Up next in my Quest Called Dig is a record store just south of Milwaukee on Ashland, Dusty Groove. I started out in the soul/funk section and took home six records. I listened. I ate dinner. I slept, and when I woke up I realized I was still funked up!
Kool And The Gang- Live At The Sex Machine
Great album!!! I haven’t heard much of the older, earlier Kool and the Gang. I like it waaaaaaaay more than the poppier 80’s version of the band. For those of you who may only be familiar with their later, more popular work, Kool and The Gang has it’s roots in jazz and funk more than r&b. They are rather talented. This album captures their energy as well as that talent.
Tribe used a sample from “Who’s Gonna Take The Weight Parts 1 and 2” and used it in “Oh My God.” I’m not sure exactly how the parts are broken down but early in the song we learn that “one day we will be judged for creating all this corruption and debt and pollution and all these difficult situations on earth and he’s gonna want to know who’s gonna take the weight” (cue funky guitar). Later the music kind of fades and bam- they kick in with the tribe sample and your head is nodding and your smiling :).
This album (and this song in particular) is heavily sampled in hip hop- especially in the old school. Pete Rock, Public Enemy, Stetasonic, Heavy D, and more have all used this track.
James Brown- Sho Is Funky Down Here
Sho is god father!!! This is an instrumental James Brown album where James Brown is directing the band (and playing piano I think). This album was not very critically acclaimed and not very James Brown-ish. It’s pretty funky tho. The guitars are pretty heavy giving it a kind of psychedelic rock essence.
Bill Cosby- Bill Cosby Presents Badfoot Brown
This is totally not what I thought it wa going to be. There’s no talking or straight up comedy. It’s just music. “Bunions” is a funny name for a song, and the lyrics to “The Blues” are definitely in jest. “Abuse” offers advice to give to your pusher: “I don’t need no bad drugs,” but this seems sound. So if you were buying this album thinking it would make you laugh you are probably going to be disappointed- although the album cover is kinda funny and it is definitely a “fun” listen.
“Martin’s Funeral” was used in “We Can Get Down.” This is one of my favorite Tribe tracks. You would think a sample from a Bill Cosby record would be that of some funny lyrics or a “background noise,” but that is not the case. The sample is the main hook in the song. One other group used a sample from this song- the only other sample from the record.
The Fatback Band- Keep On Steppin
“Ladies and gentlemen, one of the funkiest bands on the east coast!” Love it! This is pretty funky. The album has a nice flow to it, from one song to the next. There is a constant background chatter instead of vocals for most of the album that is pretty entertaining. All around this a really solid album: Funky beats, good horn lines, funky guitars, and groovin bass lines. I’m not sure why they achieve more popular success. Some reviews I read claimed this was their least successful album. I find that hard to believe, but if that is the case I am grabbing up anything else that I see from them on sight!! Seriously, my neck hurts.
The New Birth- It’s Been A Long Time
This album is famous for the Skylark’s cover of “Wild Flower”, which a pretty dramatic version of the song. Overall I think the album is pretty good, but not great. It’s a pleasant listening experience but doesn’t really stand out to me. The group was formed by some veterans in the motown community. Their style, on this album at least, sounds to me like a fusion of a decent pop motown vocal group and a decent funk band. The gospel inspired vocalists have their moments against some goovin bass lines, but it still doesn’t jump up and grab me like a lot of the funk I’ve been listening to recently. One exception is “Pains of Love” where in my opinion these elements come together in a major way!
The album cover stands out. I don’t mean any disrespect but check out that hot chick on the cover!
Tribe sampled a popular breakbeat in “Keep On Doin It” used in “Rap Promoter.” This is a pretty classic break used by Ice Cube, Big Daddy Kane, Black Sheep, Souls Of Mischief, and a few others. The album is fairly heavily sampled by the likes of Big KRIT, Fat Joe, Ludacris, AZ, and more.
Heatwave- Central Heating
This is a disco-y funk. My opinion of the album is similar to the The New Birth album. It’s a nice listening experience, but it doesn’t really stand out. It has it’s moments- “Star of the Story” really stands out on this album (it’s the star of the album). It gets stuck in my head like crazy for real. Overall, I feel that is a little better than mediocre compared with the funk I’ve been listening to recently. That being said, if the The New Birth album is a 2.7/5 this one is a notch higher at 2.9. Maybe I’m getting spoiled.
“Star Of The Story” is used in “Verses From The Abstract.” A few others have sampled from this song including 9th Wonder, Slum Village, and the Pharcyde. The album is fairly heavily sampled. Artists of note are Public Enemy, Pete Rock, and Guilty Simpson inaddtion to those already mentioned.