18/01/2021: “Be By My Side” by Dom Salvador

A lot of people hold that music from the 60s was the best. And Brazil is generally considered to punch well above its already considerable weight musically.

So there’s no surprise that this energetic number from ’60s Brazil is so heavily laden with funkiness that it seems fit to burst!

The Bossa Nova background to Dom Salvador’s inspired piano playing is clear, as he sprints up and down the octaves and drags the drummer, bassist and horns player with him.

It fits somewhere between Bossa Nova and Funk – a great example of MPB, or ‘Música popular brasileira’ (Popular Music of Brazil).

The track was released on Dom Salvador in 1969, and reissued in 2016.

16/01/2021: “You Can’t Turn Me Away” by Sylvia Striplin

Funky souly goodness from start to finish. You can’t help but love this, I feel!

Her voice is stunning, of course. But that groove is brilliant. The squelchy yet tight bass struts confidently over a solid drum beat. You’ve got a smattering of guitars and a couple of old school synths to complete the package too!

Roy Ayers, who Sylvia had worked with extensively in the 70s, helped to write the song. It’s become her most famous, especially after being sampled in a Notorious B.I.G song (“Get Money”, 1995), and used in a Grand Theft Auto video game.

The song was released in 1981, on Roy Ayers’ record label, “Uno Melodic”.

11/01/2021: “Wizard Of Finance” by Parliament

This is a cute song. The lyrics say that if the singer was a rich man, he’d blow it all on buying flowers for the woman and ‘invest my life in you’.

That’s an adorable sentiment. And, because this is a Parliament song, there’s obscene quantities of funkiness to back it up!

The squelchy bassline is a stunner, and the trademark P-Funk squeals give it that Parliament flavour. There’s a lot of saxophone work on the track too, adding to the romantic vibe.

The song came out in 1977 on Funkentelechy vs The Placebo Syndrome.

09/01/2020: “Me And My Woman” by Shuggie Otis

“Me And My Woman” is the only song on 1971’s Freedom Flight not credited to Shuggie Otis. It was written instead by Gene Barge, a sax player.

The song is driven funky monster, with a boogieing keyboard bassline and hyperactive guitar. It’s about an up and down relationship, full of highs and lows.

The song is elegant and smartly performed, defying easy pigeonholing. Is it funky blues, or bluesy funk?

The maddest thing is that, apart from playing a wide selection of instruments throughout the album, Otis was 15 when it was released!

22/12/2020: “Wild Dog” by Stanley Clarke and George Duke

A collaboration between Stanley Clarke and George Duke was always going be obscenely funky. With Clarke on guitar and Duke on keys, this track blisters with intense groovy heat.

The guitar riffing is just captivating – who needs vocals when you can make an instrument sing like this?!

“Wild Dog” was released in 1981 on The Clarke/Duke Project, a nifty piece of work which, in fairness, contains plenty of great vocal tracks too!

13/10/2020: “Samba” by Les Amazones de Guinee

Anyone who’s been going to the cinema in the last 5 years might be familiar with the Amazons as the tribe of fierce warrior women in Greek mythology. Or, you might know that through your extensive classical education and what not. In any case, the Amazons are a byword for bad ass women.

Have a listen to this banger, originally released on Au Coeur De Paris in 1983, and tell me that this all female ensemble of Guinean ex-servicewomen doesn’t absolutely smash it!

The pulsing percussion comes in a torrent, exuberant horns riding the wave, with the classic afrobeat guitar lick steadily rolling. And those vocals; the power!

You can feel the energy of the crowd, since the recording was done live. The appreciation of the deft guitar solo and bold horns rings out – and why not? This is simply flawless from start to finish.

09/10/2020: “Let’s Get Serious” by Jermaine Jackson

“Let’s Get Serious” was released as title track of Jackson’s 1980 album, and was number 2 on the US R’n’B chart.

It’s got a classic level of funk bounce to it, light enough for mass consumption but funky enough to raise spirits.

It’s a shame, in a way, that the other Jackson brothers are so overshadowed by Michael Jackson, because they might not be in his league – but they’re talented musicians.

12/09/2020: “Love Rollercoaster” by Ohio Players

Having posted a disco hit from 1975 yesterday, it seems only fair to include another. This is technically funk, but it makes me want to wear some flares and strut my stuff – not that I could ever pull that off!

I’m not sure if there are many songs catchier than this. This is very catchy indeed…

So catchy, in fact, that this track reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100.

06/09/2020: “Poor Man” by Five Revolutions

A country in Africa which I haven’t touched on so much in this blog is Zambia.

The ‘Zamrock’ scene is one shaped by the tumultuous history of Zambia, and represents something special in music terms.

The fuzzy bass, the funky drums, the strident yet harmonious vocals – it’s almost like a more punky version of reggae!

This track is unmistakably African, and has the familiar psychedelic feeling of 70s rock fusion on the continent. But once you’ve listened to Zamrock for half an hour or so, you really start to gain an appreciation for its uniqueness.

The song can be found on Welcome To Zamrock! How Zambia’s Liberation Led To a Rock Revolution, Vol. 2 (1972-1977), released in 2017 on Now Again records.