The story behind Songhoy Blues isn’t particularly heartwarming. They were formed because they are exiles from the north of Mali, where a jihadist group took over in 2012 and banned music.
The name is from “Songhoy” – their ethnic group, and “desert blues”, the type of music they play.
“Bamako” is a full on funk song. The band were inspired by 60s Western guitar music themselves, owing a large debt to psychedelic rock. Nonetheless, layered funky guitars and horns have a particularly African rhythm to them.
The track does feel very modern, it’s true. This isn’t 70s afrobeat; this is new funk from Mali. The drums have some pace to them, cementing the song’s energy at a high level, but it’s the guitars which really get things moving.
The track was released in 2017, and is from the album Resistance.
As far as I can tell, the only difference between this and the “Hide & Smile” edit is that the latter is a bit more punchy, and perhaps better arranged.
But I do like the charm of the original. It loses very little dancefloor zestiness. The same key elements are there: the fidgety bassline, slick drum pattern – with cacophonous bongos – and of course, the wonderfully harmonious guitar licks.
The vocals are joyous and calm, yet still glide out in a way almost reminscent of Jamaican dancehall toasting.
The song combines traditional elements with modern synths. Not only that, but it does it very well, so that there is not even the slightest trace of cheesiness!
The song originally came out in 1983, on an E.P. called International Soleil Band. It seems to be the only release the band did. But as with all cool African records, Soundway Records re-issued it in 2016…
A lot of amazing musical styles have emanated from South Africa, but I’m inclined to think that the electronic genres are the best, and usually the most unique.
But even mainstream funk/disco can benefit from the diverse touch of South African music!
“Gorilla Man” is so funky it seems set to explode. I have no idea what the song is about; neither am I particularly worried about that. It is, as far as I’m concerned, a masterpiece.
The track is driven along by a smorgasbord of synths, from the delicious bassline to the captivating hook. The melody is actually ripped off from the fantastic Italo-Disco hit “Dance For Denise”, which was released the year before around Europe.
But this version has more of the South African Bubblegum vibe, and is accordingly much cooler!
The track was released in 1986, on an eponymous E.P.
George Clinton is known for good times funk, but this surely one of the most feel good tunes ever recorded.
It’s worth noting that although there’s nothing really wrong with the vocal version, this is just better. The instruments are so brilliant, especially the guitar, that they deserve more space to shine.
It’s a real party tune, using a stadium filling snare to pin the beat down. The bassline is a shimmying, saucy synth. But it really is the guitar which adds that special touch.
The song is also divided into about 4 sections, which loop round each other flawlessly. My favourite is the hands in the air bit at the start, but it helps to have some more chill sections because it provides a bit of contrast and keeps the song interesting.
The instrumental version of the tune came out in 1983, as a B-Side to “Dog Talk” by K-9 Corp – most likely another George Clinton moniker of some sort. It’s hard to tell because it appears exclusively in connection with “Dog Talk”.
Slave make good times music, with some serious boogie potential.
“Just A Touch Of Love” is the title track of the band’s 1979 album, which was their 4th. It got to number 9 on the U.S. R’n’B singles chart, but it’s undoubtedly an enduring classic.
Their sound on this one is a very smooth and silky sound, rather than the more hard edged sound they were known for previously.
As with most famous funk songs, it’s the twanging bassline which leads proceedings and gives the song a distinctive touch. The guitar and rhodes piano provide light embellishments, creating a beautiful groove.
The basic groove lasts for most of the song, although it does change at points to slightly busier arrangements.
The main vocals are nice enough, but it’s the backing vocals which stick in your head and give the song a dreamier character, as well as being incredibly easy on the ear…
Game, Dames and Guitar Thangs was released in 1977, the only one of Eddie Hazel’s solo albums to be released while he was alive. Until its re-release in the 21st century, it was very rare and something of a holy grail for collectors.
As Eddie Hazel was Parliament’s lead guitarist, you can be sure that the godfather of P-Funk, George Clinton, would make an appearance or two. On this particular song, George Clinton is a co-writer with Bootsy Collins and Bernie Worrell.
The song is very much within the realms of P-Funk, but has a certain ordered chaos reminiscent of Free Jazz. There’s certainly some more serene moments full of catchy melodies and relatively simple rhythms, but also moments of spaced out craziness.
The lyrics are slow and trippy, but are secondary to the exquisite guitar playing. At the song’s most anthemic part, from about 22 seconds and 2 minutes 22 seconds, the guitar really soars!
It surprising that the song hasn’t been sampled more, but as it stands over 6 Hip Hop artists have sampled various parts of the song…
This song has such an infectious bounce that it almost seems like it could just go on forever. It doesn’t though; the track lasts about 5 minutes in the most common form, although the album version stretches it to 10.
The guitar lick is one of the primary culprits for the criminal amounts of grooviness, as well as the slapping drum beat.
Some other key suspects are Fred Wesley’s trombone and James Brown’s off kilter lyrics…
Fred Wesley & The J.B.s is an odd choice to credit the song to. Not along did James Brown write it, he also provides the vocals. The song is basically a studio jam over the core bass, drum and guitar groove, and Brown just tells the musicians what he wants.
The vocals are a mixture of chatting and chanting, and are sure to please any decent crowd. At one point, he even instructs the band to play their instruments in a lower key, which they duly do!
The song was released in 1973, and was number one on the soul chart in the U.S.A.
This is such a joyful song. The lyrics are more about chastising his family (a stand in for society at large) for their transgressions, with a big verse at the end about the essential unity of the human race and our combined struggle.
The actual music is just phenomenal. The bassline is an ecstatic leaping pacesetter, echoed by rich strings and a funky guitar. The vocals are sung with such soul, and are married to the underlying melody wonderfully.
The guitar solo is very pleasant to listen to as well, stepping skilfully amongst the bass and drums with just a hint of organ in the background…
Tim Maia is a Brazilian artist noted for mixing Samba styles with Funk and Soul, and also MPB, a Samba influenced fusion style popular in Brazil.
“Brother Father Sister Mother” was released in 1976 on the album Tim Maia.Strangely, he has a lot of albums named after himself, but this was also on World Psychedelic Classics 4, a compilation released in 2012.