Enjoy the rubber bass madness of this mid-’70s classic.
This week’s Funk Friday entry is courtesy of Rose Royce, an amazingly overlooked funk/soul outfit from the ’70s, probably most famous for their work on the Car Wash film soundtrack. Here’s one of their best tracks, “Yo Yo.”
Nigerian musician, and son of famed Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, Femi Kuti’s musical history is one worth knowing. Get started by watching the video for a remake of his father’s song “Water No Get Enemy.” Enjoy!
Does anything really need to be explained here?
Truth be told, I nearly shat my pants upon opening this LP. Eric Foss, whoever you are, God bless you, sir. You, along with your label mates, have compiled what has to be the greatest collection of soul, R&B and funk tracks ever assembled. And no, I don’t mean just the greatest collection of lost or rare tracks. Or just Midwestern tracks. The best soul, R&B and funk. Period.
What we’re treated to is a true labor of love, and make no mistake, you’re in for an incredible treat. Twin Cities Funk & Soul is four sides of velvety smooth audio gold, mixing unjustly forgotten musical gems that will no doubt serve as the soundtrack for Quentin Tarantino’s next blaxploitation film. “She’s A Whole Lot’s A Woman” by Mojo and his “Chi 4” is undeniably funkier and hotter than anything Motown was putting out during the same period. Other classics include “There Goes My Used To Be,” a melancholy track by Wee Willie Walker that out-Temptations the Temptations, even without the harmonies. And that’s only disc one!
Also included is a 32-page newspaper compiled by the label that includes biographical info on the artists, more tidbits on the scene itself and tons of rare photos from the time period. Even through the fidelity varies from track to track, it simply doesn’t matter. Taken for what it is, Twin Cities Funk & Soul belongs on every serious music fan’s turntable, and is what every re-issue from here on out should strive to be. Drag City, are you listening?
Speed: 33 RPM
Color: Purple Vinyl (limited edition only)
Extra Content: Bonus 45 included with limited edition, deluxe gatefold sleeve, 32-page newspaper with info on artists and rare photos
Remastered by Cory J. Wong
Produced by Eric Foss
Compiled by Will Gilbert, Eric Foss & Danny Sigelman
Newspaper design by Eric Foss
All The Locals
All The Locals
“Soul food for the funk-pop mind”
On their debut release, the Atlanta-based sextet harnesses gregarious gaits with smooth croons and grafts in fluid bass lines with juicy tom fills that’ll send flappers flying. Gospel rhythms team up with call and response vocals to generate a vivacious, highly danceable, yet endearing sound.
The blend of sincere lyrical content and lush musicianship has the band boasting an echo that captures the cool cadences of Michael McDonald meets Maps & Atlases. Such traits are particularly evident on the EP’s median track, “Shade of Blue,” with the chorus asking, “Can you feel as it walks all over you? / ’Cause when the sun comes up I’ll be a different shade of blue.”
The EP’s production chimes as crisp as a Caribbean sunset, with each cracking snare complementing even the softest whispered lyric.
Pulling from the major threads of funk and pop, the release also splices in shoots of rock and world music to create a dynamic blanket of soulful, feng shui jams.
Mixed and Mastered by John Briglevich
Recorded at Sonica Studios
One of the best hidden gems collections in the history of pop music, you’ve GOTTA check out this double-LP of Twin Cities funk and soul from the ’60s & ’70s.
More info and sound clips here – trust us, you’ll wanna order this one right away!
Happy Fun Friday, y’all. Enjoy this glorious day with the one and only Sly Stone. Can ya dig it?
Taking Sonic Cues From Nature, and Keeping a Large Ensemble Cohesive
Washington, D.C. jazz-fusion band The Funk Ark captivates listeners with their high energy and carefully crafted modern sound. Composer and pianist Will Rast talks with Performer about the musical inspiration he draws from his travels and breaks down the band’s creative process behind the recently released album, High Noon.
Less than a year has passed since the band’s last album. What’s different about the way you produced High Noon?
Our previous record, From The Rooftops, was done over the period of six months of studio sessions, editing, and mastering and all sorts of stuff. And we didn’t all play together at the same time. People would come in and record parts; there was a lot of sampling and looping – things like that – and it created a certain sound.
We’re happy with the record, but for this one we wanted to take it into a more live sounding setting. So we all just got together in a room after playing the songs for a month on the road. We landed in Austin and spent a few days there, just recording all together in Big Orange Studios – which is basically a cinder block bunker with some soundproofing and a nice booth. We did maybe two takes at the most with each song and that was the record.
On finding inspiration in nature: “I’m a big visualizer of sounds. To me, sounds often have colors and shapes, like a beat will have a certain shape in my head.”
Do you find inspiration for your music outside of music, like in nature or your surroundings?
Definitely. I’m a big visualizer of sounds. To me, sounds often have colors and shapes, like a beat will have a certain shape in my head. Especially when I’m traveling to different cities I’ve never been before, like when I was in Mexico City this past week, I’m seeing all sorts of new textures and shapes and it’s filing my head with sound. That’s what happens when I’m stimulated by new surroundings. So I’d definitely say that nature and locations have a big influence on my musical thinking.
Has there been a specific location that has sparked a song or an album?
I was 12 years old and I had entered the National Music Teachers Association Young Composers Contest, and I won and got to go to New Orleans and play the piece for a panel down there. When I was in New Orleans, I discovered jazz and Dixieland and also got a feel for the city. There’s definitely a mystical nature about a Southern port town. I think New Orleans in particular is a place that filled me up with inspiration and I wrote a song on my jazz solo record called “The Battle of New Orleans,” inspired by the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.
Let’s talk about The Funk Ark. The band is huge. How do you keep the electricity alive and carefully blended without it getting out of control?
You would think with that many people on a stage the sound would get cluttered. As with an orchestra, every instrument has its own small part. Not everybody is playing at the same time. I guess I would compare it to the gears of a clock. A beat that we play has a foundation and all sorts of moving parts that keep it moving along. Whether it’s somebody playing a cowbell to an Afro Cuban clave, or it’s a guitar part that’s kind of playing an African highlife-style guitar part. On their own, they’re relatively small, repetitive parts but when you put them all together they create a bigger patchwork sound that connects.
How do you and the rest of the band approach the way that you create music?
For the most part, I write the majority of the songs. I’ve got GarageBand on my Mac and it’s pretty low tech as far as industry standards are concerned, but it works pretty great for me to get ideas down. I’ll come up with a bass line or a guitar part and I’ll construct a demo and then bring it to the band – then we’ll learn the parts in rehearsal. It can take as little as 20 minutes to get down and we have a new song that everybody can play.
On playing with a large ensemble: “I guess I would compare it to the gears of a clock. A beat that we play has a foundation and all sorts of moving parts that keep it moving along.”
Is there a lot of evolution in your songs; do you change things up as a tour progresses?
Yeah – the initial demos are pretty complete, but in trying to flesh them out and give them personality to make them into an actual song, there are changes that happen. When we are working on the songs as a group, everybody is usually full of ideas and cool things to add to it. It’s definitely a group effort.
Do you think your love for funk and jazz makes you a better performer of this style of music, or more critical of it?
It can certainly make me more critical of my own performance and my band’s performance. But I also think that is what makes us better at playing that particular style. Just like jazz, if you’re not dedicated to the kind idiom and the lexicons that jazz calls from, it’s not going to sound like jazz. And then, by that same principle, if you’re trying to play soul, funk, R&B, Afrobeat – if you don’t dedicate yourself to the way that it’s supposed to be played, you’re not going to get that desired result. So I think my respect and appreciation for those kinds of music, all kind of squished together, is what makes the Funk Ark.
Are you afraid that you’ll eventually get burnt out playing what you love listening to?
[Pauses] I don’t know. I think that my tastes change as I grow. I’m not sure that ten years ago I would have been able to predict that I’d be doing the kind of stuff that I’m doing now. So it’s hard to say where my interests are going to lie in another ten years. But what I do know is that my writing style shifts as I move on to different styles and get interested in different things. So I don’t think that I’ll get tired of doing it because I’m going to continually try to reach whatever new plateau I’m going after.
Photos by Alba Seoane
The world lost Chuck Brown this week, so we are dedicating Funk Friday to his memory.