Fox News/Obama
potline shout-out then teases with the possiblity of a
beatboxing before unraveling more New York stately funk.
Definitely a melting melange of flavors, and true-to-your
Angel Flight jeans of yesteryear. If anything, I could
use a little more nasty in the mix. Maybe if the sax
had a drinking problem, of the flute player slept with
the drummer’s partner? “You Say” delivers a bit of a
karate chop, that hurt good. “Klip Winger” has a nice
hesitation drop, and the flute and sax get right on it.
“Make Your Mind Up” echoes reggae with the horn charts.
Funk me, just play it and dig it.

-Thurston Hunger

Bradley, Charles – “Victim of Love” – [Daptone Records]

incognito   3/6/2013   CD, Soul

This is actually a promo copy of what I believe will be Bradley’s 2013 release titled “Strictly Reserved For You.” Very 60s/70s influenced soul, very much in tune with the revivalist aesthetic of the Daptone Records label. Chances are, if a track title has the word “love” in the title, it sounds very motown, a predominant style and theme of the album, with lyrics mostly about romantic love and heartbreak. There are a few meaner licks spicing things up, like “Hurricane” and “Confusion.” Really classic sounding soul, fresh for 2013.

The James Hunter Six- Minute by Minute

cadilliac margarita   2/28/2013   A Library, CD, Soul

James Hunter out of the UK has written and provides warm and gritty vocals for all songs on this album out on GO/ Fantasy Records. After touring for 20 years with the likes of Van Morrison (for whom he was a backup singer) Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, and the late Etta James, Hunter is back with his 5 piece band (now giving them name credit after many years of touring as his dedicated backup band). Channeling his pain from the 2011 loss of his wife Jacqueline to cancer, he has dedicated this great album of throwback classic R&B to her. For someone who has undergone such a huge loss, this is surprisingly upbeat with guitar, sax, drums, organ, bass, piano, vibraphone, percussion, and was produced by Gabriel Roth, co-founder of Daptone Records. They will be at Bimbos 365 on March 9th.

Just a Little Bit of The Jumpin’ Bean [coll] – [Vampi Soul]

abacus   2/27/2013   CD, Soul

I challenge you to play this and not dance just a little bit… A collection of underrepresented soul and R&B tracks compiled by WFMU DJ Mr Fine Wine meant to get your groove goin and entice a party. All pulled out of the King/Federal archives, with tracks from 1955-1964, we got some familiar faces like Hank Ballard and Freddy King but a lot of lesser known cats as well, like one gem by a certain Tiny Topsy. All utterly scrumptious, from the spicy Latin instrumental opener led by drummer Cozy Cole to the whistle-response sing-along and Doo-Whomp snap-bass boogie of Mel Williams and Eugene Church; gettin dirty at the Swingset with Bill Doggett, then chick-boom-a-clackin with the percussive layering from Little Willie John, and of course some gut-wrenching harmonies and rhythmic roundabouts a la Tiny Topsy. These tracks will make you wanna grab your woman, sway your hips and throw your hands in the air. Twist, shake and boogie!

CSC FUNK BAND- A Little Weight

cadilliac margarita   9/26/2012   A Library, CD, Soul

Making beautiful music together since 2007, this Brooklyn noise punk musician super-group turned funk collective formed during a jam session of Sun Ras Lanquidity. Their blend of funky baselines, clarinet, horns, rock guitar, and steady drumbeats is classic and modern at the same time. I favor side Bs A Little Planet because of its punchy intro, snake charming clarinet solo, and mellow funkiness. However, both tracks are more than worthy.


Jimmy Soul – “Best of Jimmy Soul, The” – [Rhino Records]

Cousin Mary   8/28/2012   CD, Soul

Jimmy Soul’s big hit was track 1. Here is some more old school soul from the early 1960’s with rockin’ tunes featuring yakety sax, backup singers, and falsetto. Funny lyrics and a Shakespeare quote in track 12 made me smile. Liner notes are mostly about the producer, Frank Guida, who learned to love calypso while stationed in the West Indies in WW2. Jimmy Soul was a stage name for James McCleese who was also a preacher and gospel singer.

Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band – “Very Best Of, The” – [Rca Records]

humana   7/13/2012   CD, Soul

This compilation disc is like the soundtrack to a tropical escape film–I challenge you to sample it and remain still and dour. The calypso rhythms will get you moving and the quirky lyrics will put a smile on your face. There’s a big band sound (20-piece horn and string arrangements) as well as an infusion of Afro-Cuban and Latin percussion, tied together amazingly smoothly by the captivating voice of Miss Cory Daye. Find here the famed “Cherchez La Femme/Se Si Bon” (6) and “I’ll Play the Fool” (1). Revel in the vibes of “Sugar Coated” Andy Hernandez (8). Only the most curmudgeonly will be able to resist this upbeat offering. Throw away those anti-depressants and soak up the “Sunshower” (3) and smile!

Rene, Wendy – “After Laughter Comes Tears: 1964-65” – [Light in the Attic]

mickeyslim   2/21/2012   12-inch, Soul

From her first song, the?? first note, through both LPs, this girl has some fucking soul. Wendy Rene, born Mary Frierson in Memphis, corralled her siblings and formed the vocal group the Drapels, who got immediately signed to Stax’s subsidiary label, Vox. Mary got signed the same day when she showed Stax cofounder Jim Stewart songs she had written. She recorded her songs with her brother Johhny, Booker T and the MGs and Otis Redding (who coined her stage name, Wendy Rene).

After three singles of her own music, two with the Drapels, and being included on a roster for a French Stax compilation, she retired to take care of her growing family. Made some royalties when WuTang Clan sampled After Laughter. She returned to do one more show in New Orleans in 2010. She currently sings in her local church choir.

Rene has such as strong?? voice, and the power in her voice in the first couple tracks really get you moving. This is all of her recordings, including all the songs recorded with the Drapels. Brilliant liner notes, amazing release. I can tell this is going to be a KFJC favorite, so hit it up before it becomes uncool…

PGM: all songs just fade out slowly

Grupo Oz – “Miss Thing” – [Secret Stash]

Grizzly Adam   2/1/2012   12-inch, Soul

Is this half spy thriller soundtrack and half psychedelic sly and family stone disco funk? For it’s time and day this stuff is on the cuff of bleeding edge advancements achievements of music and accord with these movements in music. All originals for a one-off session in English from the Mexican Grupo Oz. I say it’s soul funk for the density of the arrangements. A1 A2 have vocals. A3 instrumental, a groove is found and they sink deep into it with solos and sustained horn work. A4 is interesting because of it’s romantic style is not far from some other groups at the time such as Camilo Sesto. I see this release as smart musicians
trying to stay out of poverty by applying themselves to a foreign style for a foreign audience to do good business, an idea that makes sense given the fledging Mexican economy, this diversifies exports. B1 instrumental. B2 vocals. B3 reminds me of the theme chosen for the movie Swingers when the whole gang drives their own cars to the club. B4 has an ebb and flow to it, and something like a tunnel rush feel. B5 is the longest track. It starts out like a British concerto for a symphony. It sounds like an Issac Hayes tune.
-Eveningly Infinitely Wipes Scrub Sonny Atoms Grizzly Adam

Eccentric Soul: The Nickel & Penny Labels [coll] – [Numero Group]

Cousin Mary   11/14/2011   CD, Soul

This edition of Eccentric Soul features radio personality Richard Pegue who wrote, arranged and produced Chicago soul records in the 60s and 70s on the Nickel and Penny labels. As with most of these collections, some tracks are deservedly obscure, some are gems. My favorite is track 19, what’s yours?

Boddie Recording Company: Cleveland, Ohio [coll] – [Numero Group]

Grizzly Adam   11/6/2011   CD, Soul

Cleveland Ohios Boddie Live Recording Material is Being Released as a Box Set by the Numero Group of Eccentric Soul Fame, and this is a promotional sampler. Womens Choruses, mostly Male Leads. 3 Minute Tune Average. Blues Funk-Soul #1. Urban Soul-Pop with French-Library Music-Soul-Bass #2. Sounds for amusement parks everywhere #3. Slow Blues Reggae-Soul #4. Cocaine and other vices, also a female lead #5. Youll recognize #6 which also has nice recording acoustics. Drive-In teen pop (ala Grease) #7. #8 Instrumental like the Sun Ra and Batman album. #9 Dual guitar Library Music-Psych-Soul. #11 Talk back and forth. #13 Clap along. #14 Jump Blues. #15 Lou Ann Bartons Stop These Teardrops. #16 Oldies. Lastly #17, a Metroid theme.
-eveningly infinitely wipes scrub sonny atoms grizzly adam

Southern Funkin’ – Louisianna Funk and Soul 1967 – 1979 [coll] – [BGP Records Ltd.]

Cousin Mary   8/21/2011   12-inch, Soul

This 2-LP set contains 45’s recorded by Louisiana funk and soul artists from 1967-1979. Most sound like they have been strongly influenced by popular artists of the time, many of them by James Brown. A bit of Creole influence from Louisiana can be heard, but is not that strong. The vocals and instrumentals and recording quality are pretty good. Funky beats to make you start dancing.


PGM: side 1/track 3 and side 4/track 2 are all instrumental. My picks: Side 1/track 5, Side 2/track 4, Side 3/track 5, and side 4/track 5.

Sir Guy – “I Need You Baby/Let Home Cross Your Mind” – [Jazzman]

Cousin Mary   8/18/2011   7-inch, Soul

Virginia soul singer Sir Guy released side B “Let Home Cross Your Mind” in 1972, then re-did it as “I Need You Baby” which is side A. Side A has back-up singers, Side B has a longer instrumental introduction. Not the best recording quality, but fine funky soul on this UK re-issue.

Clarence “Sir Guy” Barron died on June 15, 2010.

Scott-Heron, Gil and Jamie XX – “We’re New Here” – [XL Recordings]

Cousin Mary   3/15/2011   CD, Soul

“I’m New Here” was Gil Scott-Heron’s first album in 13 years. Jamie XX remixed the vocals from those original sessions, added other recordings and produced this album “We’re New Here”. Scott-Heron’s voice and poetry come through very strong but oddly enough the dance-y music works as well. Fun beats with profound messages.

School Me! Volume One 1968-1975 [coll] – [Stage Band Research]

Cousin Mary   1/14/2011   12-inch, Soul

The subtitle “High School and Collegiate Jazz, Funk, Soul and Psychedelia” sums it up, although to my ear the strongest leaning is toward funk. Not sure who is involved, but they obviously have been scavenging for recordings of high school bands from this period of time and have pulled out some gems. While some tracks have that obvious high school big ensemble sound, quite a few are stand outs including a stunning vocal on Side Four Track 1 for Compared to What and some nice guitar on Side Four Track 2.

Intro (Side One Track 1) and Outro (Side Four Track 4) put us back in the right setting with the teacher’s shouted directions in the noisy high school gym.

Bradley, Charles – “No Time For Dreaming” – [Daptone Records]

cadilliac margarita   1/14/2011   CD, Soul

Put out on Dunham Records, in association with Daptone, Charles Bradley releases his first full length album here back by the Menahan Street Band. he brings his years of streetwise experience as a dayworker from places all over the US from Alaska to Maine. It is life, love, and heartbreak with a weathered and gritty voice that shows a life of performing and paying his dues has finally paid off. Awesome, super soulful, and definitely worth a listen!

California Funk: Rare Funk 45s From The Golden State [coll] – [Jazzman]

aarbor   1/5/2011   CD, Soul

KFJC owns others in this series: Midwest Funk, Texas Funk, Carolina Funk, and this one is as good or better than the others. The compilers Malcolm Catto and Gerald ???Jazzman??? Short examine what happened to the independent ensembles who gigged during Sly and the Family Stone???s Bay-area renaissance. It tells the stories of musicians who worked alongside LA???s Charles Wright and the Watt???s 103rd Street Rhythm Bands. Along with pictures and stories about the artists you???ve got thunderous drums, fuzzy wah-wah, fat basslines, blistering horns and exhortations akin to James Brown and his many disciples. No filler here all tracks are worthy! AArbor

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