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!

03/01/2021: “Inferno” by Thundercat

Kicking off with a gospel inspired vocal harmony makes a statement. It happens in hip hop, particularly when artists like FlyLo are involved. Thundercat is a bassist, but broader part of that beat scene.

In this case, the gospel leads into a squelchy, dense soundscape, menacing yet majestic.

The song is about a descent into madness while everything else in the world collapses. Perhaps telling that it was written soon after Trump took the White House…

That also goes some ways to explain the paranoid texture of the track, and the craziness of the drums.

“Inferno” came out in 2017 on Drunk, Thundercat’s 3rd album.

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!

19/12/2020: “Concussion” by Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio

I love a good organ trio. There’s an easy going jazz funk grooviness to the format which even ‘okay’ players can tap into. Delvon Lamarr’s group, sometimes styles DLO3, are much more than okay!

In the jazz world, these guys are stars, as their debut album Close But No Cigar reached number one on the Contemporary Jazz Album chart in the US. They still feel like a fresh offering though.

For some reason they keep switching up their drummer – below, it’s David McGraw, who left the band about a year after this. But Delvon and his guitarist Jimmy are a strong foundation for the group’s jamming.

The band’s sound straddles the soul, jazz, funk and blues vibes, leading to frequent comparisons with Booker T & and MGs. They can really nail a groove!

The song came out first in late 2017, having featured at the band’s KEXP session in the video below earlier in the year.

04/12/2020: “Merry Go Round” by The Equatics

The Equatics made one album, which technically wasn’t released. So how can I discover a selection of funk gems from an obscure 70s high school band?

The internet is indeed the 8th wonder of the world!

That, and hard work by some of the rare groove and funk re-issue labels such as Mr. Bongo and Now Again Records.

It was Now Again records which bought new life to the album, re-releasing
Doin It!!!! in 2010. Otherwise, it’d have been very rare 1972 album hidden in some crates in America!

“Merry Go Round” is an original track, among the selection of covers. It could easily pass as a 60s soul classic. The melancholic rhythm and impassioned singing sink into a comfortable groove.

The organ, bass, guitar and horns weave a warm tapestry, and the drums shift everything along nicely.

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.