Monday, June 20, 2011

Genre Bid: Lounge Funk (Blaxploitation Meets The Umbrella Drink)

In my never ending quest to name a genre, I'll now try my hand at getting some support for Lounge Funk.  To be a Lounge Funk tune, I posit that the proposed track should be funky enough to dance to and/or swanky enough to drink an umbrella drink to, while listening. Lemme know if you think this is a coinable genre or if you have other suggestions. My initial Lounge Funk mixtape focused on swingin' psych and mellower, mostly instrumental funk and you'll see my notations and the mix below. Further down you'll see my proposed Kings of The Genre, Gregory James Edition, who fit nicely into this equation- David Axelrod : Whitesploitation :: Gregory James Edition :Lounge Funk, or this one, Cymande: Afro-Rock :: Gregory James Edition :Lounge Funk. Shaken or Stirred, I'd like to know if you think this dozen is genre worthy.

1. James Reese & The Progressions - Jody's Freeze
Nearing the definition of Lounge Funk: Brassy,classy, and sassy. From the brilliant, but not excessively loungey, Funky 16 Corners comp.

2. Bill Lawrence - Pussy Baby
Adding a touch of psych to your cocktail, with a salacious tune from the In-Kraut scene.

3. Henryk Debich - See You At The Disco Tonight
Flute fueled fuzz funk w/strings from Poland. 

4. Richard Rome - Ghost A Go Go 
A harp is mangled most funkily.

5. Peter King - Mr. Lonely Wolf 
His name might be more reminiscent of an accountant from Sheboygan, or a certain xenophobic congressman from Long Island, but flutes, percussions, and horns drive this mellow funker from the usually raucous Nigerian band leader.

6.The Brothers Johnson - Thunder Thumbs and Lightnin Licks
 With Quincy Jones at the boards smooth and funky is no contradiction.

7. Mystic Moods - Cosmic Sea
 The EL-Lay Studio elite keep it EZ, but with a beat.

8. Phil Upchurch - Cold Sweat
The incredible Chicago session guitarist, associated with the Chess label and others, tears up the JB classic.

9. Gregory James Edition - Changing Things
The leading lights of my genre bid...
10. Herbie Hancock  - Fat Mama
A groover from his 70's years at the WB. From the Fat Albert Rotunda LP. 

11. Monk Montgomery -A Place In The Sun
A Motown instrumental from '69 released on Hugh Masekela's Chisa label (they had a deal with Mr.Gordy). Monk played bass for the Crusaders and he is featured to fine effect throughout w/some 'lectric piano and strings.

12. Bobbie Gentry-Sittin' Pretty
Trust me, it works. I was surprised as you might be, but this falls into a Lee Hazelwood stoner-country bag, w/ flutes, strings, and Bobbie's pipes gettin' it done.

If you've made it this far and feel like Lounge Funk is for you, take a gander at this disc...

Thanks to the music loving folks over at Four Brothers Weekly Blog (though it seems to be on hiatus these days) , I got schooled in a back to the future way this week. I had never heard of The Gregory James Edition and their 1973 instrumental album, Prophets of Soul, they hipped me, and it is a knockout.

This Chicago band (Gregory Bibb on keys, James Norris on guitar, Anthony McAllister on drums) cut the album for Dakar Records (a division of Brunswick) and it pretty much went no where at the time. Shuggie Otis' Inspiration/Information is the only record of its era that I can even begin to compare it to, but take a listen and you might find it easier to see how their tunes would fit on a Stereolab, or even a Drum and Bass, record.

Go Get Prophets Of Soul

Prophets of Soul is a genuinely tweaked, original take on soul music, whose tunes (great use of farfisa organ and electric piano) could fit into a number of todays genre's and micro genres (lounge,funk,dn'b,soul,psych). Or perhaps it was the original Lounge Funk record.

The cover is suitable for framing too,no?

Follow that link above and make sure to say hi to Mogger Lafayette when you visit 4 Brothers. My kinda people over junkies (with deep crates) who love to share and chew the fat about tunes.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

It's All Lies - James Brown At The Garden

Take a look at the orignal cover of this 1967 King Records Live LP by James Brown..

Now Check this 2009 Reissue of the same LP.....

The new cover is the truthful one..Sure, James Brown made his debut at Madison Square Garden in 1966, but the LP issued as Live at the Garden was not recorded at midtown Manhattan's legendary arena, but instead, at the more modest (but very swanky), Latin Casino, in Cherry Hill,New Jersey. Sadly, the original LP (which is included in Hip-O Select's 2 cd and very deluxe package), doesn't even hint at how good the James Brown Experience was; shifting the order of tunes, eliminating the opening band set (which JB played organ for), editing out most of the stage patter, and adding fake crowd noise/arena ambiance. Maybe that's why it became such a minor part of the JB canon. Although  the original LP running order from the January 67 Latin Casino run is presented on disc 1, you'll want to move right on to disc 2.

The new expanded edition of Live At The Garden, dispenses with the lies and half-truths (that were pretty common in the day), and on the second CD, gives you a typical (though a little truncated) James Brown supper club set. The nod to crossover, not included in the original LP, Come Rain Or Come Shine, is more of a wink, 'cause for the most part, JB and the band (led by Pee wee Ellis) rip it up. (Not that there's anything wrong with supper club crossover bids-see Sam Cooke at the Harlem Square Club). On top of the tinkling glasses, there's also a ton of audience interaction and clowning that you never saw in arena or larger venues, and that's what makes this new offering unique in the JB oeuvre.

At the time of the record's original release JB was embroiled in his ongoing feud with King Records head Syd Nathan. Though they respected each other and made each other a lot of money, they agreed on almost nothing. Nathan hated live records and that's why this one was so tinkered thought Nathan, the LP would be stepping on 45 and album sales for the newest hit, Bring It Up, and JB's latest full length, Raw Soul (March '67), which was released a mere 2 months before Live At The Garden hit shelves. James won the argument, but this time Syd Nathan was right. For aesthetic and marketing reasons the record didn't do too much.

This wasn't of much consequence to JB..he felt that if he recorded it, it was a waste not to put it out. I guess JB and Prince went to the same school of marketing. Chuckles aside though, the gussied up version of Live At the Garden is a nice addition to any JB collection, capturing the band on the cusp of their funk breakthrough. As an added track, a rehearsal piece recorded on an empty stage in Cherry Hill, Let Yourself Go, hinted at the full blown funk of Cold Sweat that would be released in June.

Go Get Live At The Garden pt.1
and Pt.2 

JB circa '67