|Jack|LK's|Bmthbeat|FATJ|Reviews|WGS|Bits|

Or Can They?

Back in the late 70's, I remember certain members of the English music press being rather partial to reggae (mainly because of its association with punk rock - personally I considered these rather strange bedfellows, but then again I wasn't smoking spliffs in a squat in Ladbroke Grove). As such, these scribes were invariably critically scathing of white rock groups who took to recording material in a reggae style - it was memorably derided as "cod-reggae", inferring that only those of black Jamaican origin (apart from those rock press darlings The Clash) could play the form with any degree of competence and authenticity. Arguably the most notorious example of cod-reggae is 10cc's "Dreadlock Holiday", although there are plenty of other contenders around.

Of course, august scholars of popular music will debate with you that for the last few decades, the nasty and evil old white man has often appropriated the music created by the pure and poor black man for his own (usually profitable) ends - and often killed the goose that laid the golden egg at the same time. Other than the above, perhaps the most (in)famous example is the musical mugging of (rhythm and) blues, with the white boys making it longer, louder, and filling with interminable dentist-drill guitar solos - yuck! By that time, the black musicians had taken the R&B rhythms and grooves a couple of steps further along the line to evolve into what became known as funk. And once this music began spreading out from its original home of the American urban ghettos, so the crackers thought they could crack what appears on the surface a simple form of music, but is in fact a deceptively intricate weave of sonic texture that will easily make those not wholly informed look complete fools. This feature takes a look at the exponents of such efforts to determine to what extent they succeeded (or failed). 

Had the above-mentioned rock hacks shown any interest in funk (they rarely if ever did at that time), they probably would have savaged such white imitators in a similar fashion to reggae regurgitators. If so, perhaps the pejorative term "faux-funk" might have been spawned? However, unlike them I am happy to try to keep an open mind when assessing honkies trying to get funky. Having trawled far and wide for what you might think a relatively barren strain of music, I've managed to find several hundred tracks that fall into the "white funk" category in one way or another, made by all manner of people from funk specialists to jazz fusioneers to easy listening orchestras to rock superstars. Some of those listed below may not be all white, but the non-black membership (or contribution) is substantial enough for them to qualify (unlike War for example, whose only white member was blues-harpist Lee Oskar - yes, former Animal Eric Burdon also briefly fronted the band at their inception, but that was before they got funky). There are also entries where thought worthy for tracks that are perhaps more funk-influenced rather than straight-out efforts to replicate the form.

This analogy may amuse you, but I would suggest that white funk practitioners are a bit like transvestites: you can spot a bad one a mile away (betrayed by their rock/male traits), and even the most convincing aren't the real thing. Yet some put so much skill and effort into their artifice that in a way they are of even more interest than that which they imitate.  

Below is a comprehensive (if no doubt incomplete) list of white funk tracks* (along with some commentary when considered necessary), given a personal rating ranging from one star ("What the funk was that?!?") to five stars ("Play that funky music white boy!")...

* also including other non-black shades i.e. Latino, Asian, etc - the female of the species are here too. Some of these selections are educated guesses - if I'm wrong and they are actually by black acts, then email me and I'll remove them accordingly. The inverse applies too: if you know about any white funk tracks not listed here. tell me and I'll check them out...

ps - there is some overlap between this feature and a couple of others on my site - some entries have been linked when considered necessary.

E N T R I E S   L I S T E D   I N   R E D   A R E   R E L A T I V E L Y   R EC E N T   A D D I T I O N S !

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 A CERTAIN RATIO

80's Mancunians, the darlings of Factory boss Tony Wilson. Kind of a funkier version of New Order, but nowhere near as successful

Shack Up *

Abysmal version of the classic track by Banbarra (whose line-up may also have been white to some degree, although I have no conclusive proof) - these boys had a lot to learn at this point

Knife Slits Water **

With the popping bass it sounds quite funky. Without it it doesn't sound funky at all

Only Together ***

They were never going to give the likes of the Average White Band sleepless nights, but as time went on, they managed to harness a respectable funk element to their sound

Bootsy **

I don't know if this is some kind of tribute to a certain William Collins (there's no mention to that effect in the lyrics) but if so it's probably best that the man himself never finds out

Love Is The Way ***

Possibly their most refined attempt at getting funky, although the sequenced synth bass sounds a bit clunky

 

 ABC

80's retro-kitsch-ironists - they sported gold lamé suits to match their music

Tears Are Not Enough ****

Tough strutting debut preceded flowery phase. Avoid the album version - Trevor Horn and Anne Dudley have ruined it by smothering it in cod-Liberace piano flourishes a la "Poison Arrow"/"The Look Of Love"

Alphabet Soup **

 

 AEROSMITH

Big-time hard rockers

Walk This Way ***

Perhaps the ultimate fusion of funk and metal - small wonder Run DMC took a fancy to it

Love In An Elevator ***

Another stadium rocker that's deceptively funky - it really cooks underneath the guitar solos

 

 AGO

Long-haired short-statured Italian stallion trying hard to combine funk with early 80's electro-dance

Good Time ***

For You **

Let's Fun **

You Make Me Do It **

Ago competes with the Gibson Brothers in the laryngitis larynx stakes - might have got another star had the popping bass not been so obvious

 

 ALYN AINSWORTH

70's UK orchestra leader, also did much TV musical directing

Colditz March ****

The 70's war drama theme re-invented in Deodato 2001 style

Farandole ***

Surprisingly workable adaptation of a classical tune

The Entertainer **

Turning ragtime into funk is perhaps a little too ambitious

 

 JAN AKKERMAN

Dutch guitarist and co-founder of prog-rockers Focus before turning in a smoother jazz-fusion direction once going solo

Funk Me ***

Polished laid back effort that would have scored higher but for the at-times overpowering popping bass

 

 KEN ALDIN

One of several aliases for German library music composer Jurgen Franke

Dark Alley ***

Library big band funk meets Blaxploitation

 

 ALLEZ ALLEZ

Early 80's Belgian band fronted by an English female singer

She's Stirring Up *

Marathon Dance *

Flesh And Blood **

Swedish Girl (Papa Was) ***

Not that they needed to, but they let us know in brackets the inspiration for this one - might even have had another star but for bad bass playing

 

 HERB ALPERT

Trumpet-playing easy listening superstar, and the "A" in A&M Records

Rise ***

Is it disco, funk, jazz-funk, or smooth jazz? However you want to pigeonhole it, it's a classy groove

 

 THE AMBOY DUKES

I always thought this was the American group that spawned heavy metal gonzo guitarist Ted Nugent, but according to a bootleg "Breaks & Beats" LP there was also this British band of the same name

The Marquis *

Brassy effort that might have scraped a better rating as poor imitators of the "JB's" sound if not for the really rubbish sounding bassline

 

 LOS AMIGOS INVISIBLES

South American postmodern dance music

Cachete A Cachete ***

Not bad if you do some serious editing so it just sticks to the riff

Quiro Desintegrar A Tu Novio ***

 

 ANIMAL MAGIC

Bristolian group that was part of the early 80's punk-funk scene

Standard Man **

Standard sound for punk-funk i.e. funk played at breakneck speed with shouty vocals and squealing sax

 

 ANIMAL MAGNET

Part of the early 80's New Romantic-linked Latin revival scene

Amor ***

A fusion of Latin and funk in the vein of what their much-more successful peers Modern Romance were doing, but considerably better than that, and this didn't even get an official release - maybe their suits weren't brightly coloured enough? (see below)

 

 THE APOLLINAIRES

Early 80's outfit signed to the legendary 2-Tone label, when label head-honcho Jerry Dammers was looking for life beyond the ska revival

The Feeling's Gone **

Envy The Love ***

Give It Up ***

 

 ARENA

Aussie jazzers

The Long One **

This has the potential to really groove, but keeps losing its way thanks to over-indulgent soloing and constant start-stopping - most frustrating

 

 ARIZONA

Their main fare was southern-fried boogie, but they also matched funk riffs with pop hooks

Aberation **

Dance If You Wanna Dance ****

Got No Business Being That Funky ****

Music Ship ***

 

 THE ARMADA ORCHESTRA

British session musos mainly doing instrumental takes of familiar material - basically Ultrafunk under a different name (see below)

For The Love Of Money ***

Respectable treatment of The O'Jays' funkiest moment

The Drifter ***

An original that's in the zone between funk and early disco

 

 CHICO ARNEZ

Easy listening exponent trading under latino pseudonym

Do The Funky Chicken ***

The vocalist on this Rufus Thomas cover is obviously a white guy, but the rhythm and especially the horns are surprisingly competent

 

 TIHOMIR POP ASANOVIC

Sounds Slav, but could be German

Hot Pants Road ***

Fusion take on a James Brown tune - not that you''d guess if you didn't know. Loses it a bit when the soloing starts

 

 ASHTON GARDNER & DYKE

Blues rock trio who followed the early 70's trend of using their surnames as the band moniker (although perhaps not as successfully as the likes of ELP and CS&N)

Hanging ****

This impressive brass and wah-wah laden instrumental was bizarrely part of a soundtrack featured in a film about the American civil war... and perhaps even more bizarrely was written by the Deep Purple organ grinder Jon Lord

 

 ATLANTA RHYTHM SECTION

Southern rock outfit

So In To You **

 

 THE ATLANTIC FAMILY

Basically the Average White Band with a load of guest instrumentalists mainly associated with the Atlantic label

McEwan's Export ***

Pick Up The Pieces ***

Interminable live versions of classic AWB tracks not helped by soloists trying to out-do each other

 

 ATMOSFEAR

Part of the late 70's/early 80's UK jazz-funk movement

Motivation ***

Like many of their peers they sound more influenced by disco than pure funk - this is probably the closest they got

Xtra Special ****

A great 80's dance tune that sounds like it was recorded Stateside, with just enough of the funk about it to be included here

 

 BRIAN AUGER

Organ grinder somewhere in the middle of soul, pop & jazz

Straight Ahead *****

No organ but loads of wah-wah and Fender Rhodes

Inner City Blues ***

Okay cover of Marvin Gaye track

Brain Damage **

The good news is that as far as I know, this has nothing to do with Pink Floyd. The bad news is that even though Brian pulls out all the stops (ho ho) with organ, electric piano, and synth solos, he still can't raise this lengthy instrumental workout above the level of sluggish

 

 AUTOMATIC MAN

Half-black half-white quartet featuring ex-Santana drummer Michael Shreve

Automatic Man *

Some wah-wah and popping bass can't disguise the fact this is a spacey prog wigout

 

 AVERAGE WHITE BAND

Soulful Scottish combo - after their drummer OD'd, they replaced him with a black "Sassanach"! Probably the kings of the whole kaboodle here - they were knocking out authentic funk grooves almost for fun throughout the 70's

Cut The Cake *****

Got The Love ***

I'm The One ****

Pick Up The Pieces *****

King of the white funk instrumental. Not only that, but one of the best records ever made, period. Spawned several cover versions that could never hope to emulate its perfection

Pick Up The Pieces ***

Demo recording of AWB's finest that's somehow seen the light of day on at least one of their compilation releases (one for the completists to track down) - bass line isn't quite the same (or as good) and it's missing those brilliant interlocking harmonised horn charts in the sax break

Person To Person ****

Person To Person ***

Demo version of the above that's also escaped from the vaults

Schoolboy Crush ****

Must be the only funk track with sleighbells (!)

Stop The Rain ***

The Message ****

Groovin' The Night Away ***

High Flyin' Woman ****

Rare outing for a wah-wah

T.L.C. ***

This early effort is a bit of a curate's egg - very laboured and over-busy early on, before breaking into a classic lean and sparse funk groove. One for the sound editor methinks

Get It Up For Love ****

Only denied the full accolade by a touch too much open hi-hat

The Jugglers ***

McEwan's Export ****

As far as I know, the only other instrumental they did - not as good as "Pick Up The Pieces", but then what is?

Same Feeling, Different Song ***

Perhaps a touch of irony in the lyric, as this is a bit faster and more urgent than their usual funk groove

Your Love Is A Miracle ***

Work To Do ***

Cover of an Isley Brothers tune. I suspect the Brand New Heavies rather liked this

Catch Me (Before I Have To Testify) **

Polished Earth Wind & Fire-like effort that is spoilt by a weird out-of-tune sounding guitar line

Love Your Life **

A decent groove let down by a: weak choruses b: over-optimistic lyrical message and c: some weird Brecker Brothers-style horn harmonies

Goin' Home ***

Okay almost instrumental that sags a bit with the vocal interlude in the middle - this one easily remedied with a sound editor

The Price Of The Dream ****

Mellow groove that has a hint of "What's Goin' On" about it, but also plenty of subtly funky guitars and bass

 

 DAVID AXELROD

Groove collectors go mental for this American 60's/70's all-rounder, but most of what I've heard doesn't justify the hype

It Ain't For You ***

This is okay but the drummer is suspect and it meanders somewhat, even straying into country country (if you see what i mean)

 

 BABE RUTH

Early 70's rock

The Mexican **

The only half-decent bit is the tacked-on cover of Morricone's "Good Bad & Ugly" in a pseudo-funky style that unfortunately doesn't last long

 

 THE BALTIMORES

One of those fake bands (probably consisting of white sessioneers) put together to cash in on the soul scene with cheap-as-chips rehashes

Superstition ****

The clavinet riff on the Stevie Wonder original is emulated here by a guitarist (they probably couldn't afford to hire the real thing), who actually does a good job, as does everyone else involved. Sadly it fades out far too early (presumably to accommodate some more wishy-washy soul stuff on the album - shame)

 

 THE BAMBOOS

Australian instrumental combo of recent vintage. Apart from the occasional foray into Stax-style grooves (that I personally generally find pretty lame), the agenda for their debut album is straight-down-the-line no-nonsense pared down funk. Unfortunately their second at times veers uncomfortably close to hip hop territory with guest vocalists and even (aarrgghh!) a rapper

Another Day In the Life Of Mr Jones ***

Black Foot *****

Crooked Cop ****

Eel Oil ***

Golden Rough ****

Step It Up ***

Tobago Strut *****

Bring It Home ***

That early James Brown sound

Happy **

My Baby's Cheating ***

Pussy Footin' ***

Rawville ***

The Witch ***

Tongan Steel ****

The Bamboos Theme *****

 

 THE BAND OF THE BLACK WATCH

Scottish regimental/military ensemble

Do The Spanish Hustle ***

Beaty, brassy and surprisingly well-done version of the Fatback Band track, with lots of wah-wah (but alas no bagpipes that sometimes feature in their repertoire)

Highland Hustle *

The 'pipes are present on this one, but apart from a burst of clavinet action at the start this is nae good

 

 DANIEL BARBE

Early 80's (I think) Canadian (I also think) Vangelis-alike

Honky Fonky ****

The "guitars" are actually synthesisers - brilliant mimicry

 

 CHRIS BARBER

The Daddy(o) of the 50's British trad-jazz revival

Get Rolling ***

 

 BARIGOZZI GROUP

Italian instrumental group

Red Face **

Dark Hands ***

 

 BARRABAS

Spanish band whose latin-rock style owed a debt to Santana, but also picked up funk and disco influences as the 70's progressed - despite all their lyrics being in English they never made any impact in the UK or US

Woman **

Chicco ***

Very rocky but a nice flute solo

It ***

Great verses, rubbish choruses

Funky Lady **

Suzie Wong **

Tell Me The Thing ***

Fire Girl ***

High Light ***

Sexy Lady**

Swinger ***

Do It ***

On The Road Again **

 

 THE BARRON KNIGHTS

Musical comedy troupe, specialising in "humourous" versions of big hits

Boozy Nights **

Not-particularly funny skit on Heatwave's classic - musically some of it is well-observed, whilst in other parts it's rather painful

 

 CLAUDJA BARRY

Black Jamaican/Canadian singer who migrated to the German session scene before breaking through as a solo artist (a la Donna Summer, but obviously not quite so successfully) - once released an album with the puntastic title "I Claudja"

Dance, Dance, Dance ***

Claudja's musicians were all white European sessioneers - this is a relatively-hard disco-funk groove with impressive horn arrangements

 

 THE BASIC

Anonymous session crew put together for a record given away with milk as a promo

Milk ***

Psych-funk

 

 TREVOR BASTOW

The next of quite a few more library/production music composers in this list

Speedster **

Not particularly well named, more like a theme for a slick US soap a la "Dynasty" or "Falcon Crest". Not that bad considering it's the eighties

 

 THE BEACH BOYS

Surf group

Funky Pretty *

Whatever possessed them to give this plodding ballad a title like this, God only knows - definitely not a case of good vibrations

 

 BE BOP DELUXE

Art-prog rockers, unfortunate to come along just as punk blew everything out of the water

Shine ***

This is the instrumental live version (nothing like the studio take). Nice Rhodes solo, not so nice guitar solo

 

 JEFF BECK

Legendary rock guitarist who experimented with funk on instrumental fusion album "Blow by Blow" in the mid-70's

Air Blower ***

Constipated Duck **

Jeff obviously had a problem coming up with decent titles for his workouts

You Know What I Mean ***

 

 JEFF BECK AND JAN HAMMER GROUP

Jeff hooks up with Czech fusion keyboardist and friends

Come Dancing ***

Play With Me ***

 

 BECK, BOGERT AND APPICE

Jeff hooks up with American rhythm section

Superstition *

According to legend Beck was actually present at the genesis of the original, messing about on the drums when the boy Wonder told him "Hey I can put a clavinet line to that beat", and the rest was history. Despite that Jeff and his chums do their best to desecrate it with an atrocious heavy rock arrangement

 

 THE BEE GEES

60's pop balladeers reborn as 70's hairy-chested medallion-wearing disco superstars

Boogie Child ***

This starts out strongly, then Barry (oh come on, the other two were virtually the Andrew Ridgeleys of the Bee Gees) loses his nerve and goes and messes it up by throwing in odd time signatures and other unnecessary production tricks

Backtafunk *

Such inspired punning deserves better than this rubbish - full of hideous 80's production (but not funk)

 

 MADELINE BELL

Black American UK-based session singer

Comin' Atcha ***

Composition and backing courtesy of John Paul Jones - yes, he of groupie-shagging tv-hurling hotel room-wrecking airplane seat-wetting abominable rock monsters Led Zeppelin (although by all accounts he was the quiet one)

Soul Slap ****

This time it's Alan Parker (and probably other members of Blue Mink - see below) who's backing Maddy

 

 THE BELLE STARS

Female version of Madness

Sign Of The Times *

Lightweight jolly pop tune into which an ill-fitting funky guitar break was interspersed

 

 DAVID BENDETH

English-born Canadian jazz fusion guitarist who scored on the disco circuit with "Feel The Real"

Better Believe It ***

Clavinet-driven funky disco crossover

 

 BRIAN BENNETT

The Shadows drummer - perhaps the most unlikely-looking pop star in the history of popular music. Small wonder then that he later turned to producing instrumental soundtrack and production music

Aim High ***

Sounds like a funky version of the theme from oil-soap "Dallas"

Boogie Juice ***

More than a little similar to "The Streets Of San Francisco" cop show theme

It's A Crazy World ***

Here mainly on account of its squelchy bass/sax riff

Grand Funk *

Despite the title there's no funk here

 

 BERGENDY

Mildly prog-like Hungarian rock band

Fagypont Folott Mienk A Vilag ***

Not that this makes much more sense, but the title translates as "above freezing point the world belongs to us"

Tukor II (Mirror 2) ***

Slinky groove with soulful choruses - would have scored another star but for the harsh vocals

Lusta Negy (Lazy Four) ***

As would this

Automata Szerelem (Automatic Love) **

 

 ADAM BEST

Mover and shaker on the 60's UK live scene before building his own synths and studio

High In Grass **

DIY effort very much based on James Brown's late 60's nascent funk recordings

 

 BIDDU

Indian-born disco producer - his clients included Tina Charles (see below) and Carl Douglas. Not known for his modesty, he launched his own career as performer/orchestral leader (using mainly white British session musicians), coming over as a poor man's Love Unlimited Orchestra (that was helmed by Barry White, who was himself a poor man's Isaac Hayes)

You Don't Stand A Chance ***

Futuristic Journey ***

Quite nice wah-wah and spacy synths and delayed trumpet effects, but the (mercifully) occasional lead vocal (presumably by that shrinking violet Biddu himself) is painful to say the least

 

 BIG BAND KATOWICE

Polish fusion orchestra

Sorcerer ***

 

 BIG BOSS MAN

Retro groovy funkers

Sea Grooves ***

 

 BIG JIM "H"

Pseudonym for Hammond organ grinder(s) churning out cheezy listening for ultra-budget label SGA

Jungle Fever ***

Cover of the cult porno pseudo-funk "classic" by Chakachas - if you're looking for the original, I recommend you get this superior version instead

 

 BIRDS WITH EARS

Indie types, probably much played on the "Peel" show - whatever one thinks of their music, they had one of the greatest names for a band... Ever

Freak **

They deserve more than one star just for trying (or maybe because they couldn't resist calling their album "Youth In Asia" - ho ho). No honestly, it's actually better than it has any right to be, the weird animal-type noises only adding to its appeal

 

 BIRTHA

Lady rockers

Can't Stop The Madness ***

Funk-rock crossover that benefits from a bit of judicious sound-editing

 

 ELVIN BISHOP

Southern fried rock

Struttin' My Stuff **

Southern fried funk, but still on the rocky side

Slick Titty Boom **

 

 BLACK BUSTER

German-based outfit (that may actually be of Philippino origin) who I think started out as cod-latin exponents prior to cutting what is now a highly-sought-after album of original funk-based material, before spending the rest of their career rehashing disco hits of the day and giving hoary old standards the four-on-the-floor treatment

Old Man ****

Sounds good with nice Moogy noises

Bump The Bump ***

Think they'd been listening hard to the Commodores' "Machine Gun"

Hassle ****

Shack Up ***

A functional cover of the Banbarra classic

Watcha Gonna Say **

In the style of Sly Stone

We Dig Your Kind ***

 

 BLACK GORILLA

German producers who had a novelty cod-afro disco-pop hit with "Gimme That Banana" - they got in black frontmen and white (British) musicians to "perform" it on TOTP

Funky Jungle **

The b-side of the single

 

 BLACK SUGAR

Peruvian latin-funksters

The Looser ****

Funky Man ****

Understanding **

Starts off pretty funky then heads off into an early Santana feel

Wake Up **

 

 BLONDIE

New York new-wavers who dabbled in disco and other genres

Rapture **

Most people remember this for the rap section - I think that's the worst part of the record, though as someone who has always hated rap in any form (like disco syndrums, I honestly thought it was a novelty that would soon pass) that's hardly surprising

 

 BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS

Possibly the first-ever jazz-rock ensemble, almost certainly the first rock act featuring a front-line horn section

Nuclear Blues ****

Thankfully not blues (or apart from a brief excursion, not a "Disco Mix" as stated on the sleeve), but rather some fine funk fission

 

 BLUE FEATHER

Dutch 80's dance outfit

Let's Funk Tonight ***

Only lightly funky but still a good groove, especially on the extended version with instrumental breaks

 

 BLUE MINK

UK based sessioneers (including Herbie Flowers, Madeline Bell and songwriter Roger Cook) who formed their own band

Get Up ***

Original slower rawer version with a hint of gospel of what was later covered disco style with more commercial success as "(7-6-5-4-3-2-1) Blow Your Whistle"

 

 BOBBY AND BETTY GO TO THE MOON

A.k.a. master opportunist Leo Muller and his intrepid band of faceless session musicians, this time cashing in on the pre-pubescent market

The Party After Landing At Lunar Central **

This is the b-side of a childrens' adventure story LP - basically an excuse to put some already-recorded stuff on the album, mixed in with some space-like effects. Amongst it all is an instrumental sounding uncannily like early James Brown a la "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag"

 

 BOBBY & CHAS

Pseudonym for French/Belgian session guys Claude Arnou & Charles Fonderson

Man I Dig The Music ***

Perhaps the title gives it away - would a real black US funk outfit actually title a record as such? Unlikely, but this is quite good in parts anyway. However one has to wonder if the deep-voiced dude intoning "Gotta get on down" throughout is actually not a "brother", but some white European guy trying to sound like one (like Frank Farian did on the Boney M stuff)

 

 THE BOOGALOO COMBO

A Latin combo, but although the titles are in Spanish their albums were released in Brazil

Hot Pants Road ***

A decent instrumental take on the James Brown track - shame it doesn't last long

 

 BOOKER T AND THE MG'S

Legendary black and white combo that was the Stax house band as well as doing their own instrumental thing

Sticky Stuff ***

Bits of this have a decent funk groove topped with some spacey moog, but the rest just drifts along rather aimlessly

The Stick **

 

 THE BOPPERS

Almost as many white guys as black in this large soul/RnB ensemble that later became known as The LA Boppers (maybe like The Spinners there was more than one well-known band of that name)

Everybody Wants To Be A Star ****

This is mostly right on the nose with super-tight horns, so why did they mess it up with a couple of lame breakdowns? (one for the sound editor to hopefully remedy)

Life Is What You Make It ***

Funk It Out ***

Dreamer ***

Give Me Some ****

Super slick funk-meets-early-80's-dance

Where Do The Bop Go? **

Where did the white guys go? There was only one left by the time they recorded this. But then again there were only 3 black guys left as well

 

 BOTH HANDS FREE

Mancunian session musos take a break from backing Tony Christie to lay down some instrumental jazz-rock fusion - a home grown Weather Report

City Slickers ****

I was once taught percussion by the drummer on this (Dave Hassell), who is highly respected in Manchester music circles - as expected he does a good job here

 

 DAVID BOWIE

Legendary pop chameleon - around the mid 70's he became known as "The Thin White Duke", but his rhythm section at that time were all black musicians

Fame *****

The only time a Beatle (Lennon) got funky

John I'm Only Dancing (Again) **

The Dame revamps one of his Ziggy-era rock tunes with his new black buddies. Although you want such audacity to succeed, it doesn't quite work - perhaps why it never appeared on "Young Americans" (and only released as an afterthought)

Stay ***

Actually another retread of "John I'm Only Dancing". A more controlled funk-rock crossover, but goes on too long at the end (like the previous entry)

Let's Dance **

The choruses (the stronger bits) are funky in an 80's-in-yer-face manner, presumably influenced by producer (and Chic guitarist) Nile Rodgers. The verses (the weaker bits) are a bit less in-yer-face, and a lot less funky (in fact not funky at all)

 

 DAVID BOYDELL

Disco dude

Jet Lag **

 

 THE BRAND NEW HEAVIES

90's acid-jazz-funk revivalists - they even nicked their name from obscure US funk outfit The Backyard Heavies. As they got more successful so the funk got more diluted

B.N.H. ***

Brother Sister ****

Country Funkin' ***

Gimme One Of Those ***

Have A Good Time *****

Mister Tanaka ***

Once Is Twice Enough ****

People Get Ready ***

Bears more than a passing resemblance to "Me And Baby Brother" by War

Put The Funk Back In It ***

Shakedown **

Sphynx ***

Ten Ton Take ****

 

 BRASS FOUNDRY

East midlands working men's club/cabaret band of the 70's - their puntastic name probably reflects the type of audiences they entertained. Apparently at times featured some moonlighting members of Deep Purple (!)

Superstition ****

Robust and rousing version of the Wonder tune, featuring some excellent drum work (probably not Purple's Ian Paice). Presumably to allow the singer to ad-lib ad nauseum, the fadeout differs from the original

 

 ANDRE BRASSEUR

Belgian organ-grinder

Funky *

 

 THE BRAT

Early 80's comedy/novelty "tribute" to the antics of tennis bad-boy John McEnroe

The Umpire Strikes Back **

Double whammy as they also try and cash in on Star Wars, that was also big at the time. Disregard the vocal hi-jinks and you're left with some cheesy synth-heavy funk 

 

 THE BRECKER BROTHERS

Jazz-fusion horn-playing siblings, fond of atonal-sounding harmonies (if that makes sense)

Keep It Steady ***

Would have been better had there been less open hi-hat (great for disco, not so good for funk) and over-cute girly vocals

Sneakin' Up Behind You ***

Like the previous track, the verses are tougher than the choruses

Dig A Little Deeper **

Grease Piece **

 

 BRINSLEY SCHWARTZ

Early 70's band who were in the vanguard of the pub rock movement, now mainly noted for having highly-respected muso Nick Lowe in their ranks

Funk Angel *

Someone on the internet remarked this (cod-country rock effort) sounded like Van Morrison... which is enough to send me heading for the hills

 

 DAVID BROMBERG BAND

Country meets rhythm & blues

Danger Man II **

`

 BROTHER TO BROTHER

Duo consisting of one black and one white guy - to emphasise their bond they appeared in white and black make-up respectively

Chance With You ****

Laid back funk with a hint of disco

 

 THE BROTHERS

Soul/disco covers cash-in project. I'm sure the producers had Italian names (how many black Italians do you know?)

Fire ***

Decent organ-led instrumental take of the Ohio Players funker - some of the horn lines sound a bit suspect though

 

 PETER BROWN

He was a white version of Prince i.e. a totally self-contained unit in the days before technology allowed Uncle Tom Cobley and all do it

Do You Wanna Get Funky With Me *

I remember being attracted to this by the title, and was really disappointed it didn't match up to my expectation - not really funk, not really disco, not really anything really

Dance With Me ***

This is a better example of funk-disco crossover, although it stops and starts too often for my liking

Crank It Up (Funk Town) *

Don't be fooled by the bracketed part of the title - this is rocky disco (not funk in any way imaginable)

 

 REX BROWN COMPANY

German library music project

Hot Track ****

 

 TOM BROWNE

When he wasn't hitting the heights as an airline pilot, he hit the heights with his trumpet

Funkin' For Jamaica ****

Browne (in skintone as well as name) may well have got the credit for this, but the fact is this late period street-style workout is very much Dave Grusin's baby (btw, it refers to the district in NYC, not the Caribbean isle)

 

 BUSH

Like Nirvana, there was one than more pop group called Bush. This isn't the crappy British grunge lot, but a late-60's American trio

Got To Leave The City ***

Bluesy funk rock - suffers a bit from occasional Clappo-like dentist drill guitar licks, but back then everyone had to have that sound

 

 BUTTON DOWN BRASS

Easy project that featured Ray Davies and his "funky" (sic) trumpet. He has another entry below under his given name

Heavy Water ***

Ray's stuff always sounds a little murky to me, but this is ok

Taboo **

Funked-up attempt at a latin/exotica standard

Superstition **

Pretty dull reading of the Stevie Wonder track

 

 BUTTS BAND

Anglo-American venture featuring Doors guitarist Robbie Kreiger

Baja Bus **

Rather leaden funk-rock that metamorphosises into a poor-man's Santana-style groove

 

 CABARET VOLTAIRE

Industrial/alternative noise

Big Funk *

Big 80's industrial dance noise. Perhaps they make reference to funk is as in "bad mood" - there's certainly no funk here in a musical sense

 

 CALDERA

New York-based jazz-fusion band of mainly Latino/Hispanic membership

Sky Islands ***

Sounds like one of Earth, Wind & Fire's more adventurous efforts

 

 TONY CAMILLO'S BAZUKA

American producer, presumably of Italian extraction

Dynomite ***

Great central riff, but parts of it sound like Disco Tex and his Sex-o-lettes, which is not a good thing (and gets a point deducted as a result)

Theme From Policewoman *

Dire attempt to funk-up what is almost certainly the worst theme ever written for a 70's cop show

 

 TONI CAMPO

Session bassist

Two Way Stretch ****

Only gets 4 stars if you edit out all the stops and starts and messing about

 

 CAPRI

Contemporary band

Car Chase On Phoenix Avenue ***

Fast And frothy - typical background music for trendy makeover/reality shows

 

 CAPTAIN SENSIBLE

Damned guitarist and punk icon

Wot **

Wot the funk?!?

 

 LARRY CARLTON

Ubiquitous West-coast guitarist - his grainy sound is instantly recognisable

You Gotta Get It While You Can ***

This is somewhere in the middle of funk, disco, and jazz-fusion

 

 JASPER CARROTT

Brummie folkie-turned-comedian-turned-megarich-showbiz-entrepreneur

Funky Moped *

Although Jasper had a hit with this funk-free single (and even appeared on TOTP), I seem to recall my pubescent peers preferring to snigger along to its b-side "The Magic Roundabout", a lewd expletive-filled monologue that probably sounds rather tame these days

 

 CASABLANCA

I think this band were popular on the London live circuit in the early 70's, but got nowhere on vinyl

Aint No War ****

Country Funkin *

It took me years to get this pun (funkin/bumpkin - geddit?). No relation to the BNH track, or to funk in any way for that matter

Funky Opposition ***

Strong riff/chorus but weak linking bits

Get It Good **

 

 THE CATE BROTHERS

Another one of those southern boogie bands that were around in the 70's, produced by Steve Cropper of Booker T & MG's fame

In One Eye And Out The Other ***

I recently caught a live rendition of this on the BBC axe-fest "Guitar Heroes". Main riff was ok, but it kept going off into a weedy second bit (a common fault of whiteys trying to funk is that they think they still need to do verse-chorus-verse-chorus-middle 8 etc song structures)

 

 PHILIP CATHERINE

Belgian jazz guitarist

Give It Up Or Turn It Loose ***

Another James Brown cover - despite his reputation as a soloist Catherine sticks to the riff, with most of the soloing is by a breathy flute which is good. However drums and especially bass are not so good (I've said this elsewhere on this page, but you shouldn't be using a plectrum to play funk)

 

 FELIX CAVALIERE

Keyboardist and singer with 60's soul-rock crossover band The (Young) Rascals before later going solo

Flip Flop ***

An odd one that veers between smooth funk and out-and-out AOR - parts of it also sound like Steely Dan, which is no surprise as several of the players involved are regular Dan henchmen

 

 CAYENNE

Latin-influenced combo that were busy on the London live circuit in the 80's

Roberto Who **

Instantly-forgettable cocktail jazz-funk

 

 ANDRE CECCARELLI

French drummer

Gang Progress ****

The only reason this doesn't get full marks is because it's brevity

Funk No. 2 **

Funk No. 3 ***

 

 CERRONE

Another French drummer - this time the diminutive disco dude

Give Me Love ***

Very disco, but with a classic nagging funk guitar line

 

 CHAKACHAS

Belgian easy listening group

Jungle Fever **

This has become known as a funk classic in some quarters, but as I've said elsewhere it sounds to me much more like a case of badly-done cod-afro rock - the Big Jim "H" cover (above) is not only better, but cheaper and easier to find to boot

 

 CHAMPS BOYS

Another Aussie project

Tubular Bells ***

Mike Oldfield's prog tune actually lends itself quite well to funky disco

 

 JAMES CHANCE a.k.a. JAMES WHITE

New York No-Waver

Contort Yourself *

Somewhat unbelievably this racket was talked up as some sort of funk in the style mags of the early 80's - it's not, it's just alternative noise

 

 IRENE CHANTER

UK session singer

Cuckoo-Cuckoo *****

Unbelievably, this was written and produced by MOR mainstay Roger Cook (of "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing" fame)

 

 CHARADES

Early 80's vehicle for dance producers Richard Scher and Lottie Golden

Gimme The Funk **

Fairly decent dance track that would be better-off without the funk references

 

 TINA CHARLES

70's session singer turned dumpy disco diva. I always thought her voice was thin yet shrill - not a good combination really

Boogiethon ***

Somewhat embarrassingly for Tina (and thankfully for me) her "distinctive" vocals are actually absent from this virtually-instrumental workout buried deep on side 2 of one of her albums. It's basically producer Biddu and his white session crew (some great guitar work going on, but there's something very wrong with the bass). By the way, after originally posting this feature on the internet, I came across a Biddu album that had this very same track featured on it - he was obviously ahead of his time when it came to recycling

 

 CHART HITS

On-a-shoestring copyists of chart-hitting tunes of the day

Gonna Love You Just A Little Bit More ***

As you'd expect, the Barry White impression is laughable, but the musical backing is surprisingly well done

 

 CHOCOLATE CLAY

Another black and white duo, this time from Florida - "Chocolate" is the black guy's nickname (presumably referring to his colour), so i assumed his white buddy's monicker was also inspired by his pallor, but it turns out that's his given first name (surname is Cropper, but don't know if he's related to Steve of MG's fame)

My Uncle Funky ****

Pretty good despite featuring a simple early drum machine

I Ain't Got Nothing To Say ***

I Ain't Mad At You **

 

 JOHN COOPER CLARKE

The punk poet a.k.a. the Salford Bard

Post-War Glamour Girl **

The backing track on this is actually quite well done. Unfortunately the only time I've been able to stomach JCC's grating tones is when he did the Honey Monster ads

 

 THE CLASH

Punk's working class heroes (despite having a son-of-a-diplomat and public-school-educated frontman)

Overpowered By Funk ***

I never much cared for the Clash, and despise them even more now due to "legendary" status bestowed on them by the rock press - in my opinion Joe Strummer was possibly the least talented vocalist (the word "singer" wouldn't be appropriate here) ever to bellow into a microphone. Yet despite all that and the fact that they make the primal error of playing this track too fast and frantically, I still quite like it

 

 CLOUD

One of those early 80's Brit jazz-funk outfits

All Night Long **

Rushed effort not helped by awful production. The catalog number for this single was FUNK1 - if only they'd applied that much attention to detail when it came to the music

 

 JOE COCKER

Mr Gruff

Woman To Woman ***

Musical backing by members of Kokomo (see below)

 

 DENNIS COFFEY

Motown and West-coast session guitarist (probably booked when Larry Carlton wasn't available!) - his early stuff was in a Blaxploitation-meets-Norman-Whitfield-manner (no surprise as he worked on some of Whitfield's Temptations sessions), later gravitating to a disco-soul fusion sound

Scorpio ****

Big City Funk **

There's a guitar solo on this that sounds not so much big city as country yee-haa

Gimme That Funk *

Gimme what funk? Actually not-very-good rocky disco

Live Wire ***

Might just have nudged another star but for disco-style octave bass breaks

Some Like It Hot **

the bass-playing is sluggish (and sounds out of tune), and the drummer keeps speeding up!

Wild Child **

One of those odd ones where the bass sounds like it's in a different key to everything else going on

Finger Lickin' Good ***

Finger lickin' alright but not that good

Funk Connection **

Only connects at certain times and the tone of his soloing guitar is a right turn-off

Enter The Dragon ***

Tom Scott-styled take on the classic Bruce Lee film theme

 

 COKE

Latin-popsters

Na Na ****

 

 COLD BLOOD

One of those rock/soul bands with horn sections that briefly flourished in the late 60's/early 70's

Kissing My Love ****

Apparently a Janis Joplin song (!) - probably would have scored the full monty, but the lyric/melody rather irritatingly puts emphasis in the wrong place i.e. "Kissing MY love"

Shop Talk **

The electric piano sounds odd in tone, and like it doesn't know what to do, and it's all a bit messy and meandering, but gets better when a Hammond organ kicks in

 

 COLLAGE

Early 80's American soul/funk outfit - presumably so named because of their mixed black/white/latino line-up, but they sound just like a typical large all-black ensemble from the tail end of the disco era

Do You Like Our Music? ****

Neat and precise disco-funk - think Cameo meets the Earth Wind & Fire horn section. Ditto the tracks below

Money In Your Pocket ***

Shake & Groove It ***

 

 STEVE COLT

From Boston - recorded for RCA

Dynamite ***

The white James Brown

 

 EL COMBO XINGU

Chilean combo

Hot Pants ****

JB time again, quite well done. 

 

 COMMANDOS

Anonymous group produced by an Aussie (or was it a Kiwi?)

The Bump ****

Virtual note-for-note copy of the Commodores cut, more than competently done. Probably no coincidence that the band name is almost identical too

Drop In Sometime ****

B-side of above 45 proves they can do originals well too, a jazz-funk instrumental workout that sadly fades out too soon. Did this lot ever make an album? If so, maybe a longer version is out there somewhere

 

 RAY CONNIFF

Easy orchestra leader and trombonist

Lowdown ***

Easy-fied but still grooving cover of Boz Scaggs' white funk classic

 

 BILLY CONRAD & SAM KEATON

Library music practitioners

Hot To Trot ***

Holy Maloney ***

 

 MIKE CONTEH BAND

Brother of world champion boxer John and associates

Jump The Gun ***

I may be jumping the gun here, but I wouldn't be surprised if the majority of musicians on this are white

 

 RY COODER

Much-admired roots/slide guitarist

Down In Hollywood *

I read an interview with Ry in which the author described this track as funk. They were wrong

 

 CORDUROY

Groovy postmodern ironists

Follow That Arab ***

Funky spy music

How To Steal The World ***

Nobody Move ***

Kinda BNH-like

Practice What You Preach ***

Very Yeah ***

More of that acid-jazz sound

 

 ALEC R. COSTANDINOS

Prolific euro-disco producer

Grooves ***

As funky as euro-disco is likely to get

 

 CRACKIN'

Sound like a poor (white) man's version of Earth Wind & Fire - produced by AOR mainstay (and once memorably referred to as an "Irish alien") Michael Omartian

I Can't Wait Forever **

The longer it goes on, the less funky it gets

Don't Cha Love Me **

A strange mix of mellow verses and tough (by their standards anyway) choruses

Double Love *

AOR and funk don't really that mix that well together, especially on the chorus of this

 

 PAPA JOHN CREACH

Veteran black violinist of Jefferson Airplane fame, so perhaps unsurprisingly some of his backing musicians were white

You Left Your Happiness **

Starts off promisingly, then gets a bit too much gospel-like for my liking

Right Down ***

OK funky backing but unfortunately Papa John can't really sing, and his country-style violin doesn't really fit either

Let's Get Dancin' **

Cheesy disco/funk hybrid

Enjoy ****

Quite enjoyable serving of southern-style funk

 

 CRIMSON TIDE

American AOR meets southern boogie band

Funky Side Of Town ***

Slick with a southern flavour, perhaps a bit too much of the latter as far as the singing and guitar solo are concerned

 

 SHERYL CROW

The thinking man's rock chick

Solidify ***

 

 CRY BABIES

Late 60's Brazilian crew - a multi-ethnic line-up... just like their celebrated national football team of the time (but there the comparisons end)

It's My Thing **

A cover of the James Brown/Marva Whitney track, although had it been sung in Portugese rather than English one would probably never have guessed

Kool And The Gang *

Abysmal version of the early eponymous Kool track

 

 GUY CUEVAS

Cuban-born Belgian-based DJ

Obsession ***

Sounds like 90's funky dance music 10 years ahead of its time. However Seńor Cuevas's probable only contribution (a rather fey rap/voiceover) is the weak link

 

 CULTURE CLUB

Boy George and his chums

Miss Me Blind ***

Would have gained at least another star if not saddled with 80's crunch-claps. Particularly good in the guitar solo that gives Ernie Isley a run for his money

White Boy *

 

 SYD DALE

Library music maestro

Time Out ****

Syd did loads of funky and groovy stuff, but this is the nearest he came to actual funk - borrows from the "For The Love of Money" classic bass riff

 

 DALTON & DUBARRI

Black and white duo - the white one wore black top hat and tails, the black one wore white top hat and tails. The black one played drums, the white one played everything else - probably explains why most of their album is mainstream American rock

Pretty Funky *

Not funky - it's actually a rhythm and blues shuffle

Hooker's Dolls **

The only thing remotely funky on their album, and even this has horrible rock bits in it (and it only lasts two minutes to boot)

 

 PINO D'ANGELO

Italian disco artist

Ma Quale Idea **

a terrible deep-voiced pseudo-rap over a rhythm track knocked-off from something that i can't quite put my finger on

 

 DANIEL JACKSON EXPLOSION

Italian studio collaboration between two guys credited with their surnames, hence listed under "D"

Hymn For Africa ****

Pretty good cod afro-funk effort with gospel overtones

 

 CHARLIE DANIELS

Country singer and fiddler

Funky Junky *

There is actually some funk guitar being played somewhere in this, but sadly it's buried by the tribal drumming and bottleneck licks

 

 RAY DAVIES

Just in case you were were wondering, not the Kinks head honcho, but he of the "funky" trumpet (see also Button Down Brass)

Down A Dark Street ***

Leagueliner **

Loose Collar Man **

A bit heavy-handed, with total mood-dispelling organ interludes

 

 JAN DAVIES & THE SPAIN GANG

Don't know anything about this lot other than the track below is available to download from Amazon...

Flamenco Funk *

... for those who want to waste their money!

 

 SAMMY DAVIS JR.

Yes, I know Old Blue Eyes' buddy was black...

Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow (Baretta's Theme) ****

...but this superb cop theme was written and produced by Dave Grusin

 

 RENE DE WAEL

Benelux (at a guess) library/production guy

Supersexion ***

Probably computer-generated but with a nice syncopated clavinet-style riff

 

 HENRYK DEBICH

Polish composer/arranger

See You At The Disco Tonight ***

The title probably loses something in translation. Features a nice flute solo but also some naff widdly-widdly guitar

Kameleon *****

This take on the jazz-funk standard features two things that Herbie Hancock's original doesn't: breathy flute and wah-wah guitar chops, thus making it irresistible

 

 BRIAN DEE & IRVING MARTIN

Provided the theme and some incidental music for "Return Of The Saint"

Funko *

Lazily and deceptively named - more like Rocko

Indianopolis ***

Clavinet riff features prominently as it does in other funky library music efforts

 

 DEEP NOTE

Music for porn films by anonymous contributors

Fuzzy Navel **

Greg's Groove Thing *

Neighborhood Toys ***

Rubber Balls And Liquor *****

Slip It In ***

Wet 'N' Wild ***

 

 RICK DEES

US DJ, comedian and entertainer, infamous for his "Disco Duck" parody (which if you ignore the silly vocals is almost funky enough for inclusion here)

Doctor Disco ****

A more appropriate title for this would be Frankenstein's Funk - musically sounds remarkably similar to what the Bar-Kays were putting out around this time (and a far from unflattering comparison). Flawed only by mad scientist cackling and cooing pigeon noises - if George Clinton had released something like this it would no doubt be hailed as yet another example of his wacky genius (oh, he did - it was called "Dr Funkenstein")

 

 THE DEIDRIE-WILSON TABAC

Late 60's gal & 2 guys combo

Get Back ***

Fab four funker

 

 GINO DENTIE AND THE FAMILY

Funky disco covers outfit fronted by Italian-American who later turned to acting

Express ***

Ramshackle version of the almost-eponymous BT Express number, but actually quite appealing for that

Movin' **

The horn lines on this Brass Construction cover seem to get out-of-sync at one point

Get Down Tonight *

Seems that everyone makes a right hash of this classic KC track (see below)

 

 DEODATO

Brazilian keyboardist/arranger/producer - went from bossa nova to jazz-funk-fusion to disco to Dexy's head honcho Kevin Rowland (!)

Whirlwinds *

Too long, too fast, too messy... and a horribly interminable guitar solo to boot

Funk Yourself ***

Wot, no "2001", I hear you ask? No, because although it's a funky groove, I say it's not close enough to the classic funk template for inclusion here. Ergo that goes for the numerous cover versions out there (the above Alyn Ainsworth interpretation excepted) that make it second only to "Theme From Shaft" in the funky covers stakes (see bottom of page for more info...)

Uncle Funk **

It's 1980, so more cocktail disco funk than the real thing - the main riff isn't bad but the rest is rubbish

I Shot The Sheriff ***

Yes, the old Bob Marley reggae standard - better than I thought it was going to be

 

 DIRECTIONS IN GROOVE

Modern funksters

The Favourite **

Has that "modern" sound

 

 DIS BONJOUR A LA DAME

90's multi-racial French outfit offering Soul II Soul-meets-acid jazz grooves

This Funk ***

This isn't too bad, but sadly like the above has the "modern" sound, which might work for acid jazz but not funk

 

 DISCO DUB BAND

The dude behind this was Davitt Sigerson, who later went on to be president of several major record companies

For The Love Of Money ***

Allegedly a cover of the O'Jays classic, although for the life of me I can't tell that - nice wah wah, but the open hi-hat starts to get on your nerves a bit after a while

For The Love Of Money (Disco Dub) **

Not so much a dub as a jam, featuring a horrible tuneless squealing sax solo

 

 THE DISCO EXPRESS

Anonymous British musicians (co-produced by Martin Rushent, who later achieved success with The Stranglers and The Human League) try to cash in on the popularity of disco and funk with an album of covers (called "Funky Stuff", although Kool & The Gang's track of the same name isn't featured), most of which doesn't begin to rival the original recordings

(7-6-5-4-3-2-1) Blow Your Whistle **

Frantic rehash of the Rimshots hit (also done by Gary Toms Empire - see below)

The Bump ***

It's all relative of course, but this is by far the best and funkiest track on the album - rather amusingly, whoever was responsible for this release was totally ignorant of the fact that this is a (mainly instrumental) cover of the Commodores tune as penned by Milan Williams, and have credited it to British pop-bubblegum stalwarts Martin & Coulter, who wrote Kenny's glam-lite hit of the same name

Get Down Tonight *

That's the Way I Like It *

Okay, you may argue that these two KC tracks are more disco than funk anyway, but whatever one thinks, these takes on them are absolutely abysmal

 

 DISCO PARTY

See Record Reviews Volume 10

Day Tripper ****

Express **

Do It (Til You're Satisfied) ***

Fire **

Despite a touch of wah wah, this cover of the Ohio Players' calling card just doesn't catch alight (ho ho), and like the Brothers version (see above) they've got the horn lines wrong  

 

 THE DIVERSIONS

Were briefly on the Gull label in the 70's (most famous for one-hit-wonder cod-reggae anthem "Barbados" by Typically Tropical)

But Is It Funky *****

When I encountered this stylish and immaculate take on funk on a disco compilation I knew nothing about this act. However, with lyrics like "But is it funky, or is it only rock 'n' roll?", my first thoughts were "Surely they've got to be white?" Further sleuthing has ascertained that they had a minor hit with a cover of Carl Malcolm's "Fattie Bum Bum" before switching from reggae to funk, and that new wave oddball Lene Lovich was among those involved - apparently they also recorded an album for Polydor that if ever released must be as rare as hen's teeth (put it out on CD now BMG!)

To Make Us Happy ****

I splashed out a fair bit for the 45 in the hope that the b-side was of a similar quality - fortunately a risk worth taking as it's a good brassy instrumental workout

 

 DOCTOR EXX BAND

Anonymous disco cash-in crew - also known in some quarters as Doc Powerhouse

Mountain Funk ***

The first of several attempts at funking up classical tunes, this one based on Greig's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" - once it gets past the tiresome business of the tune itself it actually gets quite interesting in a rocky cheesy way

 

 NED DOHENY

West-coast scener

To Prove My Love **

This one is incredibly frustrating - there's a strong groove going down, but to me the "one" seems to be in the wrong place (I used to have the same problem with Devo's version of "Satisfaction", but at least that's no longer in the "too hard" folder)

 

 THE DOOBIE BROTHERS

I remember being amused by the huge spliff on the inside sleeve of the then-current "Minute By Minute" LP. However at that time, in my ignorance I actually had no idea this West coast bunch were actually named after the joints they partook

Long Train Runnin' **

 

 DORIS

From Sweden - life beyond ABBA

Don't ***

A mark deducted for occasional intrusion of horrible Clappo-like guitar soloing

 

 DR. JOHN

New Orleans voodoo soul man - I know he gets raved about, but I don't care for him much for two reasons: 1 - he can't sing for toffee, 2 - he's backed by the Meters, who I've never really "got"

Quitters Never Win **

R U 4 Real **

Does Prince know the Doc got there first with using initials instead of words?

 

 URSZULA DUDZIAK

Elastic-larynxed Polish jazz vocalist - personal and professional collaborator of Michel Urbaniak (see below)

Lover ***

 

 CANDY DULFER 

Dutch smooth jazz-funk saxophonist who made a bit of a splash in the early 90's thanks to her photogenic good looks and the patronage of the Eurythmics' Dave Stewart

2 Funky *

Smooth jazz meets hip-hop, with only a (too) short break in the middle that vaguely qualifies as funk

Sax-A-Go-Go **

Ironically this is more funky than the previous effort but still has elements of hip-hop-ness about it

Jamming **

Not the Bob Marley tune but some cocktail funk with yet more tiresome hip-hop style "party" vibe going on 

My Funk **

Okay workout that is again cheapened by the hip hop drumming (and a rapper)

Pick Up The Pieces *

Yes it's the AWB classic, but sounds like it's all done my machines and is horrid - she does a much better version of this live these days

Get The Funk **

You won't get that much funk with such an obvious drum machine track

Get Funky ***

Sounds Tower of Power-like which I suppose is a compliment

Funkyness ***

 

 DURAN DURAN 

Brummie New Romantics

Fame *

Pretty dreadful take on the Bowie track

New Religion ***

I recently watched a documentary on the Duranies, and it featured a live clip of this which sounded pretty funky. Later heard the original recording which is not quite so funky (although I've also since come across a pretty decent funked-up late 80's live video recording on Youtube)

Notorious **

Hooked up with Chic guitarist/producer Nile Rodgers for this offering. Hamstrung by nasty mid-80's drum sound and (as with all their earlier stuff) Simon Le Bon's whiny trying-too-hard-to-sing-out-of his-range vocals

None Of The Above ***

Sin Of The City ***

Both of the above (from their comeback LP "The Wedding Album" which is actually quite good in my opinion) are decent pop tunes with light funk influence

 

 IAN DURY AND THE BLOCKHEADS

For some strange reason this much-loved mockney geezer is often mistakenly referred to as "Ian Drury"

Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll **

I recently caught a live version of this on the telly ("Rock Goes To College" from the Beeb's archives) and the band crank out a pretty funky arrangement of the main riff - much more so than on the original recording. However, the rest of it is still rock and roll (or to be more precise, twee music hall)

 

 D.V.A.

A.k.a. Clock DVA, Sheffield-based early 80's indie band

High Holy Disco Mass *

Hideous unholy funky mess

 

 THE EAGLES

Country-rock superstars

Funky New Year ****

Even though the guitars are quite rocky, this will surprise those who think the Eagles are all about plodding acoustic strumalong stuff a la "Lyin' Eyes". There's also a live version out there that features a horn section - the bad news is you have to acquire a 4-CD "Best of" boxset to hear it

 

 EAST HARLEM BUS STOP

Anonymous session crew masquerading as tough NY street-funkers, courtesy of Leo Muller and SGA

Let's Get It On ***

Surprisingly good in the instrumental bits - a mix of "Papa's Was A Rolling Stone" and the BT Express sound

Get On Down! **

BT Express's "Express" in all but name, except a lot worse

Bring It On Home *

 

 EAST OF UNDERGROUND

Won a US army band talent contest in Germany in the early 70's - going by a pic recently published in Record Collector magazine, at least one of them was white

Popcorn ***

This James Brown cover sure ain't no military march - more than competently done, but could have done without the drum solo though

 

 EASTSIDE CONNECTION

Disco outfit - quite a few of the names involved are Latino

Over Please ****

Busy funk work-out with a jazzy sax interlude

 

 EASY GOING

Italian disco project whose cover art was inspired (if not actually provided) by Tom of Finland - if you know who that is then you'll probably guess where they're coming from, but perhaps if another clue was needed their recordings came out (if you'll pardon the expression) on their own Banana Records label

Do It Again ***

Not the Steely Dan (or Beach Boys) tune but a slick slice of disco funk only let down by rather weedy vocals

 

 DANNY EDWARDSON

Library dude

Stuck In ***

library funk-rock

 

 EGBA

Swedish fusioneers

Takdropp ****

 

 ELECTRO KEYBOARD ORCHESTRA

Japanese fusioneers

The Heated Point ***

I think something may have got lost in translation with this title, but a good effort with weird synth noises making it a bit off-the-wall

 

 BRIAN ENO

Rock boffin (or perhaps more appropriately, egghead)

No One Receiving **

wouldn't sound out-of-place on an early Talking Heads album - no coincidence that he was producing them at that time

R. A. F. **

More art-funk

 

 THE EQUALS

60's multi-racial soul/pop outfit

Funky Funky *

I can imagine this going down well somewhere like the Wigan Casino, but as far as the funk's concerned there's no trace of it whatsoever

Funky Like a Train ***

Born Ya! **

Mystic Syster ***

Are You Ready For Me **

I think by this time the "band" may have just been just Eddy Grant in all but name, at which point he made the logical decision to go solo (and buy himself a plodding drum machine)

 

 ERGO BAND

Funky Poles

Past The Pile Of Piles ***

Quite well done but the strange female vocals make it a little unsettling

 

 EROTISSIMA

Music for Brazilian porno flicks (?)

Le Cuple ***

Very early-sounding groovy funk effort, complete with organ and fuzz guitar solos

 

 EURYTHMICS

The 80's synth-pop duo

Fame *

Non-funky and not-particularly-good electro-synth version of the Bowie song

 

 STEVE EVERITT

Library music chap

Dr Tilt *****

Probably computer-generated, but still sublime

 

 JEAN-PIERRE FABIEN

Un homme de musique bibliotheque (that's my no-doubt incorrect stab at saying "library music man" in French)

Come On Dance **

Euro-disco flavoured funk

Soulful Funk ***

If Steve Wonder heard this intro he'd sue for blatant plagiarising of "Superstition"

Funky Beat ***

This time it's Kool and the Gang's briefs who should be alerted (some of the horn lines are practically pinched from "Open Sesame")

 

 DONALD FAGEN

Steely Dan man goes solo

Countermoon ***

Mary Shut The Garden Door ***

Trans-Island Skyway ***

Teahouse On The Tracks ****

The best of the Don's artful forays intro funk

 

 FAIRPORT CONVENTION

The musical equivalent of real ale

Cropredy Capers ****

Probably an ad-hoc jam, this really grooves for a couple of minutes, until the fiddle-scraper threatens to turn it into "Day Trip To Bangor"

 

 ANDY FAIRWEATHER LOW

Helium-voiced singer of Amen Corner - later had a moderate solo career

Jump Up And Turn Around *

The clavinet and horn lines are quite good. Unfortunately the rest is rubbish, including Andy's totally-unsuited voice

Grease It Up **

An intro with wah-wah and more clavinet indicates some promise, but Andy ruins things whenever he opens his mouth - his singing (or to be more accurate, wailing) really is most unattractive

 

 PERCY FAITH

Canadian easy-listening veteran

Theme From A Summer Place **

Funked-up re-rec of his classic - has a good basic riff which is unfortunately spoilt by the tune

Chompin' ****

Perhaps a little disco-oriented, but still great orchestrated funk

Sha Bumpin' **

Rocked-up funk with guitar solos - Percy's fans must have had a coronary hearing this

Hill Where The Lord Hides ***

Never mind the odd title - this sounds like it belongs in one of those Charles Bronson action movies, complete with Herbie Hancock-style electric piano solo

 

 F.B.I.

UK 70's soul combo

F.B.I. *****

Free Prison ***

Good basic groove but it veers off-course a few times. Also overly heavy lyrical matter puts you off a bit (well, me anyway)

Bad Deal ***

Ditto to the above

Keep On Running **

No, not the Spencer Davis tune, but funk-rock that indeed keeps on running for 9 minutes plus, long outstaying any welcome it had in the first place

Talking About Love ***

A couple of excellent funk breaks here, but the rest (ballad meets blaxploitation) isn't so good

Get That Ball ****

 

 FEDERATION

Faceless pop/soul studio concoction

Gimme That Sweet Sweet Magic *

I bought this 45 off Discogs on the basis that it was tagged as funk - the only remotely funky thing about it is the clavinet line, and even that's leadenly played

 

 FEDERATION OF THE DISCO PIMP

Glaswegian funk/fusion band along the lines of Tower of Power

Gimme Some Light **

Like most contemporary funk recordings, apart from having everything processed and whacked-up to the max, they also make the mistake of using a really f*cking horrible bright and pingy snare (sorry for swearing but that really gets my goat) - listen to the original records guys, and you'll find that no one (apart from The Meters, who I don't care for anyway) used that sound!

 

 JOSE FELICIANO

Earnest Latino singer/acoustic guitarist, best known for his interpretation of others' songs

I've Got A Feeling ****

Another intro that's a dead-ringer for "Superstition" - otherwise pretty good

Sweet Street ***

No Jive ***

Interesting funk/reggae hybrid that's spoilt a bit by Jose doing a "Clappo" on guitar

 

 BRYAN FERRY

Roxy Music's sultan of suave

Sensation ***

Ferry's funk is as smooth and sophisticated as the man himself

 

 PIOTR FIEGEL ENSEMBLE

Polish Orchestra

Agent 008 ****

This would have got full marks had they dropped the irritating (and superfluous) lead vocal and pistol-shooting effects

 

 TIM FINN

Kiwi ex-Crowded House dweller

You've Changed ****

 

 FIRE

Latino hombres

Flight To Cuba **

 

 ELLIOTT FISHER

US violinist and orchestral arranger

Money ****

Not the old Berry Gordy tune but a tasty instrumental version of The O'Jays track that has now probably become just as recognisable thanks to its bassline (done on guitar here)

 

 5000 VOLTS

70's poppy disco venture that featured a succession of female vocalists (including Tina Charles at one point)

Thunderfire **

All-too-obviously popsters having a go at being funky, despite the semi-tough vocal chant. The weird dreamy disco interludes don't help

You're Looking Good ****

Some might say this was disco rather than funk, but thanks to the clavinet and especially the nagging guitar line it's sounding good to me

 

 FLINTLOCK

Resident band on 70's ITV kids' comedy progammes such as "Pauline's Quirkes", featuring a young Pauline Quirke (surprise) and her fellow Cockney and "Birds of a Feather" china (plate, mate) Linda Robson. I used to really enjoy watching these shows and in particular the band, who seemed more than competent for their age - I remember actually giving a cheer when I saw they had made the top 30 chart rundown on TOTP (although sadly, they never got higher than 30)

Got My Eye On You **

When you take into account that when this was recorded the average age of the band was around 16, it isn't actually too bad - like a lighter version of Stretch's "Why Did You Do It?" (see below)

 

 FLOWERS & COX

Library music guys

Snapper ***

80's-style funk workout with Sanborn-alike sax over it

 

 THE FLYING LIZARDS

Post-punk minimalists. The legend was that their (novelty) hit cover "Money" only cost a tenner to record. As a teenager I remember this being played to coffin-dodgers at some seaside resort on the revived Juke Box Jury. Unsurprisingly they considered it a racket - a view I first shared, but I love it nowadays, especially the howling backing vocals

Sex Machine **

James Brown's seminal tune gets the "Money" treatment, with the spare (deliberately?) clunky backing and the apathetic "Sloan Ranger" talking vocal - was all their material done in this manner? You can't really take it seriously, but it's still better than Iggy Pop's version (see below)

 

 AIRTO FOGO

Alias for classically-trained Frenchman Sylvain Krief, now prominent on the Canadian arts scene in an administrative capacity

High Stakers ****

Like on most these tracks, plenty of horns and moog action

Right On Bird ***

Tuesday In Jackson ***

Satine Dog ****

Just Over ***

Jungle Bird ***

Black Soul ***

 

 THE FORCE

Disco act signed to Philly Int.

Dirty Dog **

Very discofied and frantic with naff barking noises

 

 MARTYN FORD (ORCHESTRA)

UK orchestral arranger who tried to cash in on the disco scene with only modest success

Sneakin' Up Behind You ***

Sneaky copycat cover of the Brecker Brothers tune, right down to the squelchy bass line

Happy People **

Released at the height of disco, but just about enough about it for inclusion here

 

 BOBBY FORRESTER

American soul-jazz organist - white equivalent of Jimmy McGriff, Richard Groove Holmes, etc

Sanford And Son ****

Adaptation of the theme tune to America's version of "Steptoe And Son", with a great organ-led jam in the middle

Uncle Funky ****

Another grooving track from the rare "Organist" LP with wah-wah a plenty

 

 FOUR IN LEGION

80's US rockers

Party In My Pants **

Red Hot Chili Peppers-style funk rock

 

 FOX

Quirky 70's pop concoction fronted by a femme fatale who you could say was a fox in more ways than one (now hailed by the download generation as "the original Goldfrapp")

S-S-S-Single Bed **

S-S-S-Slightly funky

S-S-S-Single Bed ****

S-S-S-Surprisingly, despite being recorded a lot quicker and cheaper (and with the same musicians) this "Top of the Pops" version grooves a hell of a lot more than the official recording

 

 RENZO FRAIESE

Could be black, could be white, my guess is Latino

12 Engle Street ****

Driving fusion-style groove

 

 FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD

Controversial band that was the first to feature openly gay members (or was that Bronski Beat?)

Relax **

I'm referring to the original demo that was performed on "The Tube", before they got a record deal with Trevor Horn who then transformed and smoothed it into electronic dance - this raw version is much funkier (but a point deducted for a speeded-up middle section that sounds like a completely different song)

 

 FREEEZ

Early 80's Brit jazz-funkers turned electro-poppers

Southern Freeez ***

More disco than funk really

Flying High *

Anything else of promise on this is totally wiped out by the OTT slap bass

Keep in Touch **

Another one where the bass player tries too hard - if he had played a simpler riff he might have been more locked in the groove

 

 FRESH

Late 70's aggregation with black and white members but musically pretty much mainstream rock

Preparation **

 

 HIROSHI FUKAMURA

Japanese geezer

Hunt Upwind ****

Smooth jazz-funk

 

 FUNK FACTORY

US project helmed by Polish jazzer Michal Urbaniak - Fusion Factory would have been a more appropriate name

Rien Ne Va Plus ***

Polished groove (not an intentional pun) interrupted too often by a breakdown segment that adds nothing at all

Watusi Dance ***

Would benefit from editing out the more twiddly bits

Funk It *

If you're going to use such an obvious and crass title, then at least make music to justify it

 

 FUNK 'N' STEIN

Israeli funk revivalists

Come And Join Me ***

That's Funk ***

Funky Mission ***

Funkey **

 

 THE FUNK REVIVAL ORCHESTRA

Contemporary crew based in Oakland, California - just as likely to do latin or acid jazz-style grooves as funk

FRO Instrumental Theme ***

 

 FUNKAPOLITAN

Much-hyped but short-lived offshoot of the New Romantic scene. Even if they had real talent, their choice of name (presumably because they were into funk and had a cosmopolitan i.e. black and white line-up) doomed them from having a substantial career

As The Time Goes By **

Hype and a hot producer (August Darnell a.k.a. Kid Creole, who was probably the hippest dude on the planet at that point) can't mask feeble vocals and a banal virtually non-existent tune - small wonder it failed to become a big hit. The hideously-dated huge snare (probably cutting edge when recorded) doesn't exactly help either

Understandably Flattering *

Not flattering in the slightest

War **

Backing track is okay, but the street-style jive/rap isn't

In The Crime Of Life **

Run Run Run **

 

 FUNKHOUSE

Funk-rock band from Chicago, at a guess active in the 90's

Get On Down **

Johnny Drughead **

We Want The Funk *

We get the rock instead

 

 FUNKIN' MARVELLOUS

Not a band but a record label set up to try and exploit the already passé Euro/Brit jazz-funk scene - among other things they released this complilation:

Funkin' Marvellous *

Funkin' awful

 

 THE FUNKY BOYS

Backing crew of black Barbadian singer Linda (Fields, who was also a Miss World contestant) who had a couple of minor pop-soul hits in Blighty in the mid-70's

Solid Funk **

The band's name makes you suspect that not only are there white guys involved, but ones for whom English is not their mother tongue - and so it proves as the man behind this is German Detlef Peterson (a.k.a. Dan Patterson in some quarters)... therefore perhaps unsurprisingly this instrumental effort is more lumpy than solid, and there's a touch of disco about it with its glossy string machine lines - it might have gained a third star had the title not been no crass

Out And About ***

Sounds like mildly-funky library music... which it probably is

 

 FUNKY FAMILY

70's German crew

Bump The Bump *

They might have been aiming for funky disco, but this is closer to Schlager

 

 FUNKY FAMILY

80's Italo-disco project

Funky Is On *

Funky is NOT on, as this is completely funk-free electro-dance track that is okay if you like that kind of thing, but borrows rather too freely from Queen's "Radio Ga Ga" for comfort (did Roger Taylor ever find out about this?)

 

 FUTURE SHOCK

Another one those contemporary funk revivalist bands

Soul Party ***

If you edit out the rubbish choruses and ignore the handclaps then it's fairly listenable

 

 PATSY GALLANT

Canadian AOR chanteuse

It'll All Come Around ****

 

 GALLIANO

Acid-jazzers

Skunk Funk *

Not-very-good acid jazz

 

 GANG OF FOUR

Lauded by the music press as the personification of punk-funk. I saw them in 1978 (as a last minute support for Siouxsie & the Banshees) and was quite impressed. However I was disappointed when I recently listened to a greatest hits compilation - whatever funkiness they had was offset by the highly irritating vocalist

I Love A Man In A Uniform **

More polished than their earlier stuff - shame about the 80's crunching snare/handclap beats

 

 GANG'S BACK

Californian Latinos mining the early 80's soul/dance/r&b sound

Hot Fun ***

 

 GARCIA'S SUPER FUNK

Floridian (?) Latinos moonlighting from Foxy

Superfunk **

Main groove just about suffices, but could do without the cat-walking-on-the-piano playing (and even worse) cod-spaghetti western breaks

 

 MAC GAYDEN

All-purpose singer songwriter and guitarist, tackling anything from soul to folk to country

Steppin' Stone ***

A weird combination of funk and mbira (Earth, Wind & Fire are not the only practitioners!)

 

 GAZ

Creation of Scandinavian disco producer Thor Baldursson

Sing Sing ***

Yes it's funk, but in a very slick disco style

 

 RENEE GEYER BAND

From the land down under

Really Really Love You ***

Sounds like a rock outfit doing their token funk number - not bad though

 

 DIZZY GILLESPIE

The legendary blowfish-cheeked jazz trumpeter - yes, he's black, but the mastermind behind these tracks was soundtrack supremo Lalo Schifrin

Fire Dance **

A little quick, probably more disco than funk

Free Ride ****

Ozone Madness ***

Wrong Number ****

 

 THE GLITTER BAND

Gary Gl*tter's glam-rock backing group

Makes You Blind ****

Tuna Biscuit *****

See Record Reviews Volume 10 for both the above

 

 GOBLIN

Italian prog-rockers - also supplied soundtracks to cult horror movies

Snip Snap ****

 

 GODCHILD

French fusion outfit

Retour De Flamme ***

Pas Un Brin De Vent **

A decent enough groove, but a star deducted for an appalling and incongruous "Penny Lane"-like section in the middle (cue sound editor!)

Perdigouna ***

 

 DAVE GOLD

Another library music guy

City Police ***

Takes a while to get going but worth the wait

 

 GONZALEZ

70's Latin-soul-funk collective - black, white, and in-between participated

No Way ****

Way

Funky Frith Street ***

Unfortunately lasts for less than 2 minutes

Pack It Up ***

Underground Railroad ***

Just Let It Lay ***

Tear Down The Business ***

Got My Eye On You *

Sounds more Northern Soul than funk

Rissoled *****

Strangely there are two mixes of this instrumental, one featuring a cowbell and the other congas

DNS ***

A hard funk riff which the vocals of Lenny Zakatek can't compete with

People's Party ***

Firmly in the disco firmament by now but funky enough for here

Dance Machine **

Even more disco-like but still traces of funkiness

 

 THE GOODIES

When not riding around on their 3-seater bike, this 70's comedy trio indulged themselves in cutting several albums of musical pastichery (it would never happen today). Musical mastermind Bill Oddie was a big funk fan, and never turned down an opportunity to contribute his own variety

The Cricklewood Shakedown ***

Similar to "The Funky Gibbon" but a bit better

Goodies Theme ***

Funky theme that was sadly replaced by a far inferior rock version - maybe it wasn't considered funny enough by the Beeb

The Funky Gibbon **

Great riff in the intro, but the silliness dominates thereafter

Funky Farm *

Beware - this is just some loops with silly farm animal noises on it, and is a funk-free zone

Photo-Fit ****

See Record Reviews Volume 10

Ride My Pony ****

Presumably modelled on Lee Dorsey's "Ride Your Pony" but is actually funkier, and the lyrics don't distract either

 

 GRANDMOTHER'S FUNCK

90's Swiss jazz-funk fusioneers. What an awful name - is it a pun of some kind, or is it a lost-in-translation thing (like the unfortunately-monickered German and Japanese heavy metal bands "Bonfire" and "Loudness")

Call Me ***

When She Said Goodbye Forever **

Julio's Bounce **

Ain't No Makin' Whoopee Anymore **

 

 STEVE GRAY

Library music keyboard player - one time member of Sky

Light My Fire ***

OK library funk - why did he have to use the Doors' title?

 

 THE GREAT DISCO BOUZOUKI BAND

Zorba the Greek with a disco beat

Greek Girls *

Zorba the Greek with a funky beat - as bad as it sounds

Ouzo And Retsina ***

Zorba the Greek with a funky beat - not as bad as it sounds

 

 JOHNNY GREEN AND THE GREENMEN

Long-running US cabaret act - have apparently entertained American Presidents

Inside Out ****

 

 CAROL GRIMES

Coarse-voiced regular on the 70's London live circuit

Uphill Piece Of Mind ***

 

 GROOTNA

Pysch/folk group with links to Country Joe & the Fish, Jefferson Airplane and Blood Sweat & Tears

I'm Funky **

 

 GROOVE COLLECTIVE

90's ethnically diverse New-York based er, collective. They pretty much deliver on their promise, although the grooves are usually more disco/latin/acid jazz/fusion than funk

Everybody ****

Jay Wrestles the Boa Constrictor ***

 

 THE GROOVE TRAIN

80's pop "supergroup" project featuring members of Heaven 17, Haircut 100 and The Style Council

Why Did You Do It **

80's retread of the Stretch hit (see below) with obligatory massive reverbed gated snare that was cool at the time but now sounds really naff - why did they do it?

 

 DAVE GRUSIN

Jazz-fusion pianist and co-founder of the smooth jazz label GRP. Also done loads of soundtrack work

Condor! *****

From the "Three Days of the Condor" original soundtrack. I saw this described on a website as "white funk", which was probably a motivating factor in putting this feature together. The soundtrack has some other great funky grooves, but unfortunately they don't last very long - why couldn't Grusin have done a Henry Mancini/Lalo Schifrin and re-recorded it for the pop market? Unfortunately, when he finally did, it was too late (see below) 

Condor! **

Re-recording on one of Grusin's own commercial albums, longer than the original, but despite probably featuring many of the same players (such as black session drummer Harvey Mason) is let down by dreadful 80's production

Out To Lunch With The CIA ****

A composite of two "Condor" soundtrack pieces that I've mixed together (they would both last for under a minute otherwise)

Fuzz ***

The theme for a little-remembered Burt Reynolds movie - the main riff is fantastic but there's not much of it, and what there is is hampered by sound effects and a fuzz guitar breakdown. Again, as far as I know sadly Grusin never made a version for the commercial market when the film was released

 

 THE HAGGIS HORNS

Scottish ex-pats based in Leeds - known for backing singer Corinne Bailey Rae

The Traveller (Part Two) ****

Hypnotic discofied funk instrumental groove that unlike other contemporary recordings actually sounds like it was done in the 70's

The Traveller (Part One) ***

Only slightly resembles the above - actually more of a classic funk style, yet unlike Part Two sounds more obviously recorded recently

Enter The Haggis ***

Their own slower and funkier take on "Enter The Dragon"

 

 PERRY HAINES

Early 80's co-founder of style-bible "ID Magazine" and general all-round mover and shaker. As a producer, his legacy to pop was that archetypal (and god-awful) 80's big-hair band King - thanks Perry!

What's Funk *

Not only is Perry's cod-cockney hobson's (choice, voice) insufferable, but the musical backing is pretty stilted too. Amazingly, it turns out to be provided by black British musicians Bluey of Incognito plus various members of Central Line, who prove you don't have to be white to play funk badly

What's What **

Dub version of the above, a little more palatable for the fact that Perry's vocal contribution is mercifully limited

 

 HAIRCUT 100

Early 80's boy-next-door types in chunky knitwear. Actually proclaimed as "the new Beatles" at one point (!)

Favourite Shirts **

Frantic funk of the skinniest white-boy variety

Kingsize ***

Again rather frenetic, but some nice instrumental interludes. The best of this bunch by a hair's breadth

Love's Got Me In Triangles **

At last they've slowed the tempo, but it's still all a bit too jolly

Calling Captain Autumn **

Baked Bean *

Boat Party **

Ski Club **

Fish In A Bowl ***

This and the rest listed below are from the Nick Heyward-less second album that completely flopped. This has a great brassy riff but the awful chorus sounds like a completely different song and doesn't fit at all (weed it out with the trusty old sound editor!) - there is a longer version of this around with an extended breakdown that is worth looking for

High Noon **

Starts off with impressive (if dated) bass work, but then somewhat bizarrely mutates into Mariachi music... and then into cod-reggae!

Prime Time **

Sounds like a budget version of Level 42

Infatuation **

 

 ERWIN HALLETZ

German easy guy and soundtrack composer

Das Studenhotel Von St Pauli ***

 

 HARCO PRONT

Seriously weird dude - all his songs are about a minute long

Night **

Better **

Both sound like an off-kilter version of Prince

 

 HARLEM POP TROTTERS

French experimental/fusion group

Cache Catch ***

 

 JOHNNY HARRIS

Scottish orchestra leader and arranger - later moved to LA to score among other things the music for "Buck Rogers"

Odyssey **

Not sure if Johnny was trying to do jazz-funk, disco, or even prog (or perhaps trying to mix them all together) on this rather laboured drum-heavy track that sadly doesn't have any orchestral instrumentation for which he was renowned, instead featuring non-stop tiresome synth solos that even someone like Jan Hammer would consider too self-indulgent

 

 ALAN HAWKSHAW

Legendary (in some quarters, anyway) session organ-grinder and library music composer - did the themes for "Countdown" and "Grange Hill"

Hawkwind and Fire **

Rather staid effort, not as good as punning title suggests. Also no sign of organ

Fuel Injection ****

Again no organ, but electric piano, synths, and a killer clavinet riff are all lobbed in

 

 HEADS TOGETHER

Glam-styled early 70's pub/cabaret act - released a self-financed album of mainly covers from their set, as bands of that ilk did in those days

Funky Stuff ***

An extra mark for even attempting to cover the Kool & The Gang anthem, but heads start to roll as it struggles to hang together

 

 HEATWAVE

This mixture of black Americans and white Europeans are wrongly destined to go down in history as disco dudes - they weren't, they were a soul band that sometimes got funky. Rather strangely, they were produced by ex-glamster Barry Blue

Boogie Nights *****

For this alone, ace songwriter Rod Temperton should get a knighthood - arise, Sir Rodney! No, make that Lord Temperton of Cleethorpes!

The Groove Line ****

Too Hot To Handle ***

Slip Your Disc To This **

Razzle Dazzle ***

Aint No Half Steppin' ***

Super Soul Sister **

Might have earned another star if it didn't have an odd double-time rock 'n' roll-style break in it

Beat Your Booty **

Therm Warfare **

There's a great groove in there somewhere, but like much of their stuff it's masked by slick (over) production

Party Poop ***

 

 PETER HERBOLZHEIMER

Rumanian (of ethnic German ancestry?) jazz trombonist who moved to the Fatherland where he had a long career as an arranger and bandleader, mainly in the Maynard Ferguson big band/fusion mould

Superstition ****

Well arranged and performed take on Stevie W's tune, featuring vocals by Inga Rumpfe (thankfully in English) and some tasty electric piano noodling

The Catfish ***

Synth-heavy workout that teeters on the edge of fusion indulgence

 

 WOODY HERMAN

Veteran jazz clarinet player and bandleader

Fanfare For The Common Man *

This funked-up cover of Aaron Copland's tune was released around the same time as Emerson Lake and Palmer's driving rock interpretation - the fact is that I'd rather listen to ELP's version given the choice, which may give you some idea of how bad Woody's take is

 

 THE HIGSONS

Early 80's indie band now primarily noted for having eponymous vocalist and going-on-to-be-famous comedian and writer Charlie Higson (known as "Switch" at that point) among their ranks

Put The Punk Back Into The Funk *

Is this a case of neither fish nor fowl, or falling between two stools?

I Don't Want To Live With Monkeys **

Fast and frantic - a kind of hard-core version of Haircut 100

Conspiracy **

Ditto the above

Touch Down ***

At last they've taken their foot off the accelerator... and all the better for it

 

 STEVE HILLAGE

Spaced-out hippy

Unidenitifed ***

The drummer (and producer) on this is Pink Floyd's Nick Mason - whoever thought such a plodder could get funky?

 

 TERUMASA HINO

Another in the vanguard of what has become known as "Jap jazz" (or more accurately, Jap jazz-funk fusion)

Send Me Your Feelings ****

Tasty jazzy funky disco

 

 CHRIS HINZE

Dutch fusion flautist

Bamboo Funk *

Chris's band try hard to work up some kind of groove for him to trill over, but despite the introduction of a wah-wah halfway through it's still not exactly what I'd call funk

Bamboo Magic ***

Decent groove accentuated by some tootin' flutin' but diminished by girly vocals - worth an extra star if the fusion-style breaks are edited out (as I've managed)

 

HIPNOSIS

British early 80's jazz-funkers

Shaping Up **

Like a harder but messier version of Shakatak

 

 HONKY

Somebody asked me why I thought this disco-era group might be white - I pointed out their name appeared to be pretty self-explanatory (later confirmed when i saw them on a rerun of TOTP 1977). Some of their stuff was produced by Ken Gold, the man behind The Real Thing's hits

Join The Party ***

Funky Time, Party Time ****

Trite lyrics ("Party Time! Find a lady") may have stopped this from scoring top marks

Can't Sit Down ***

Drags a bit and also not helped by the cod-mid-Atlantic spoken vocal drawl (they came from Southampton according to Jimmy Savile on that TOTP show), and what with the title and references about going to see the doctor, it sounds like they're suffering from a touch of the old farmer giles! (piles, for those not familiar with mockney rhyming slang)

 

 HOOKFOOT

early 70's UK rockers

Sweet Sweet Funky Music *

The Opener ***

See Record Reviews Volume 10 for both the above

 

 HOT BUTTER

Moog-manipulators

Space Walk ****

See Record Reviews Volume 10

Getting Off ****

Even funkier blaxploitation-like re-arrangement of the above - only denied top marks by too many breakdowns

Getting On ****

Part 2 of "Getting Off" and more of the same with added organ

 

 HOT CHOCOLATE

Old smoothie (in more ways than one) Errol Brown and his black and white colleagues - had consistent singles chart success in the UK throughout the 70's with their lightweight brand of pop-soul (and later disco)

Heaven's In The Back Seat Of My Cadillac **

Tougher and funkier than their normal output but as usual seems to be lacking in some way

 

 HOT CUISINE

Early 80's UK dance act

Who's Been Kissing You? ***

Funk-tinged dance effort comparable with US releases from the same era - produced by Biddu and co-written with British pop-soul mainstay Ron Roker

 

 HOT ICE

Don't know anything about this lot so it's a pure guess they're white

Boogie Joogie **

Sounds like BT Express or Brass Construction on a bad day

 

 HOUSEBAND

Funking Dutchmen

Giving Up Food For Funk **

Clogged-up cover of the JB's tune

House Party **

Not the Fred Wesley tune but an original effort - they try hard but things just don't quite click

 

 HUDSON-FORD

Splinter group from folk-rockers The Strawbs

Are You Dancing *

Not so much a go at funk as a rather obvious attempt to leap aboard the disco bandwagon

 

 MARSHA HUNT'S 22

American frontlady Marsha (the inspiration for the Stones' "Brown Sugar") is black, but the band/backing musicians were white Brits

(Oh No Not!) The Beast Day ****

Afrobeat funk

 

 ROD HUNTER

"The King Of The Moog" who applied the treatment to cover versions whilst the sound was still just about marketable as a novelty item

Soul Makossa **

Not that much actual Moog on this cover of Manu Dibango's hit and what there is pretty tame, and the drummer makes hard work of it at times

 

 LES HURDLE

Session/library bassist

Soul Train ***

There's a horn riff on this that sounds very similar to that on Kool and The Gang's "Jungle Boogie" to my ears, but Les says it's all his own work - must be a case of great minds thinking alike

 

 DICK HYMAN

American all-purpose keyboardist

Give It Up Or Turn It Loose ****

Wacky but inspired cover of a JB tune that drums apart, consists entirely of Moogs

 

 IMPACT OF BRASS

One of the few white acts signed to Motown

How To Groove **

A post-Motown effort that starts off okay then gets a bit messy

 

 THE IMPELLERS

Brighton-based contemporary funk outfit - highly thought-of by actor, DJ and funk enthusiast Craig Charles

The Knock Knock ***

Not so highly thought-of by me - just another modern act that have all the pieces but can't quite put it together properly like they used to

Fire **

Not the Ohio Players track

The Chang **

How Am I **

Be Ready **

I Predict A Riot *

I've never heard the original by the Kaiser Chiefs which I assume is a big favourite of the "yoof" of today, but going by this it obviously doesn't lend itself to being funked up

 

 INCREDIBLE BONGO BAND

Apparently LA session musos having some fun on their nights off

Okey Dokey ***

Sharp Nine ***

 

 INDEEP

NYC DIY dance project

Last Night A DJ Saved My Life ***

Everyone knows this 80's club classic. Not everyone knows the guy behind it (who also did the rap) was white

 

 NICK INGMAN

Library/session and general all-round muso - arranging talents sadly later wasted on indie neanderthals Oasis

Down Home ***

Starts off really well, but then doesn't really go anywhere

 

 INNER CITY EXPRESS

One of the last things leading UK soul/disco arranger Gerry Shury was involved in before his untimely death

Fat On Funk *****

Slick and shiny but still top-class funk

 

 THE INTELLIGENTS

I know nothing about this band other than they were around in the late 70's, but judging from their lyrics they perhaps didn't take themselves that seriously

Take It From The Top **

A strange mix of funk, electro, pop, and eurodisco

 

 INTERPLANETARY SOUND WORKSHOP

Cashed in on the hugely popular "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" film and soundtrack

Close Encounters ***

Interesting if patchy funked-up version of the theme

 

 THE INVERSIONS

Part of the early 80's Brit-jazz-funk scene

Incognito ***

Loco-Moto **

Mr. Mack ***

 

 JABBA

UK 70's funksters

Super bad ***

Super fast JB cover - the lead singer sounds a bit like David Byrne of Talking Heads (!)

 

 JAGUAR

Icelandic funk combo of fairly recent vintage

One Of Us ***

Unlike most contemporary recordings a great "vintage" drum sound, but overall a little too cute for its own good

 

 MICK JACKSON

Wacko and his bro's covered the tune below elevating it to "disco classic" - both similarly-credited versions were in the charts at the same time which probably greatly confused the Great British record-buying public

Blame It On The Boogie **

The original is actually very light funk as opposed to disco. By the way, if you ever get to see the TOTP performance, check out Mick's guitarist (and brother) - he's really getting into it

 

 DALE JACOBS

Canadian fusion keyboardist

Freedom ***

Sounds like the sort of thing Bob James would do in his sleep... or rather I should say David Sanborn, as the lead is taken by a sax throughout rather than Dale's keys

 

 J.A.L.N. BAND

Black British soul/disco outfit. So why are they here? Because by the time they did the track below they had got themselves a white horn section, which just about qualifies them for inclusion

Say Say Say ***

 

 THE JAM

Mod revivalists

Precious **

Santana's "Jingo" with a slightly funky makeover, for which the Modfather's belligerent vocals are totally unsuited. The bass isn't much better

 

 BOB JAMES

Vying with Dave Grusin for the title of king of smooth jazz

One Mint Julep ***

Storm King ***

Tappan Zee ***

Westchester Lady ****

Perhaps a touch over-orchestrated at times, but still tougher than his usual output

 

 JIMMY JAMES

Heavyweight black Jamaican ska singer who came over to Blighty and hooked up with Biddu and white backing musicians to crack the UK soul scene

Disco Fever **

The title and lyrics are an early attempt to capitalise on the disco boom. The music is somewhat fast 'n' furious funky fever with an overstated squelchy bass

If You Think That Funk Is Junk You're Drunk ***

Not bad, but not as good as title suggests

 

 PRESTON JAMES

An alias for James De Wolfe, presumably part of the De Wolfe library music empire

Double Shuffle **

This is basically a jam with a drummer, a funky bass riff and some bluesy guitar solos - shame it wasn't developed a bit more as it could have turned out quite nicely

 

 THE JAMES GANG

Heavy rock power trio featuring a pre-Eagles Joe Walsh

Funk #48 **

The drummer gives it some but Walsh's guitar sound is all wrong - you just can't funk with Hendrix-style distortion! They may well be aping Sly and the Family Stone but it's wasted on me as Sly isn't my cup of tea

Funk #49 *

Another one where the word funk is taken in vain

 

 JAMIROQUAI

The much-maligned "prat in the hat" and sidekicks. If you analyse their stuff more closely, you'll find that it generally has relatively little classic funk content, but then again, you can say the same about Stevie Wonder, who they're oft-accused of being a poor zerox copy of. Here's the nearest I could find (and even that's questionable):

Hooked Up ***

Mr Moon ***

 

 CHAS JANKEL

Ian D(r)ury's musical right-hand man who later went solo into dance territory

Johnny Funk *

Plenty of references to funk in the lyrics but no trace of it in the music

 

 JAPAN

70's unfashionable glam-metal merchants turned 80's cool New Romantic pretty boys - flirted with funk more in their early days

Adolescent Sex **

Wish You Were Black **

The Unconventional ***

Suburban Love ****

Namechecks Earth Wind & Fire but sounds more like the Thin White Duke

The Art of Parties **

 

 ROY JAY

Camp-looking but rough-voiced comic/entertainer - probably a regular on the "Workie" circuit in the 70's, but apparently appeared on telly in variety shows and suchlike in the 80's before a rather embarrassing fall from grace. Another who put out a self-financed album, presumably sold at gigs (released on the "Clubland" label, which is a big clue). Collectors of cod-reggae should seek this out for a cringeworthy version of "A Whiter Shade of Pale", complete with moog doing the organ solo

Vehicle ***

Creditably funky version of the Ides of March soul/rock tune (the one with the powerful brass refrain)

 

 JESUS (ALVAREZ)

The male vocalist in Shirley And Company (who occasionally got a co-credit) before going solo - the name and photos on the internet suggest he's of Latino heritage

Ya Ya Ya ****

 

 JIMBO

See Record Reviews Volume 7

Do The Skunk ***

I'm guessing this lot are white because of the bluesy guitar solos going on over the main riff and heavy distorted chords in the breaks

 

 JOE

A man with no surname... but then again, it could be a band name

How Can I Resist ***

Solid, workmanlike effort from (at a guess) white Brit & chums

 

 ELTON JOHN

Puzzlingly-popular podgy piano pounder of precious little discernable talent

Grow Some Funk Of Your Own *

I know I've commented on this elsewhere on my site, but if the word "funk" is used in the title, then surely you should expect at least an element of it in the music? Not the case here

 

 GRACE JONES

Fearsome fashionista

Slave To The Rhythm *****

Grace gets a Trevor Horn makeover. So good they made a whole album of it

 

 JTQ

Acid jazz mainstays

A Good Thing ***

The Brand New Heavies in all but name

Breakout **

Horn line ripped from Brass Construction's classic "Movin'"

Groovin' Home **

Nice wah-wah, but the rest of it is pretty leaden

Three Mile Island ***

Nutrition ***

More two and a half than three really

 

 THE JUANITOS

The French Corduroy i.e. a group doing a post-modern take on groovy rhythms such as bossa nova and boogaloo

Dynamite Funky Baby **

Trying too hard

 

 THE JU-PAR UNIVERSAL ORCHESTRA

Either Canadian or American, depending what you read. Credits suggest multi-racial line up. Produced by Quincy Jones' (white) right-hand man Bruce Swedien

Flute Salad *****

In truth more blaxploitation-based than pure funk, but still brilliant none-the-less. Also top marks for punning

Funky Music **

Ruined by the incessant girly vocals reeling off banalities like "We're gonna make funky music, yes we are, yes we are" on autopilot - why couldn't they have just given it a rest and let the flute player loose like they did on "Flute Salad" (or even just left the groove to take care of itself, which it could do quite nicely, thanks)?

Beauty And The Beast ***

So-so groove that is rescued by the growl-flautist - still too much girly vocal, though

Got To Get-A-Way **

Good riff interrupted by too many boring breakdowns (and of course the you've-guessed-it girly vocals)

 

 DAVE KAMIEN DIVISION

German band

Watermelon Men **

A less-than-convincing attempt to funk up Herbie Hancock's (slightly renamed) latin-jazz standard

 

 KC AND THE SUNSHINE BAND

The brainchild of Howie Casey and Richard Finch - they became disco legends, but some of their material is funkier than given credit for

Do It Good ***

Get Down Tonight ****

I Like To Do It ***

That's The Way I Like It ****

Wrap Your Arms Around Me ***

Just A Groove ***

Yes it might be just a groove, but it's not a bad one

 

 THE KILLER METERS

Guess which band this is a contemporary tribute to?

A Tribute To The Meters *

As I don't care for the Meters, this album was never going to float my boat - that overly bright snare sound on Meters recordings that wasn't that common for the time has sadly now become the norm for white guys trying to do funk these days

 

 ANTHONY KING

60's/70's songwriter for (pre-boogie) Status Quo among others - did the theme music for ITV's 1974 World Cup coverage

Filigree Funk *

This was dug up from (library music?) obscurity and released on a 45 by Jazzman, but its relationship to funk is at best tenuous and it's strictly for the breaks and beats brigade

 

 EL KLAN

from Mexico, apparently

Cold Sweat ***

JB cover. They've got the groove, but the tempo gives Speedy Gonzales a run for his money

 

 KOKOMO

Blue-eyed soul group - their male lead singer sounded more female than the band's female singers

Kittee **

It Aint Cool **

They come over as the sort of act that sounds great in some smoky dive, but can't translate to vinyl. In the first album's case, probably because they were produced by Chris Thomas, whose normal client list included the Pretenders, Roxy Music, and the Sex Pistols

Do It Right ***

This one came from their second album, recorded in the US. Strains for but doesn't quite get another star (like much of their output)

Feelin' Good ***

 

 KOMBI

Polish er, combo

How Can I Stand It ***

Fair-enough funk, but as with all Polish stuff, the singing is a little unnerving - unlike (say) French or Portugese, it's not an attractive language to set to music

 

 KONK

Early 80's proto-hip hop New Yorkers

Your Life ***

Konk Party ***

 

 KRACKER

Cuban rock band - one of the few acts to appear on the Rolling Stones label other than the Stones themselves

Funky Funky Living *

Not unlike their mentors, but not in the slightest bit funky

 

 SU KRAMER

German singer

Die Grune Witke **

This interpretation of the Barbra Streisand song "Queen Bee" is let down by two things: a weedy chorus and a guttural vocal - Teutonic tonsils may suit bombastic Wagner operas, marching songs and the deliberately-robotic style of Kraftwerk, but little else musically

Weisser Sand ***

Sounds like early James Brown on acid

 

 LATI KRONLUND

US-based Scandinavian (or of that heritage) - when not doing library music, he oversees hip-hop crew Brooklyn Funk Essentials

Bust The Bus Stop ***

Fingers In The Groove ***

Jampot ****

Stanky ***

 

 DUNCAN LAMONT

Scottish sax-playing veteran of the session and library scenes

Funky Express ****

Even Duncan admits he was ripping-off Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon". Strangely enough, this is actually funkier than Herbie's track

 

 NILS LANDGREN FUNK UNIT

Swedish trombonist with what more-strictly-speaking should be "Jazz-Funk-Fusion Unit", "Smooth Jazz Unit", or maybe "Acid Jazz Unit"

Voulez Vous ***

Immaculately recorded cover of an ABBA tune with the only weak point the obligatory rap - probably the funkiest pick from a whole album's worth of tribute to his legendary compatriots... some of which is barely recognisable

Samplerayt ***

More than a hint of the Ohio Players' "Skin Tight" (or is it "Fire") about this, along with a smidgeon of Brick's "Dazz"

House Party ***

Competent cover of the Fred Wesley number, but tipped into a cocked hat by the cracking live rendition on a Swedish breakfast-time show as featured on YouTube - I bet you won't hear anything like that on "BBC Breakfast" or "Daybreak"!

Funk For Life ***

 

 LANDSCAPE

Jazz-rockers-turned-electro-poppers

Too Many Questions ****

See Record Reviews Volume 10

 

 k.d. LANG

Country/pop dyke

Just Keep Me Moving ****

 

 THE IAN LANGLEY GROUP

Library music artists who recorded an album called "Reggae For Real (And Other Rhythms)"

Chicago Chaser **

Funk that is as much faux as their reggae is probably cod

 

 D.C. La RUE

Sounds like a euro-disco dude, but is actually American

Ca-The-Drals ****

Some would say this was disco rather than funk - even so it's got killer guitar and clavinet riffs

 

 JAMES LAST

The Ubermeister of German easy listening

Welcome To The Party / Funky Inn ***

Virtually identical upbeat efforts actually composed by Hansi himself - unfortunately they bookend one of his record sides as a kind of intro/coda so don't last too long (hopefully they can be mixed together with a sound editor to make a decent-length version)

 

 LATIN BREED

Tex-Mex muchachos

You Turn Me On ****

 

 THE LEBRON BROTHERS

Latin boogaloo crew

Got Myself Together ***

Their funk is actually much better than their boogaloo

 

 LED ZEPPELIN

Hideous blues-rock screamers - responsible for a lot that is wrong in popular music

The Crunge *

 

 RAYMOND LEFEVRE

French orchestra leader and film composer

Hot From Miami *

Slick yet perky rhythm backing ruined by a smothering of sickly orchestral arrangements

 

 LEVEL 42

Started out in the early 80's as jazz-funk-fusioneers, then moved to pop with a funk undercurrent as they hit big. Surprisingly, despite the in-your-face presence of bass-slapping mainman Mark King, not that much of their stuff is actual funk - here's the nearest candidates:

43 ****

Almost There ***

Dream Crazy ***

Love Games ***

Sandstorm ****

Theme To Margaret ***

True Believers ***

 

 LEX

Arty New York based (think) post-disco group

14 Days ***

Chic's "Good Times" Meets the Tom Tom Club's "Genius of Love"

 

 LINDA LEWIS

Childlike-voiced pop/soul vocalist

Sideway Shuffle ***

Like many UK-based black singers in the 70's, her backing musicians were mainly whiteys. Bits of this sound disturbingly like "Iko Iko"

 

 LIGHTNIN' RED

Pseudonym for a Stereo Gold Award guitarist of dubious origin - who was that masked axeman?

Funky Friday ***

Maybe what Jimi Hendrix would have sounded like had he ever got funky (not that he ever did)

Papa's Got A Brand New Bag **

More fuzzy fretboard fiddling over what sounds like an early James Brown groove (but isn't, despite the title)

Caravan **

I like this Duke Ellington exotic jazz standard (and have several versions of it), but I'm not sure I like this funked-up interpretation

 

 LIMMIE FUNK LIMITED

Limmie of "Family Cookin'" fame backed by young Brits who later formed the Nick Straker Band. Written and produced by one Simon Cohen - I don't know about you, but the only black Jew I've heard of is Sammy Davis Jr.

Soul Rules O.K.? *****

Misleading title - this is funk central, a cross between Wild Cherry and the Commodores

 

 LIQUID GOLD

Struck gold with "Dance Yourself Dizzy", im my opinion perhaps the worst disco record of all time. Puppet-master Adrian Baker later went on to have success with Beach Boys' pastiches... and was so good at it he actually invited to join the real thing!

Mr Groovy ***

Half their album is dreadful disco in the manner of "DYD", but the other half (including this) is more-than-acceptable cocktail funk if you like that sort of thing

Could Be Tonight ***

There's a slightly annoying bit in this where they rip-off Chic's "Le Freak" by going  "aaaaAAAHHHH!" and I can't help but think "Freak Out!" afterwards

Anyway You Do It ***

I thought part of the melody on this was very familiar, so racked my brains and then realised it was very similar to "Do You Wanna Touch Me" by Gary Gl*tter (eek!)

 

 LITTLE BEAVER

Black session guitarist for TK records in the 70's

I Can Dig It Baby ***

Features pre-fame bass wunderkind Jaco Pastorius. Jaco was evidently a funk fan in his youth (see below) but this is probably the nearest he came to being funky himself

 

 LITTLE FEAT

Offered a steaming musical gumbo, but usually with only a soupcon of funk

Two Trains ***

 

 LIVING COLOR

NOT the 80's black rock band, this lot's only recording was written and produced by a guy named Tony Kalangis - my guess is he's American of Greek descent

Plastic People ****

An excellent track, only denied top marks by the inclusion of a short Northern Soul-style horn break (out with the sound editor)

 

 LOGGINS AND MESSINA

Country rock duo

You Need A Man ***

Funky country

 

 THE LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA

Released an album called "A Classic Case of Funk". To be honest, the odd popping bassline apart, it's mainly a case of classics with a beat

The Gilbert And Sullivan Case *

The nearest they actually get to funk is on a medley of G&S tunes. James Brown's "Sex Machine" riff is poorly ripped off, but in any case, like the rest of the album, the rhythm is swamped by the orchestral arrangements. Hard to say who'd be more offended by this: funk fans or lovers of light operettas

 

 THE JEFF LORBER FUSION

Fusion keyboard player and pals including sax player Kenny Gorelick, later to become (in)famous as purveyor-of-smooth-jazz-to-the-masses Kenny G

Monster Man **

Starts off okay with a crunchy sound but soon gives way to Jeff's usual noodling

 

 GEOFF LOVE

The UK's favourite budget easy listening orchestra leader, who technically was at least of half-black origin, although an upbringing playing in brass bands in the Yorkshire Dales is not exactly straight out of the ghetto

Three Days Of The Condor **

Cover of Dave Grusin's tune is all-but undone by a bassist who clearly has no feel for this kind of thing

Space Patrol ***

Obviously "Star Wars" influenced, this was put together by Love's protégé Nick Ingman (Geoff was probably getting a round of golf in at the time)

FM ***

Geoff not only attempts to cover this fairly complicated Steely Dan track (as an instrumental take), but even dares to try and make it a bit funkier than the original - it works in some parts better than others, but an extra star for trying anyway

 

 IAN LYNN

Jazz/soundtrack keyboardist

Sun Dance **

Sub Pat-Metheny-like fusion with a hint of funk about it

 

 GALT MacDERMOT

Composer of overrated hippy musical Hair - also believed in some quarters to have invented funk before James Brown (the Leif Ericsson of funk?)

Tango *

Funky drums (by Bernard Purdie) and chattering guitar completely negated by awful avant-garde ivory tinkling and bass playing

Radio Rock *

This time Idris Muhammad tries working up a funky beat with all his might, but the rest (including Galt and his weedy organ) just don't match up. Both these tracks show that MacDermot may have hit on fragments of funk, but any claim he originated the genre is fatuous to say the least

 

 MADEIRA

The name suggests some kind of Latino outfit, but I believe they are in fact German

Rice And Beans ***

In the middle of this otherwise-impressive effort there is an odd country-rock breakdown that sounds like incidental music from "The Rockford Files" (remove with your sound editor funk fans!)

 

 JIMMY MAELEN

Along with Ralph McDonald and Paulinho Da Costa, one of the most in-demand percussionists of the 70's and 80's

I'm Gonna Getcha **

A curious one this, sort of funk but also rock and even country influenced

I'm Gonna Getcha ***

A re-recording of the above track from the only album released under his own name. Not quite funk, not quite disco - there's actually more of the Brecker Brothers horn work evident here than Jimmy's percussion

 

 MAGAZINE

Mancunian post-punk band led by (ex-Buzzcocks) Howard Devoto

Thank You **

Minimalist cover of the Sly track that suffers somewhat from the absence of a rhythm guitar - improves slightly at the end but by then it's too late

 

 MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA

Portentous jazz-rock ensemble

Can't Stand Your Funk ***

Not sure if the title is an ironic statement, but this is surprisingly restrained and compact by their standards (although perhaps not so surprisingly it's in 5/4 time), with as much a reggae feel as funk

Cosmic Strut ***

More odd time signatures (9/8 and others I can't work out), but nice squelchy wah wah clavinet riffs throughout

 

 MALCOLM'S LOCKS

German-based outfit - presumably they're referring to his hair rather than what you find in doors or on canals

Get Up Stand Up ***

Bright and organ-heavy funky interpretation of the Bob Marley tune

 

 MALO

One of several latin-rock bands that sprung up in the wake of Santana's success - they even had the same producer and a guitarist with the same surname

Street Man ***

Urgent funk-rock workout that really motors in the extended Hammond solo

 

 MANCHESTER CITY F.C.

Supposedly the team that actual Mancunians support (as opposed to United fans, who allegedly bring the M6 to a standstill every other weekend). I've lived in the Rainy City for over 10 years now, and contrary to the myth I've met a lot more fans of the Reds than the Blues

Funky City ****

See Record Reviews Volume 6

 

 HENRY MANCINI

Hollywood soundtrack legend, later released albums mainly of covers in his own unique easy style

Pick Up The Pieces ***

The rhythm section on this cover of the Average White Band classic does the business (by this time Hank was using the services of jazz-fusion sessioneers like Larry Carlton and Harvey Mason) but the orchestrated strings (that always seemed a little harsh on his recordings to me) don't really work at all

 

 MANDINGO

Home-counties based session players and library music composers try to cash in on the Afro Rock fad of the early and mid 70's

Fever Pitch ****

Goddess Of The Sun **

Sounds like they've drafted in high priestess of Exotica Yma Sumac on this one (in reality, a sound-alike). Would have scored higher if not for substandard bass-playing (Herbie Flowers presumably not available for this session)

Jungle Juice ***

Manhunter ***

The Cheetah ****

 

 ANGELIKA MANN

German Fraulein

Kutte **

 

 HERBIE MANN

Shrill and over-active jazz flautist who had a tendency to jump on any bandwagon rolling: bossa nova, fusion, disco... and even reggae (!)

Bird In A Silver Cage ***

Herbie trills away over orchestrated disco-funk provided by Silver Convention ubermeister Sylvester Levay. One that benefits from pruning out the less funky bits with a sound editor

Pick Up The Pieces ***

Fair-to-middling cover of AWB's all-time great - lively percussion somewhat nullified by pedestrian bass. There's a nice squelchy Moog doubling up with the flute for the melody, but once Herbie starts cutting loose on the bridge, as usual one gets an earache rather quickly

 

 MANTRA

Mostly black early 80's funk outfit, but with a couple of seriously behind-the-times fashion-wise white dudes

Do You Wanna ****

This and the others below are off their only LP produced by Cameo head honcho Larry Blackmon (he of red codpiece infamy) so don't actually sound unlike his own crew (but are actually better)

Doin' It To The Bone ***

Here We Come ***

 

 MARC 4

Italians specialising in jazzy and groovy instrumentals

Beat Intenso *

Despite having the components (wah wah, congas, etc) this is a mess that never really gets going

 

 ARIF MARDIN

US-based Turkish producer long associated with Atlantic Records - the Average White Band and The Bee Gees were clients among many others

Street Scene **

Despite the wah-wah this will please fans of fusion rather more than fans of funk

 

 JOHN MARTYN

Toxic folkie

Dealer ***

Not actually funk as such, but has a strange kind of funk feel about it

 

 DAVE MASON

Singer/guitarist best known as member of hippy/pysch outfit Traffic

Split Coconut ***

By coincidence, like the above entry this virtual instrumental is only loosely funk related, but the drummer certainly knows his funk chops

 

 DAVID MATTHEWS

Arranger for James Brown before becoming in-house producer for fusion label CTI, nowadays concentrates on jazz

Across The Track ****

A curious one this - Matthews wrote and arranged (and produced according to some sources, although others say Brown) this track that originally came out as a 45 credited to The Believers, obviously a pseudonym for Brown's musicians. It is also known as "Mr Hot Pants" in some quarters, and apparently a few years later British soul specialist label Contempo put it out under the alias of The Masai, but whatever form it comes in this is a fine instrumental workout, and the only thing stopping it getting five stars is that the bridge is not as strong as the rest

Shoogie Wanna Boogie *

Hideously over-elaborate workout that despite the best labours of those involved just doesn't cut it, and made worse by equally fiddly breaks that sound like they belong to a completely different record. Most annoying, considering the talent on board... but then again, just because you've got access to great musicians, doesn't necessarily mean you're going to make a great record (as this proves)

Sandworms ***

Smooth fusion workout

 

 PHIL McARTHUR & DAVE CABRERA

Modern studio project

Boogie Da Bomb **

2 Cool 4 School ****

 

 FRANK McDONALD & CHRIS RAE

Session guys, did some library tunes

Fever Pitch **

Well named

Last One ***

Love Session ***

 

 JOHN McLAUGHLIN

Over-rated jazz-rock-fusion guitarist and leader of Mahavishnu Orchestra

Desire And The Comforter **

Sounds like Jeff Beck & the Jan Hammer Group - perhaps would have gained another star if it lasted longer

 

 MECO

Orchestral arranger, best known for his disco version of "Star Wars"

Funk *

Unimaginative and a little misleading title - no amount of funky guitar can disguise the fact that this is driven by a drum arrangement more suited to John Philip Souza marches, and the two don't gel here

 

 MEMPHIS BLACK

Unhip white Germans pretend to be hip black Americans

Why Don't You Play The Organ Man? **

Doesn't quite work due to overbearing bass line

 

 THE MEMPHIS HORNS

Mixture of black and white players that found time to release a few mainly-instrumental albums (backed by similarly racially-mixed sessioneer rhythm sections - Jay Graydon was heavily involved in later recordings) when not backing Stax acts and other soul singers

Soul Bowl ***

Unlike their later stuff this is a simple groove

Move Your Feet **

Don't Change It ****

Keep On Doin' It ***

Could have done without the meandering trombone

Give It To Me **

Like their near-neighbours and peers/rivals The Muscle Shoals Horns (see below), they seem intent on overdoing things rather than let the music speak for itself - this one is ruined by an interjection of some needless AOR noodling

What The Funk ***

 

 MEZZOFORTE

Early 80's Shakatak-alike Icelandic crew

Funk Suite No. 1 *

The only possible excuse that this dire effort is so-named is because English isn't their first language. Hopefully they never got around to releasing No. 2

 

 MIAMI

Black and white (or much more likely Latino) aggregation from (surprise surprise) Miami - I'm sure they were produced by Rick Finch of KC fame. Mainly disco output but of the funky variety

Broken Down Man ***

Poppy effort with a funk jam outro

Got To Get It On ***

Hey Y'all We're Miami ***

Chicken Yellow ***

Funk It Up **

 

 MIDAS TOUCH

Library music group project that apparently among others included Harry Rabinowitz, better known as a musical director on scores of TV shows

Big Deal! ***

 

 BETTE MIDLER

The divine Miss M... or so they say

Breaking Up Somebody's Home ***

Wah-wahed-up cover of an Ann Peebles soul tune

 

 JERZY MILIAN

Polish geezer

Note In A Crest ***

Not bad stuff, but the players seem overly hesitant at times

 

 STEVE MILLER

The Space Cowboy

Macho City **

Spoilt by Steve's rap

 

 THE MILLION DOLLAR ORCHESTRA

Contemporary studio crew try (and fail) to re-create the halcyon days of disco

Keep On Doin Watcha Doin **

The nearest they come to funk. Like the rest of the album, it sounds like they're trying too hard. More like the Tap Washer Orchestra

 

 RONNIE MILSAP

Country singer and pianist

Get It Up ****

A well-played and arranged effort, but what would Ronnie's usual punters have made of it?

Hi-Heel Sneakers **

Funky disco take on the rhythm & blues standard

 

 MOCAMBO ALL STARS

A.k.a. The Mighty Mocambos a.k.a. Mighty Mo And The Winchester Seven - not sure of their origin but they've been active since the mid-90's

The Next Message ****

Excellent instrumental (and mercifully rap-free) interpretation of the ground-breaking Grandmaster Flash hip-hop track "The Message"

Wind Rose **

Swamp Strut **

Brampton Boogaloo **

Their own stuff is not so good

 

 MODERN ROMANCE

Failed punks get themselves a stylistic makeover of wedge haircuts and brightly coloured suits to cash in on the New Romantic/Latin revival club scene

Everybody Salsa *

Cheesy cocktail funk that's authentically latin in the same way that chop suey is authentically chinese - they wouldn't get away with it now

Bring On The Funkateers *

Hope they're not referring to themselves

Tear The Roof Off The Moose *

Two puns in one title - one a nod to Parliament's anthem, the other references the a-side "Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosey" (moose/house - geddit?). Shame they didn't spend as much time on the music, dominated by "Woh-oh!" soulboy chant ad nauseum. Probably explains why singer Geoff Deane left the band soon afterwards to write BBC sitcoms

 

 FRANCIS MONKMAN

Another session/library keyboardist - probably best known for being in Sky

Superdude ***

Another variation on the old "For The Love Of Money" bassline

 

 HUGO MONTENEGRO

Orchestra leader and film composer whose most popular works were actually written by others - "The Good, The Bad And The Ugly" theme (Ennio Morricone) and the "Man From U.N.C.L.E" LP's (Jerry Goldsmith, Lalo Schifrin et al). Also released an album dedicated to the works of one Steveland Morris

Superstition ***

Stevie's tune gets a flashy Moog treatment. Despite featuring some wah-wah licks (and being recorded in the 70's), this is more groovy than funky

 

 ALAN MOORHOUSE AND HIS BOND STREET BRIGADE

UK all-round musical director/arranger etc

Funky Fever ***

Unlike Meco (see above), Al shows its possible to mix funk with march rhythms

 

 MIKE MORAN

Session/library keyboardist - became familiar to Joe Public via his duet with Lynsey De Paul on a Eurovision Song Contest entry (appropriately titled "Rock Bottom")

The Pick-Up ***

Rather a rip-off of AWB's "Pick Up The Pieces" - he's even nicked part of the track title

 

 GIORGIO MORODER

German producer who practically invented electro with "I Feel Love"

I Wanna Funk With You Tonight *

Lame euro-disco in the style of "Black Is Black"

 

 LARRY MORRIS

Kiwi rocker

Who Do We Think We're Fooling ***

Just about holds itself together, but Larry's gruff meandering vocal doesn't help

 

 THE MOTORS

Pub rockers turned new wavers

Whiskey And Wine **

Pub funk

 

 MARC MOULIN

Belgian experimental/fusion keyboard player

N W ***

 

 MUD

Seen by many as in the vanguard of Glam, but pseudo-tranny-with-dangly-earrings guitarist apart, their look and sound was no more glam than say, The Rubettes - more of an updated rock 'n' roll band, really. Like other ChinniChap-reared acts, once they chose to cut the apron strings and "do their own thing" their star soon waned

Shake It Down ***

The missing link between Tiger Feet and Kylie Minogue. This was virtually their swansong, trying to hitch a ride on the swelling disco wave. This actually made the top 20 at the time, yet I bet few can remember it - I thought I knew everything about the charts back then, yet I'm ashamed to say this somehow passed me by completely

 

 IDRIS MUHAMMAD

Black American soul-jazz and fusion drummer (and Muslim convert formerly known as plain old Leo Morris)

Turn This Mutha Out **

"Blues and Soul" magazine described this on release as a "gutbucket groove", which actually makes it all the more disappointing - the reason it's here is because it was written, arranged and produced by David Matthews (see above), whilst Idris himself merely drummed on it despite hogging the credit

Crab Apple ***

Matthews was also responsible for this on the same album which is a less-forced workout so better as a result

 

 WERNER MULLER

German easy-meister

A Sex Machine **

Another cover of Soul Brother Number One's classic. The rhythm section try really hard to concoct some kind of cohesive groove (although the JB's they ain't). Unfortunately the horn section (copying the "Get on up" vocal lines) are so busy reading the dots they're not taking a blind bit of notice of what's happening underneath. I think the word funk means something completely different in German, so maybe they misunderstood

 

 MUNICH MACHINE

A Georgio Moroder project

Get On The Funk Train **

Quite a good disco effort, but not really funk despite the presence of wah-wah and clavinet riffs

 

 WALTER MURPHY

US keyboardist/writer/bandleader who capitalised on the disco boom

A Fifth Of Beethoven ***

If the creators of "A Classic Case of Funk" were using this as their inspiration, they obviously weren't listening too hard - unlike their effort, it's a good mix of light funk (not disco as commonly mistaken for) and orchestral arrangements, with the funk on the higher ground

Uptown Serenade ***

Glitzy funk that sounds like the soundtrack to Charlie's Angels (I mean the crappy 70's TV series, not the even crappier film revivals), but still funk all the same

Toccata And Funk In D Minor *

A stab in the Bach

 

 THE MUSCLE SHOALS HORNS

Incorporating the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section - when they weren't doing their own thing they were the house band at (surprise) the Muscle Shoals Studios backing a host of black soul singers

Hustle To The Music ***

Like all the tracks below, this has a strong central riff but a habit of veering off into less-interesting sections as if they want to show off their musical chops, which is most frustrating - keep it simple guys!

Doin' It To The Bone ***

Keep On Playing That Funky Music ***

Born To Get Down ***

Bump De Bump De Boodie ****

 

 MUSCLES

Appeared on the Brummie independent label Big Bear (usually more associated with blues-rock) in the 70's

Make Me Happy *

Aaarrgh! leaping octave basslines alert as they try to jump aboard the disco bandwagon

I'm Gonna Synthesise You **

Plenty of synth action but rather pedestrian

Love Fire **

Funky ballad, gets a bit more interesting in the electric piano solo

Music Is Our Message **

Muscle Hustle *

Listless fusion instrumental - waste of a good title

No Smoke Without Fire **

People **

Main riff is just about okay, but veers off into quasi-fusion breakdowns too often

Jungle Strut ***

Probably their best, but like all their stuff, it doesn't quite hit the mark: thin production and the bass playing are most likely causes

 

 THE MYSTIC MOODS ORCHESTRA

Ground-breaking easy listening/mood music project that mixed lush musical arrangements with the sounds of nature - the first ambient records?

Midnight Snack ****

Despite its excellence something about this was nagging at me, and I've now come to the conclusion that it's a smoother instrumental rip-off of an obscure hard funk number by Southern Fried called "You Got To Pay"

 

 NINO NARDINI

French library music composer

Backgammon ***

Charger Attack ***

Express Pour Portofino **

Funk on speed - were Haircut 100 listening to this?

Fast Delivery **

Latinova **

The opposite of Express Pour Portofino - drags heavily

Passport International ***

Pop Riviera **

 

 PETER NERO

Easy/cocktail pianist

Superstition ***

This is a pretty good crack at Stevie Wonder's tune - well, the backing's good, anyway. However, poor old Pete doesn't really know what to do on this, other than pick out the melody in octaves - when he finally tires of that, he tries some pretty lame improvisation that adds nothing at all

 

 NEW CHAPTERS IN FUNK

To quote from their press release for the below tracks: "Two of South London's most innovative and original producers team up to deliver two pumping chunks of funk"

Funk For Real *

Funk NOT for real! This is house, not funk! And not very good house at that - I really hate it when people like this abuse the word funk - idiots!

Funknology *

 

 THE NEW JERSEY KINGS

Pseudonym for JTQ - I think because of contractual problems, certainly not because of a significant change of musical style

Green Screen ***

Fairly typical of contemporary funk - not bad but not great either

 

 THE NEW YORK ROCK AND SOUL REVUE

90's professional muso collective letting their hair down at weekends. Among those moonlighting in their ranks was Donald Fagen of Steely Dan

Shakey Ground ***

Temptations cover fronted by singer-songwriter Phoebe Snow. The musical backing is well done, but is let down by "plastic" modern recording methods

 

 NIGHT CREATURES

French disco project

That's The Night ****

 

 JANKO NILOVIC

Montenegran-born French-based film and library music specialist

Funky Tramway ***

Takes a while to get going but not too bad thereafter if you like your funk a little off-kilter

Gypsy Funk **

Funky Village *

Drug Song ****

Features some nice "growl"-flute

Soul Impressions ***

Has an unnecessary breakdown in it that costs it a star

 

 NORTHSIDE

Runt of the "Madchester" litter

Funky Munky *

Actually not that bad as a baggy-style groove (certainly no worse than the average Stone Roses or Happy Mondays effort), but funky? as their peer Sean Ryder likes to remark: you're twisting my melon man

 

 GARY NUMAN

Pasty-faced much-pilloried synth-rock merchant

We Take Mystery (To Bed) ** 

the Numanoid gets Mick Karn (or is it Pino Palladino) to add noodling fretless basslines to his usual whiny-voiced electro formula. There's actually some quite funky guitar going down in the "chorus"

 

 BILLY OCEAN

In his early days he worked mainly with white musicians

Cream On The Top ***

 

 BILL ODDIE

Goodies member goes solo

Superspike Part 2 ****

A close relative of the Goodies' "Photo Fit". Part 1 apparently ruined by "comic" interjections by the likes of John Cleese

 

 THE OLYMPIC RUNNERS

Sessioneer supergroup put together by blues producer Mike Vernon

Drag It Over Here ***

On Ya ****

A direct lift of George Duke's "Dukey Stick", but still good

Solar Heat ****

Disco Smash ***

The synth and sax breaks are streets ahead as the best bits on this otherwise ordinary track that is badly dated by its title

Hash Browns ***

Do It Over **

Don't Let Up **

Rather empty effort - sounds like they forgot to put the nagging funk guitar track in the mix

Go No Further **

Turgid affair that fails to get out of the starting blocks - Pete Wingfield resorts to cat-walking-on-the-piano effects in failed attempt to liven things up

 

 ORANGE JUICE

Early 80's Scottish indie rockers

Rip It Up **

Almost endearing in its naivety

Flesh Of My Flesh **

Take out Edwyn Collin's voice, and you're left with some real cocktail funk (don't know if they intended it)

 

 ORCHESTRA COMETA

Italian instrumental group

Rash ****

A very similar riff to Stretch's "why Did You Do It" (see below)

 

 ORQUESTRA E CORO

Brazilian band

Kriola ***

Funk meets samba

 

 ORO

Italian outfit

Sexy Lady ***

Stop The War ****

 

 JOHNNY OTIS

Veteran blues/gospel bandleader and mentor

Comin' At You Baby *****

Jaws ***

Country Girl **

Funky blues

Don't It Make You Feel Good ****

Funky ballad

Skunk Booty ***

Watts Breakaway ***

Sounds like a better Stax effort

 

 SHUGGIE OTIS

Son of Johnny

Bootie Cooler ***

Bluesy funker

Miss Pretty ****

 

 OVATION

French library music project

Burble Pie ***

 

 LARRY PAGE

Failed crooner who had more success as the manager of The Kinks before launching his own label and orchestra, cashing in on the popularity of easy listening and (later) disco

Body Movement **

A promising start with prominent clavinet action, but sadly gives way to disco cheese

 

 PAICE ASHTON AND LORD

Short-lived hard rock sort-of-supergroup formed from the ashes of Deep Purple

Arabella **

Taken as funk alone a bit shaky, but quite listenable as a prog-funk-rock fusion kind of thing

 

 ROBERT PALMER

Smooth and stylish (even in the shaggy 70's) rock crooner - dabbled in various forms of black music

Night People ***

Better without the rocky middle eight (chop it out with a sound editor if you've got one)

Sneaking Sally Through The Alley ***

Sounds like the sort of thing Kokomo might have turned out (some of them were probably actually involved)

 

 EDDIE PALMIERI

Salsa pianist

Condiciones Que Existen ***

Funk with a latin edge, although Eddie himself doesn't appear to have much to do with it

 

 LE PAMPLEMOUSSE

A front for cult American disco producers Laurin Rinder and W. Michael Lewis (rather disappointingly, the name translates from French as "The Grapefruit")

Lock It Up ****

Spunky riff tempered only by indifferent breaks (one for the sound editor to fix)

Keep On Doin' **

 

 ALAN PARKER

Session/library guitarist and composer - also in Blue Mink (but not the film director)

Sweeny (sic) Todd ***

No doubt written with the ace 70's cop show of the same name in mind - don't know if it was used in the series itself

 

 PARRICELLI & SULZMANN

Library music dudes

Jaywalkin' *****

Funk meets smooth jazz - the kind of thing you'd expect to hear from people like David Sanborn and Candy Dulfer, only they've never done it as well as this

 

 JACO PASTORIUS

Jazz-rock bass nonpareil

The Chicken **

Home demo of the James Brown instrumental with a teenage Jaco playing everything. This reminds me of a talent show I once attended, where I witnessed a precocious juvenile drummer daring to play a complicated disco rhythm (16th hi-hats and all) to a backing track. Of course he couldn't keep it up, and after a minute or so the wheels came off completely. Unlike him Jaco doesn't quite crash and burn, but it's clear at this stage of his development his talent doesn't match his ambition

The Chicken *

Many years later Jaco realised an ambition to re-record what is evidently a favourite of his, along with an orchestra's worth of crack musicians. Unfortunately at this point the man probably had too much talent, so instead of maximising the groove potential of what is a fairly simplistic tune, he chose to make it a hideous fiddly-noodly-self-indulgent-up-it's-own-backside fusion abomination

 

 DAVE PATTERSON

Library music guy

Solid Funk ***

With a title like that you have high expectations, but as expected this just about passes muster

 

 PAZ

Latin-jazz fusion group - a kind of British version of what George Duke does

Three Blonde Mice ***

Some excellent funky bits in this, but sadly they are few and far between

 

 FERNANDO ANTONIO PEARSON

Library music hombre with presumably white and latino genes

Mellow Dancer ***

 

 THE PEDDLERS

60's Hammond-led beat trio

Impressions ***

The organist switches to electric piano, and they've drafted in a guitarist armed with a wah-wah pedal too - gives this track a good blaxploitation feel

 

 PENTANGLE

Jazzy folkies (or is it folky jazzers?)

Helping Hand ***

Features a funky segment in 7/8 time that you can make a decent mix with

 

 DAVID PERIAN

Another library music bod

The Race Machine ***

Brassy funky fusion

 

 JEAN-JACQUES PERREY

Moog innovator

Soul City ***

Possibly the first ever case of white men being funky

 

 PHILHARMONIC 2000

Another attempt at grafting classical melodies onto funk rhythms

Moonshine ***

 

 JEAN-CLAUDE PIERRIC

French library music man who also had a few other projects going in the 70's

Hot Bacallo ***

 

 DAVE PIKE SET

US jazz vibester with some German chums

I Got The Feelin' ***

Competent (but no more) cover of another JB track - quite hard to tell where "the one" is

 

 PLAYERS ASSOCIATION

Late 70's American jazz-funk-meets-disco studio project, doing near-instrumental versions (with loads of horn solos) of then-recent dancefloor hits, along with some original workouts in the same vein

Ride The Groove ***

The funkiest they got, if still a touch on the disco side

 

 PLEASE

Their faces said they were Thai but their names suggested they were Latino - to add to the mystery they were apparently based in Germany and at one point had an English producer (Mike Vernon of Olympic Runners fame)

Grand Dad's Goin' Funky *****

Whatever their origins, never mind Grand dad (sic) - this is one funky mother! Expertly played with a pin-sharp sound

Ego Trippin' ***

Starts off brilliantly but soon becomes boring

Flaming Lady ***

I'm Gonna Take Care Of Business **

 

 THE POETS

Sounding like they come from LA, but are apparently from the land of kilts and haggis

Fun Buggy ***

Very similar to The Basic (see above)

 

 THE POLICE

New Wave/cod-reggae bandwagon jumpers who become one of the biggest bands around, making main-man Sting a superstar in the process

Voices Inside My Head ***

I've seen this described as funk in some quarters - in my opinion a fine groove, but categorising it as funk is a bit of a stretch

 

 IGGY POP

"The Godfather of Punk". Personally, I've never understood the Messiah-like adulation that Mr Pop gets from the rock press and fans

Sex Machine *

Ill-advised tilt at the Godfather of Soul's signature tune. As Iggy's usual thrashing rock is of a shambolic nature, he's always going to be out of his depth tackling a far more disciplined idiom

 

 PLUS

Belgian fusion group

Put Everything Together ***

Gimme Some More Of That ***

 

 THE PRESIDENTS

From Madrid

It's My Thing ***

Way José - certainly not obviously inferior to the JB's. I hate the noisy bits in the middle but I feel the same way about Marva Whitney's original

 

 PINO PRESTI

Italian bassist, composer and general all-purpose guy

Funky Bump ****

Slightly on the cheesy side, but that the way I like it

 

 THE PRIDE OF LONDON BIG BAND

The name says it all really

Blue Angels **

G's Jump ***

See Record Reviews Part 5

Rio Con Brio *

Trying to apply the funk treatment to a feeble Edmundo Ros-style cod-latin tune really is a recipe for disaster

 

 PUSH

More modern funk rehashers

Northside Shuffle ***

Car chase funk - just add squealing tyres

Traffic ***

 

 ASHA PUTHLI

Much-travelled breathy-voiced Indian female singer

Space Talk ***

Spacey (surprise) and seductive groove that loses a mark for the bass which although a good line, isn't quite locked in with everything else

Flying Fish ***

A more pure funk effort - again, the bassist isn't quite on the money

 

 QUARTZ

Norfolk school band project - presumably nothing to do with the heavy metal band of the same name

Social Values **

As you might expect, fairly lo-fi production with the vocals (spouting naive right-on idealistic claptrap) way too far up in the mix. Saved from one star indignity by a wah wah and some nice flute playing

 

 QUEEN

The ultimate stadium rock showband

Another One Bites The Dust **

The (in)famous Chic "Good Times" rip-off. Despite that, would have scored at least another star if Brian May hadn't kept the funky guitar riff so brief

Fun It **

An early example of funk-metal, has its moments but never really gets going

 

 THE QUESTIONS

Scottish early 80's trio

Work And Play **

Early Wham-like dance-funk with uncertain pop interludes

 

 QUILLER

A one-off project for the so-so 70's spy series of the same name

Quiller ***

Plenty of clavinet action

 

 RABBITS AND CARROTS

Mexican James Brown copyists

Give It Up Or Turn It Loose **

A case of give it up as far as this ragged instrumental take is concerned

Sex Machine ***

This is better, but the blow-torch Spanish vocals make the Godfather sound like Perry Como

 

 MARK RADICE

Pre-teen prodigy who is nowadays involved with Sesame Street

If You Can't Beat 'em, Join 'em **

I thought this sounded like Brass Construction, then found out that Brass Construction (and their producer) were actually involved. The backing's not bad if you like discofied funk, but unfortunately Mark sounds like a man in search of a tune (and hasn't found one)

The Whole Wide World Ain't Nothin' But A Party ***

This is better, but it could have done without the intrusive "party" hubbub droning on throughout the track

Exception To The Rule *

 

 JESSE RAE

Fiercely nationalistic Scot with a penchant for posturing as a kilted claymore-wielding Celtic warrior - contrary to his image, his music is surprisingly very much influenced by the sounds of black America, with nary a skirl o' the 'pipes (he also wrote and recorded the original version of "Inside Out" which later became a hit for Odyssey)

Chainsaw *

Attempt at P-funk (I think the "P" stands for poor in this case) with a really cringe-worthy huge gated snare drum

The Lass That Made The Bed Tae Me **

Slightly better effort where Jesse sets a poem of the Scottish bard Rabbie Burns to music

 

 RAINBOW ORCHESTRA

German big band

Neptune's Walk **

Brassy easy funk with a vibes solo (good) and a swing interlude (not so good)

 

 RAINBOW TEAM

Early 80's Italian soul/dance production team - a second rate Change

And There Were Stars **

Hope He Wants **

 

 RANDY PIE

German jazzy-proggy types

Sophisticated ***

Definitely has that feel of of rockers trying hard to funk, but not bad for all that with some good horn lines. Shame the tiresome singer sounds nothing like sophisticated

Dance (If You Want) Parts 1 & 2 ***

Mixes funky elements with the Silver Convention-style strings-heavy disco sound, so better in some places than others

 

 RARE EARTH

One of the few white acts signed to Motown

Born To Wander ***

Their stuff is probably more soul and pop than funk - here's the nearest they get that I've heard

Foot Loose And Fancy Free **

 

 RAULZINHO & IMPACTO 8

Brazilian trombonist and multi-coloured cohorts

I've Got The Feelin' ***

Or as James Brown puts it: "I Got The Feeling"

 

 RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS

Or "Chili Peppers" to those who follow them

Give It Away **

Having read the hype that they were supposedly funky, I listened to a greatest hits compilation and discovered that this apart, I'd completely wasted my time. This is OK, but as it's late 80's there's the big and nasty in-yer-face snare sound all over it

 

 RED POINT ORCHESTRA

German aggregation run by organ grinder Veit Marvos

Red Point Groove ****

At least I think that's what this excellent wah-wah heavy workout is called - someone has posted various clips from their first LP on YouTube but not been too helpful with the tracklisting

Back Grabbin' ***

Another guess

Family Affair ****

This is definitely a cover of the Sly Stone song... and definitely better with fantastic organ solos

High Times ****

Humpty Dumpty ***

More than a touch of disco about this one but the funk is still in there somewhere too

Funky Jungle *

 

 DAN REED NETWORK

A virtually perfect (and perhaps intentional) multi-cultural mix of two whites, two blacks and one east Asian (apparently you can't describe such people as "oriental" anymore as it's seen as pejorative if not downright racist), with presumably the same agenda music wise. However if the album below was anything to go by it was no wonder they soon fell out of favour

Slam *

Supposedly an funk update for the late 80's, it's just a gruesome rock-dance hybrid with all the excesses of its time, more disappointing for the fact that Chic legend Nile Rodgers co-produced

 

 PETER RENO

Mancunian (I think) general purpose keyboardist

Silver Thrust ***

An organ, bongo and flute frenzy

Hard Crust ***

 

 RHYTHM HERITAGE

Steely Dan's session guys form their own band

Anytime, Any Place **

A slice of cocktail funk that has a nice central riff, but of course they want to show off their musical chops so it gets a bit fussy (and sub-Dan like) in places

 

 THE RHYTHM SECTION

90's US producers and DJ's

Butter Rolls **

Might have gained another star had the drum sample (or to be more specific the tom-tom roll within it) not been so obvious

 

 RICE AND BEANS ORCHESTRA

US disco project

Peel A Banana **

Might have gained another star without the Finbarr Saunders/ooh er Missus girly vocals

 

 BUDDY RICH

He may have been the self-proclaimed greatest drummer of all time (or some such similar immodest claim), but when it came to the funk, apparently he couldn't work it out for himself and had to seek the advice of others. As far as I'm concerned drums are for keeping rhythm, not mind-numbingly boring (and pointless) solos

Big Mac ***

This starts off brilliantly, and while Rich keeps his ego in check it works well, But unsurprisingly it gets more and more ragged as it goes on, as Buddy feels the irresistible urge to get more flashy

Fight The Power **

Cover of the Isley Brothers track

 

 RIGHT ON!

Actually notorious SGA label supremo Leo Muller and a hapless bunch of (no doubt poorly-paid) sessioneers who were more likely white than black - released an album under this alias called "Soul Hits"

You Said A Bad Word **

Cover of a Joe Tex tune, more soul-like and less funky than Joe's original

Funk Factory *

This isn't funky at all, but then again I suspect much the same accusation could be levelled at Wilson Pickett's own recording

There It Is ***

It's James Brown cover time again - the bridge is excellent, the rest less so

You're The Man ***

Not heard Marvin Gaye's original, but this isn't too bad as a Blaxploitation-style groove

Outa Space *

Wretched (probably unintentionally) rocked-up take of Billy Preston's clavinet jam... and where's the clavinet?

Get On The Good Foot Part 1 ****

Actually quite good JB cover with some nice wah wah (that probably wasn't in the original), even though the James Brown "soundalike" doesn't actually sound anything like the Godfather. N.B. this is actually from another SGA LP "Soul Hits Volume 2"

Freddie's Dead ***

I guess purists would call this Blaxploitation rather than true funk, but this more-than-decent effort is still worthy of a mention (also featured on "Soul Hits Volume 2")

 

 KEITH ROBERTS

The man behind Rediffusion's Birds 'n' Brass. Also did library stuff

Override ***

Funky Slanky *

Sax Of Sorts *** 

 

 ROKOTTO

UK disco/soul/funk band. More black members than white, but most of their material was written and produced by Wayne Bickerton and Tony Waddington of Rubettes fame

Are You Ready ***

Brick House **

Workmanlike (at best) attempt at another Commodores funker

Funk Theory ***

Get On Down **

Rather let down by a lame bassline

Moonlight Dancing ***

Interesting if not-quite-there combination of start-stop drumming and squelchy synth bass

Shack Up **

Another under-par effort at covering a funk classic - slightly better than A Certain Ratio's though

 

 THE ROLLING STONES

"The world's greatest rock 'n' roll band". Black music (including reggae!) influences a lot of their work, but funk rarely features in their canon

Fingerprint File ****

Never mind Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out, it's a case of "get yer wah-wah's out" as old Rubber Lips & Co. head into blaxploitation territory. This almost wouldn't sound amiss on a mid-70's Ohio Players album

Dance ***

Not only is this more disco than their disco song "Miss You", it's also quite funky as well, featuring a horn section and heaps of conga action

Hot Stuff **

Starts off promisingly but soon gets ragged, especially the bass

 

 ROLLOX

Apparently this act is in some way connected with Richard O'Brien and the Rocky Horror Show (!)

The Funky Sailor *

Not in the slightest bit funky - should be made to walk the plank

You Know What Amin ***

B-side of the above 45. This is more like it - would have got another star, had it stuck to the original groove rather than veering off into a weak middle 8. The dreadful pun is presumably a reference to the 70's Ugandan dictator

 

 ROXY MUSIC

Garish glamsters turned lounge lizards

She Sells **

Complex and arty yet thrusting rocker features a couple of pseudo funk interludes

The Space Between ***

As slick as funk can get - by this time they had replaced their meat-and-potatoes drummer with Lalo Schifrin's more subtle sticksman, and also drafted in Kokomo's guitarist and bassist

 

 RUBBERNECK

Portland, Oregon-based band active in the 90's and early 2000's - released several albums and were apparently a big live draw in the American north west

P-Jam ****

Presumably the title is some kind of reference to the Parliament/Funkadelic sound, but this instrumental workout is much more akin to Tower of Power (who I'd rather listen to any day of the week) - great guitar and organ solos

 

 TONIO RUBIO

Italian (?) library music guy

Red Medium ***

 

 RUFUS

Mixed black and white soul-funk-rock aggregation fronted by Chaka Khan

Walk The Rock Way ****

Funk the disco way

Dancin' Mood **

Too messy, too busy

Red Hot Poker **

Main riff is okay, but has a habit off veering off into Bob James smooth jazz style interludes

One You Get Started ***

Rufusized ***

Until I saw this pun, I didn't realise that the term "supersized" had been around in the States at least since the early 70's (it's only just come into common usage in the UK, where we're now well on the way to becoming just as obese as the average American)

I Got The Right Street ***

Stax-style funk

Rags to Rufus ***

Slick instrumental with jazzy touches and some over-indulgent soloing

Swing Down Chariot ***

As the title suggests, this has a strong gospel feel about it

 

 SADE

Darling of the cheese fondue set who mistook her vapid cod-jazz-lite for something stylish and sophisticated

Cherry Pie **

Only gets a second star because of the wah-wah lick in the intro. Prior to her solo career, Sade and her backing band were a funk outfit - hope their stuff was better than this

 

 SAFFIRE

Sound like a funkier version of Silver Convention

Lay Your Boogy Down **

Rhythmically it's just about okay, but one of those that's hard to pin down the key it's in which makes it rather annoying

 

 KENNY SALMON

Session keyboardist and another library music exponent

Flying Squad **

Quite a scuzzy main riff, but has an alarming tendency to lapse into "Test card" music

 

 JAN SANDSVALL

Contemporary musician presumably of Scandinavian origin

Galisk Funk *

Bagpipes alert!

 

 SANTANA

Latin-rock pioneers. Usually a mix of black, white, and Latino

One With The Sun ***

Mellow groover that gets briskly funky in the Hammond solo

Let Me ***

Fast and frantic but definitely funky with lashings of clavinet

Reach Up ****

Carlos cranks out his wah-wah to duel with crazy Moog solo over rock-solid groove

Tell Me Are You Tired **

Parts of this are probably the funkiest Carlos & co have ever got - the electric piano solo reminds me of Patrice Rushen, which is no bad thing. Unfortunately these bits are surrounded by dreary ballad verses and slightly cheesy disco choruses

A-1 Funk *

A live jam that isn't funky in the slightest and to be avoided like the plague

 

 SBB

Supposedly Poland's greatest rock group, although I'd guess they didn't have much in the way of competition

Palamakia ****

The only real thing letting this down is the synth that sounds really cheap and nasty, but then again I suppose such things were hard to get hold of in the eastern bloc back in those days

 

 BOZ SCAGGS

Bluesy blue-eyed soul type

Lowdown *****

See Record Reviews Volume 4

What Can I Say **

 

 JANNE SCHAFFER

Swedish guitarist - did sessions for ABBA but his solo stuff leans in a Larry Carlton-style fusion direction

Bromma Express ****

Chugging number that hits the buffers with some noodly bits - you can shunt them into the sidings with a sound editor (and I have) and that adds another star, but sadly only a couple of minutes or so are left before the journey's over

 

 LALO SCHIFRIN

Soundtrack supremo

Quiet Village ****

Brooding slow-building funky version of the Exotica standard

Baia **

Messy and laboured cover of the Brazilian standard, which is probably why Lalo junked it (it only saw the light of day years later as a bonus track on a CD reissue) and released a disco version instead

 

 SCHIFTERS

French instrumental duo

Old Timmy ***

Would probably have got another star were the guitar not swirling around from one speaker to the other (if you have a sound editor, try converting to a mono mix)

Ghost **

 

 JOHN SCOFIELD

Jazz fusion guitarist

Cissy Strut *

This attempt at the (over-rated) Meters track makes the original sound good

 

 SCORCHED EARTH

Early 70's soul-like outfit produced by Ben Findon (who masterminded Billy Ocean's early hits, and also had the dubious honour of being behind that revisionistic disco "classic" by the Nolans "I'm In The Mood For Dancing")

Super Woman, Super Lover **

Might just have gained another star if not for the over-stretched "soul" vocal

 

 TOM SCOTT

Top session sax/flute/lyricon player - turned out a string of jazz-fusion grooves throughout the 70's, most of them too sophisticated to be mentioned here

Starsky and Hutch *****

The first recording used on the cop show - to the best of my knowledge never released commercially (why not? there was some great incidental music in the series too that also justifies a CD release). Bizarrely edited though - presumably to tie in with the clip where David Soul (Hutch) leaps off a wall onto the top of a car?

Gotcha **

Flat, plodding LP version of the above

Bless My Soul ***

Dirty Old Man **

Nunya ****

 

 DON SEBESKY

Jazz-fusion arranger

The Entertainer **

Another attempt at making Scott Joplin's iconic rag sound funky - guys, it just doesn't work

 

 SEA LEVEL

Offshoot of southern rockers the Allman Brothers, with a taste for fusion noodling

Fifty Four ****

Slick crossover disco-funk

 

 SEEDS OF THE EARTH

UK session musos masquerading as a black American funk band

Brother Bad ***

 

 AMBROS SEELOS

German bandleader

Mabusso ****

Sax-laden funk with shades of Manu Dibango about it - features a mighty growling wah-wah... just like the lion in the jungle!

 

 EL SENTACRUZ ENSEMBLE

Spanish ensemble

Fur Elise ***

Crazy funky and moog-laden version of Beethoven's classic music-box tune

 

 DOC SEVERINSEN

Jazz/easy trumpeter - a household name in the USA due to his long-running stint as the MD on the "Tonight" show

I Wanna Be With You ****

Doc's own take on "Pick Up The Pieces" (did AWB chase him up for plagiarism?) spiced with a hint of Maynard Ferguson and Bob James. I still like it though

You Put The Shine On Me ***

Fast and disco-like but still funky

 

 SEVEN SEAS

Miami-based disco covers project helmed by white/latino producer Ray Martinez

Do It (Til You're Satisfied) ***

Decent sax-led instrumental take on the BT Express classic

 

 SHAKATAK

Britain's answer to Bob James, but with cooing female vocals. Almost a byword for naff-jazz-lite

Easier Said Than Done **

Perhaps the ultimate in cocktail funk - pretty cheesy but just about listenable

Toot The Shoot ***

Squelchy synth bass and vocoder vocals (courtesy of the man who became Andrew Lloyd Webber's producer) - is this Britain's answer to Zapp?

 

 SHANGO

80's electro crew co-helmed by whizz-kid producer Bill Laswell of Material fame

Thank You **

Electro update of the Sly Stone track

Let's Party Down **

Similar to the above i.e. funk elements mixed with synth sounds that doesn't quite work for me

 

 SHOCK

Not the New Romantic dance troupe featuring future controversial political figure Carole Caplin, but American dance exponents from the same era - mainly black but with a couple of white faces so just about qualify for inclusion here

Crank It Up ***

Very much in the George Clinton/P-funk mode

 

 SHOWMEN

Italian combo

Voglio Restare Solo ***

JB-style workout with hints of "Licking Stick" and "Soul Limbo" about it, good musically but the singer sounds just a tad too Italian to merit a fourth star

 

 SHRIEKBACK

Post-punk outfit formed by ex-members of XTC and The Gang Of Four

My Spine Is The Bassline ***

Funkier than anything GoF could come up with

 

 LABI SIFFRE

British-born acoustic-strumming singer-songwriter of mainly black descent - Shadows sticksman Brian Bennett was among white sessioneers giving support when required

Gimme Some More ***

Rocking Chair ***

The Vulture *****

 

 SILVER CONVENTION

Disco outfit fronted by three ladies of various ethnicity, but the strings were pulled by Germans Sylvester Levay and Michael Kunze

Heart Of Stone ***

Not a bad effort, but suffers to some extent from lacking fuller instrumentation, such as horns, keyboards, percussion, and in particular a nagging funk guitar line... maybe one day I'll take this to a recording studio-owning chum of mine and add them myself

 

SIMPLY RED

Mancunian soulboy Mick Hucknall and crew

Turn It Up ****

I don't care what anyone else thinks, this is superb cocktail funk - shame about the overt political cant

 

 SKETCH

UK indie jazzers, whose album I picked up in Manchester - some of them still gig as the Sue Hawker Band, whom I later happened to see purely by chance in a boozer when visiting my home-town (Weymouth) - as they say, it's a small world

Look What You've Done To Me ***

Sounds like a low-budget version of what Donald Fagen has been inclined to crank out in recent times, and continuing the Dan connection, it also has a pseudo-Larry Carlton guitar break. If they had just stuck to the main groove it would be more than ok, but they spoil it with some unnecessary rocky interludes (a job for the old sound editor...)

 

 WOJCIECH SKOWRODSKI

Another funky Pole

Do Tych Dni Kolorowych ***

Has a sniff of "Superstition" about it

 

 SKYLITE

Italian-American keep-it-in the-family disco project

Boogie Butt ****

Lightning strikes twice - another track featuring sleighbells! This takes over a minute to really get going, but stick with it as it's well worth the wait

 

 SLIDE FIVE

Acid jazzers

Outerspace **

 

 SLIK

Scottish band that were marketed as teeny-bop fodder a la compatriots The Bay City Rollers but were in fact seasoned performers, featuring Midge Ure who later gained more lasting fame with Ultravox among other things

Dancerama **

This has moments of genuine promise with a clavinet riff and "Shaft" style hi-hat (if not the bizarre Bach "Toccata"-style organ rip-off), but ultimately it just ends up as more Coulter & Martin pop bubblegum fare

 

 SLY & THE FAMILY STONE

Mixed-race aggregation (but still primarily black) that gained legendary status as the average rock fan's token funk band (although there wasn't actually that much in the way of funk)

Thank You ***

The at-the-time innovative popping bass now sounds somewhat intrusive and an unwelcome visitor to the party

 

 TUNNIE SMITH

This southern lady (or is it gent?) may likely be black, but I suspect at least some of those who backed her musically were not

Do That To Me *****

See Record Reviews Volume 10

 

 THE SMITHS

If only Morrissey had called it a day when they folded, instead of spending the next two decades regurgitating his one-dimensional shtick with ever-diminishing returns. Apparently other members were involved in a pre-Smiths funk project, but to my knowledge no recordings have ever surfaced

Barbarism Begins At Home **

Marred (ho ho) by horrible 80's production. They did a much better live version of this on the Tube

 

 DAVID SNELL

British harpist, much in demand for orchestral and library sessions

Harp A Go Go ***

Pleasant, lightly funky instrumental with plenty of harp glissando

 

 SNOWBOY

British percussionist who usually specialises in latin-style sounds

The New Avengers **

Frantic version of the TV theme, with wince-inducing out-of-tune trumpet solo

 

 ZDZISBAWA SOLNICK

Try as they might, the Commies certainly couldn't make Poland a funk-free zone

Zyj Sobie Sa ***

Great clavinet-led verses. not so good "I'm Not Your Stepping Stone"-style choruses

 

 SOM NOSSA

Brazilian prog-rock trio

Pra Swingar ****

Pra Segurar **

Vida De Artista **

Black Rio *

A jarring concoction of funk and samba

 

 SONNY AND THE MAYTELS

Another front for (probably white and British) session musos covering soul tracks for the budget market - the album was titled "The Sound of Philadelphia", featuring songs by those well-known Philly dwellers James Brown, Isaac Hayes and Ike and Tina Turner

The Payback ***

Surprisingly decent stab at a lesser-known Brown track that sadly fades rather soon and suddenly, almost as if the producers have decided "well, it's not really going anywhere is it?"

 

 MARK SOSKIN

Fusion keyboardist

Walk Tall **

This has moments of promise, but overall is too bland  - sounds like a lesser track you would find on a late-70's Crusaders album

 

 THE SOUL PATROL

Another faceless soul and disco covers band probably recorded on a shoestring budget - I'm only presuming here, but people who did this sort of thing tended to be white rather than black

The Pride ****

Dare I say it, but as much as I love the Isley Brothers this version of their tune is better (well certainly funkier anyway) than the original

 

 JEAN-CHRISTOPHE SOULLIER & BRUNO LASNIER

French (?) production duo

Tips Of A Soulman ***

Acid-jazz style groove

 

 THE SOUND STYLISTICS

Contemporary "all-star" crew put together for a library label recording, also released commercially

Play Deep Funk ***

This is actually a rating for their album based on soundclips I listened to on Amazon. It doesn't sound worth splashing out for as it's just as much acid-jazz as funk, although with James "JTQ" Taylor in their ranks that's no surprise. It also suffers from the "modern" sound - I remember back in the 80's The La's mainman Lee Mavers was considered rather eccentric by the rock press for having an obsession with recording on 60's equipment, complete with "60's dust". I concurred with the hacks at the time, but nowadays recordings like the above have led me to believe that Lee wasn't such a loony after all. Whilst on the subject of of contemporary recordings, there don't actually appear to be any black funk bands out there today, which is rather sad...

 

 SOUNDS ORCHESTRAL

The easy-listening project of John Schroeder and Johnny Pearson

Superstition **

Yet another copy of a song by a certain blind black soul singer (no, not Ray Charles, the other one), that might have made it to three stars if they hadn't forgotten to put the actual melody in

 

 SPAGHETTI HEAD

UK sessioneers Clem Cattini and Les Hurdle do their own thing

Funky Axe **

Another one with the old "For The Love Of Money" intro as its likely blueprint (even down to the heavily reverbed-bass). Starts promisingly but then goes nowhere fast as apart from drums and bass there's nothing else happening (maybe they were also inspired by David Essex's "Rock On"?) - if they haven't done so already, someone should get hold of this and add guitars and stuff, and then maybe it would really be worth a listen

 

 SPANDAU BALLET

New Romantic lynchpins - always talked a better fight than they delivered

Chant No. 1 ***

I loved this when it came out - not so sure now. As usual, the frontman's foghorn vocal is a bit off-putting, but the rap really is excruciating

Coffee Club **

Potentially decent afro-funk style effort let down by an unsure and over-compensating rhythm section

Glow **

Paint Me Down **

 

 SPEEDOMETER

British crew that has released several albums since the new millennium - what I've heard on Youtube suggests they try a bit too hard and are yet-more Meters wannabees, which is bad news in my book

Funky Miracle **

Talking of the Meters: a cover version of one of their tracks, replete with obligatory pinging snare sound

Soul Safari ***

Take Me On ***

Most of their stuff is instrumental, but this one features an annoying Beyoncé-style vocalist

Monkey Stick **

Pucker Up ***

Lover And A Friend ***

Work It Out ***

Rubber Neck ***

 

 SPK

80's industrial indie types that featured future mainstream movie scorer Graeme Revell in their ranks

Junk Funk *

Actually more synth-pop-dance than industrial noise, but sans funk of any kind, never mind the junk variety

 

 EDWIN STARR

Black Motown singer who cultivated a loyal following on the British soul scene, later moving to Blighty to live and work

I Just Wanna Do My Thing ***

Here he's backed by the cream of (mainly) white British sessioneers including Simon Phillips, Pip Williams, Pete Wingfield et al. Great funky first half, but then it gets a bit self-indulgent and messy in the (mistaken) belief that something different should happen to sustain the interest

 

 STEELY DAN

By the mid-70's the Dan had mutated from your average west-coast band of long-haired white dudes into a studio-based collective, with the core of Fagan & Becker hiring the cream of both black and white session players for their ever more ambitious works

Green Earrings ****

Josie ***

The Fez ***

They said this was their "disco" track - I'd call it cocktail funk (and I mean that in a positive way)

 

 STIMULIN

Early 80's act trumpeted by their mentor (and ID style magazine guru Perry Haines) as "to funk what the Sex Pistols were to punk". Unfortunately despite such high praise that prediction never happened, to the point where i can't even track down any of their recordings (assuming they made any!)

 

 STOCK AITKEN & WATERMAN

According to Don McLean (in his song "American Pie"), the day the music died was when Buddy Holly's plane crashed. He was wrong - pop music began dying a slow and painful death from the late 80's onwards, once this lot got a stranglehold on the industry

Roadblock **

Despite making a killing (in more ways than one) in the biz, they were still irked that they had no credibility in certain circles (I'd like to say from music lovers in general, but specifically the UK soul scene, of which Pete Waterman had once been part of), so decided to put this single out masquerading as some anonymous hitherto-undiscovered "rare groove" classic from the 70's in order to make some kind of point. Apparently it fooled some at the time (the rare groove scene is probably second only to Northern Soul in terms of musical snobbery), but in hindsight one can easily pick out the tell-tale signs that it was produced in the 80's

 

 BARRY STOLLER

Library music composer - his everlasting contribution to popular culture is the "Match of the Day" theme

Funky Spider *

Really Funky ***

Not bad with loads of wah-wah, but to call this really funky is stretching it a bit

Disco King ***

Might actually be considered slightly funkier than "Really Funky"

 

 STONEGROUND

Started out as a massive hippy travelling revue but trimmed their numbers and their musical excesses as they went on

Chica Boom ***

Vaguely Santana-like sound with some nice Hammond flourishes

 

 HARRY STONEHAM

Session/easy organist

I Feel Good ****

Another James Brown cover, and one of the best (if you don't mind it on the cheesy side)

Hold On I'm Comin' ***

Funkier than Sam & Dave

 

 NICK STRAKER BAND

Once had a moderate hit with a tune that featured the "back of a fag packet" lyrical rhyming couplet "A walk in the park, a step in the dark"

A Little Bit Of Jazz ***

A little bit of synth-dominated disco-jazz-funk to put it more accurately - better than that suggests, with a nice piano solo

 

 STRETCH

A.k.a. "The Bogus Fleetwood Mac" - I think they were years ahead of their time: the first "tribute" act

Why Did You Do it? ****

 

 STYLUS

Aussie blend of soul rock and disco - not dissimilar to (kinda) compatriots the Bee Gees, but without the falsettos

Funky Music ****

At its funkiest during the sax solo

 

 DONNA SUMMER

She started out as a singer on the German session scene before being spotted by disco pioneer Georgio Moroder

Love To Love You Baby ***

Yes, the horny disco anthem, except it's more funk than disco

 

 SUNFIGHTER

Queen-alikes who shared the same label (EMI) and producer (Roy Thomas Baker)

Cafe A Go-Go (Instrumental Version) ***

Slightly disco-cheesy at times but still a commendable effort in the vein of the Glitter Band's "Make You Blind" (but don't bother with the vocal version though!)

 

 SUPER - JAY

An alias for Peter Brown (see above)

Super - Jay Love Theme **

 

 SURFACE NOISE

More early 80's brit-jazz-funkers

The Scratch ***

Only a step away from Shakatak at times

 

 THE SURPRISE SISTERS

Rock/soul crossover chicks

Watch Out **

You can imagine this being featured in that 70's music-biz melodrama "Rock Follies"

 

 SWEET

UK glamsters - perhaps the most obvious (and unfortunate) targets of the scornful epithet "truck drivers in drag"

Funk It Up ***

See Record Reviews Volume 10

 

 SWEET SENSATION

Black Mancunian vocal quartet a la The Drifters, Stylistics et al. They apparently had a mainly black backing band, but I suspect that white sessioneers were employed on their recordings. Producers Tony Hatch and David Parton were certainly honkies

Mr Cool *****

Written by the aforementioned David Parton - see Record Reviews Volume 1 for more details. By the way, this features the "laughing bag" novelty item that was briefly popular in the mid-70's (it was a plastic device inside a drawstring cloth bag - when you pressed a secret button it would emit a cackle that sounded like an evil version of the "Laughing Policeman"). Like everyone else, I had one at the time, but of course chucked it away not long after (as you did back in those days). Wonder if there are still any around, and what they're worth now?

 

 GABOR SZABO

Hungarian jazz guitarist who split for the US when the Russian communists invaded

The Biz ***

Decent if over-slick (sexy breathy girly vocals alert!) jazz-funk fusion groove, over which Gabor's style doesn't really sit that well

 

 TALKING HEADS

Arty New-Wavers. Much has been made of their explorations into black music, but in my opinion they reference Mother Africa far more than her African-American offspring

The Great Curve **

A bit like the Heads' head honcho David Byrne - nervous and twitchy

 

 ALAN TEW

Among other things was musical director for Anita Harris

Pink Panther ***

See Record Reviews Volume One

The Prowler ***

Sounds like a funky cop show theme

 

 TAUDI SYMPHONY

90's French Fusioneers

T.O.D.I ***

Good groove given the kiss of death by an MC/rapper type making totally superfluous noises over it

 

 TELEX

Belgian pioneering synth-pop trio

Drama drama ***

Electro-funk

 

 JOHNNY TEUPEN GROUP

German harpist und freunde

Tropical Scene ***

Funky 12-bar

 

 TIERRA

Latino soulsters

Street Scene **

 

 TOGETHER

Mainly black soul/funk band, but a couple of white guys are involved

Chance With You ****

Less discofied cover of the Brother To Brother song

Hold Me Baby **

 

 TOM TOM CLUB

Talking Heads rhythm section with family and friends

Genius Of Love ***

Bouncy yet laid-back vibe includes namechecking some funk heroes

 

 GARY TOMS EMPIRE

Mixed black and white US aggregation

(7-6-5-4-3-2-1) Blow Your Whistle ****

Upbeat discofied version of Blue Mink's "Get Up" (written by Roger "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing" Cook) - this was also covered by the Rimshots who had a minor hit, but Gary's take has a great extended instrumental jam

Slow & Funky ***

Do Your Thing ***+

This Crazy World ***

Feel That Funky Groove ***

Stand Up And Shout ***

Not unlike "Blow Your Whistle" - a touch on the fast side but some good instrumental sections

Party Hardy ***

Again a little fast but they certainly put a lot of effort into it

 

 TONES ON TAIL

Splinter group of goth-punk rockers Bauhous

There's Only One *

Goth-funk? Not a good combination

 

 THE TOP OF THE POPPERS

Like the "Chart Hits" crew, their raison d'etre compelled them to copy funk tunes on a shoestring whenever the odd one entered the higher echelons of the charts - they were probably grateful it didn't happen that often

Superstition *

The guitarist is trying (and failing quite badly at times) so hard to emulate the clavinet riff, he's oblivious to the rhythm underneath this dreadful rehash of the Stevie Wonder track

The Groove Line *

All the components are in place for this cover of Heatwave's hit, but unlike the original it fails to stoke up any groove whatsoever and quickly goes off the rails

 

 TOWER OF POWER

From Oakland, California and still going 40 years on - whatever the line-up, there's a mix of black white and Latino musicians in there. Their clipped syncopated sound is sometimes a little too clever and intricate for its own good

Drop It In The Slot ****

Ebony Jam ****

Give Me The Proof ****

If I Play My Cards Right **

Love Bug ****

Maybe It'll Rub Off ****

On The Serious Side **

Only So Much Oil In The Ground ****

Soul Vaccination ****

Stroke '75 ***

Vuela Por Noche **

This is TOP at their most frustrating: an out-an-out funk instrumental that's way too fast, bitty and jerky to groove to

Walking Up Hip Street ****

We Came To Play *****

What Is Hip **

Probably their best known tune and considered their calling card, but this doesn't really do it for me

You're The Most *****

Funk The Dumb Stuff ***

More contemporary effort that loses a star due to of-its-time overly bright snare sound

So I Got To Groove ***

Ditto the above

 

 TRAMP

British blues band featuring moonlighting members of Fleetwood Mac

Funky Money ***

Funky rhythm & blues

 

 PAT TRAVERS

Canadian blues/hard rock guitarist

Need Love **

Although pretty heavy there's a definite funk feel about this track (featuring Iron Maiden's drummer!) - at least for the first couple of minutes anyway before the riffola takes over

 

 TRIBE

To quote their debut album title, an ethnic stew that started off with a more rock/soul vibe before the funk took over

Tribe **

Work To Do ***

Not the Isley Brothers' song

Baby Feet ****

Sizzling instrumental topped by spacey moog noodling

Firesign ***

Bits of this remind me of Sun, but there's also some odd Steely Dan-style chord progressions, and somewhat bizarrely the horns play the opening line of "Baby Elephant Walk"

Celebrate Your Love ***

An otherwise good funk workout let down by a touch too much popping bass

Ain't Nothin' But A Party ***

Funky Reggae **

Admirable but flawed attempt to meld the genres - a novelty item really

 

 JACK TROMBEY

Dutch library music contributor and composer of the "Van Der Valk" theme - thankfully not all his stuff was so toe-curling

Feeling Heavy ***

 

 (JOHN) TROPEA

US jazz-fusion guitarist - best known for the solo in Deodato's "2001"

The Funk You See Is The Funk You Do ****

There's a couple of needlessly-softer bits in this, but otherwise as the chant goes: funk that mutha!

 

 TRUTH

American (?) mid-70's combo - they were produced by hard rock specialist Eddie Kramer (Hendrix, Kiss, etc)

I Can't Go On ***

Very uptempo with grizzled vocal and plenty of Moog rifferama

 

 TWO MEN, A DRUM MACHINE AND A TRUMPET

Fine Young Cannibals spin-off

Make It Funky *

Make it piss-poor 80's dance music - the only thing this has in common with James Brown is the title

 

 UK PLAYERS

More early 80's jazz-funkers

Everybody Get Up ***

A muscular mix of funk and 80's dance

 

 ULTRAFUNK

UK sessioneers formed their own group to do mainly instrumental covers plus a few original efforts. Their album "Meat Heat" now fetches silly money

Sting Your Jaws **

The guitar work is good but the bass playing's not so good, and there's way too much disco-style open hi-hat going on

Buffalo Soldier **

A cover (but by Quincy Jones rather than Bob Marley) that's blaxploitation in feel, but again the bass isn't that hot

Who Is He And What Is He To You **

Another version of the oft-covered Bill Withers tune - again a blaxploitation-style groove, this time let down by the snare drum coming out of only one speaker (and like the Creative Source cover it goes on for far too long)

Boogie Joe The Grinder ****

Strangely enough, the second cover from the Quincy Jones "Body Heat" LP - this kicks lumps out of the Q original

Use Me ***

Another Bill Withers cover, and again a more-blaxploitation-than-pure-funk effort

Sweet F.A. ****

Kung Fu Man ***

Attempt to cash-in on the popularity of David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine - Mr Superbad's rap rather detracts from the groove

Indigo Country ****

Like a funkier version of something the Love Unlimited Orchestra would do

Meat Heat ***

A more disco-than-funk instrumental that doesn't really go anywhere despite being 9 minutes long - scrapes a third star on another listen

 

 UPP

UK jazz rockers originally featured Jeff Beck

Get Down In The Dirt *

Another performance I recently caught on the Beeb's "Guitar Heroes" prog (presumably originally aired on OGWT?). Starts off promisingly with the band cooking up a groove under a moog solo, then all too soon it goes awry as Jeff gets all widdly-widdly and the rest lose the vibe as it descends into fusion hell

Get Down In The Dirt ***

Although not quite on the nose, this original LP version is a considerable improvement on the above - drawbacks are a Beck wig-out and a falsetto-vocal cod-soul interlude, but both are thankfully brief. Bassist Stephen Amazing (not his given name I suspect) may well not be too modest but his contribution is certainly of note  - a rare case of popping not getting on my nerves

 

 MICHAL URBANIAK

Polish-born US-based fusion fiddle-scraper

New York Polka ****

Urbaniak mixes his contrasting cultural backgrounds with surprising success

Lyricon **

The funky bit is in the middle of a suite and doesn't last long. Perhaps just as well as it gets a bit self-indulgent

 

 DAVE VALENTIN

Latino fusion flautist

Do It Again **

Funked up version of the Steely Dan classic - far too much slap bass going on for my liking

 

 MARCOS VALLE

Brazilian singer and songwriter

Mentira ***

 

 VANILLA ICE

Much-derided anaemic rapper

Play That Funky Music *

Other than the occasional slowed-down chorus sample, this bears no similarity with the sublime original (see below) whatsoever - to be avoided at all costs

 

 THE VAST MAJORITY

Another SGA-linked cheapskate disco cash-in project

Muddy Sneakers ***

Salsa Woman ***

In my original review I said they sounded a mess (and they do), but these two cuts just about pass muster as OK funk workouts as long as you don't listen too hard to the somewhat ropey playing

 

 STEVIE RAY VAUGHN

Texan blues guitarist

Superstition **

Too busy and forced, with a whacking great snare - it might have been recorded by a Stevie, but it's no wonder (ho ho)

 

 GIL VENTURA

Italian (ch)easy saxophonist

Foot Stompin' Music **

Just-about passable cover of Hamilton Bohannon's tribal funk workout

 

 THE VENTURES

60's instrumental beat group. Got a bit funky from the late 60's

Licking Stick **

Early venture (ho ho) into funk territory with a so-so James Brown cover

Country Funk And The Canned Head *

Some boogie in the style of Canned Heat, but no funk

Baretta's Theme *****

Stanking version of Grusin's cop show theme

Gotta Be Stronger ***

Another dirty groove, unfortunately unnecessarily sweetened by girly vocals

The Stroke **

Disco-funk workout with more girly vocal, the bulk of it is pretty good but the choruses are really cheesy (if you chop them out with a sound editor then another star can be added)

The Streets of San Francisco **

Another cop theme given the treatment - starts out OK (even if the solo guitar is a bit Clappo-like), then veers off into a section that I'm sure was never in the original that ruins everything funkwise

Theme From SWAT ***

Superstition ***

Passable take of Stevie Wonder's funkiest moment - the clavinet and wah-wah work hard to take attention away from the plodding bass line

 

 VIN ZEE

Early 80's Italian dance project

Funky Bebop **

Not that much funk but even less bebop so not quite as bad as it sounds

 

 VITESSE

Dutch band featuring Herman Brood who went on to become the country's biggest rock star

Funky But Clean ***

 

 MIROSLAV VITOUS

Czech bassist and co-founder of Weather Report before going solo

Basic Laws ***

A decent groove to start with, but it goes on for so long that even players of the calibre of Herbie Hancock start to struggle to hold it down

Aim Your Eye *

Sounds like a funkier version of "Bitches Brew" (that's not good by the way)

 

 VIBRAPHONIC

Acid Jazz regular Roger Beaujolais and chums

Funkly ***

This isn't too bad as far as cocktail-funk goes, but the vibes don't sound like real vibes

 

 V.I.P. CONNECTION

French studio crew who as Voyage later scored with the disco classic "From East to West"

West Coast Drive ****

 

 VICTOR VOGEL

Canadian composer

March Of The Athletes ***

Commissioned for the 1976 Montreal Olympics, it's another stab at funky marching music, again not too badly done

 

 HAL VINCENT

One of the legions of cheesy-listening organ grinders active in the 60's and early 70's

Funky Nashhville *

Not remotely funky, or with any country influence that is implied by the title- it does sound a bit like one of Alan Hawkshaw's groovy beat workouts, but that's like saying FC United are a bit like Man United

 

 JOHN WAGNER COALITION

Studio aggregation put together by US country rock producer for an album of James Brown covers

Cold Sweat *****

Coldblooded ***

Mother Popcorn ****

Only denied the complete set by the vocal chant

My Thang ***

Out of Sight **

Sex Machine ***

The best of the white versions of the seminal funk classic, but then again there's not exactly stiff competition

Superbad Superslick **

 

 BRIAN WADE

Yet another in the long list of library music practitioners

Dance Centre **

The guitar and synths are quite good on this - unfortunately they're backed by slap bass and drum (machine?) with massive snare sound (it was the 80's)

 

 JOHNNY WAKELIN

Supper-club crooner who cashed-in on the popularity of Mohammed Ali

Doctor Frankenstein's Disco Party **

Like a disco version of Bobby "Boris" Pickett's "Monster Mash". If you ignore the dreadful joke lyrics the verses are quite funky. Sadly it hits disco cheese central for the choruses

 

 LES WANTED

French lounge-meets-fusion project

Six, Quatre, Nous ****

 

 EDDIE WARNER

European library music man

Crazy Fiddles **

Funky yee-haa

Devil's Anvil **

Busy bass is too much in your face, and no-one clicks with the drummer

 

 WAS TUN BAND

German outfit

Es Geht ***

Decent backing track sullied by punishing vocals

 

 WEATHER REPORT

Seminal jazz-rock group featuring Austrian émigré and keyboards wizard Joe Zawinul

Cucumber Slumber ***

Shows that you don't necessarily need a guitar to get funky

 

 ROGER WEBB

Yet another library composer

Flying Objects ****

Deep Night ***

 

 HEIDELINDE WEIS

German vocalist

Der Supermann **

 

 WENDY & LISA

Prince's sapphic sidekicks

Everyday ***

Perhaps no coincidence this sounds like his purpleness

 

 WET WILLIE

Soulful southern rockers

Baby Fat ****

Only heard a snippet of the recorded version, but recently caught an excellent live rendition of this on a vintage Whistle Test programme dedicated to the Southern Rock scene

Grits Ain't Groceries **

 

 WHAM!

George Michael and his air-guitar playing chum - started out with faux-funk before moving onto mock-motown

Wham Rap **

Club Tropicana ***

Although its success and consequent connotation killed-off any credibility it may have had, I still think it's half-decent cocktail funk - and certainly better than any of the rubbish George has put out solo

 

 WILD CHERRY

70's US rockers turned funkateers (as their signature song attests)

Play That Funky Music *****

The archetypal track for white boys playing funk - highly muscular but still grooves mightily. Pedantic note: for some unfathomable reason, in recent times the media have taken to referring to this track as "Play That Funky Music White Boy" (sometimes with "white boy" in brackets). Well, I'd like to put the record straight: there was no "white boy" in the title of the 45 when it was originally released, it was simply "Play That Funky Music" (well, that's how it was on the label of my copy!)

I Feel Sanctified ***

Yet another Commodores cover, done in a "Play That Funky Music" style (even has the same horn lines)

The Lady Wants Your Money ***

The best of the rest of a debut album that is practically "Play That Funky Music" plus a load of second-rate retreads

What In The Funk Do You See **

About as lame as the punning title

Are You Boogieing Around On Your Daddy ****

A later effort from the boys as they get a bit harder and faster on what was becoming a fast-fading formula

Hot To Trot ****

Electrified Funk ***

Put Yourself In My Shoes ***

Lana **

Don't Stop, Get Off ***

Benefits from not featuring main man Robert Parissi's often tiresome vocals

If You Want My Love ***

Hold On To Your Hiney **

The formula was really beginning to outstay its welcome by this time

Keep On Playing That Funky Music *

A pitiful last-ditch attempt to milk what made them in the first place - unsurprisingly their label dropped them after this

 

 WILD FANTASY

Disco project overseen by the producer of The Brotherhood of Man (!)

Funky People ***

In truth more disco-y than funky, but still has some nice clavinet action and a tight horn section, and only let down by a rather shrill girly chorus

 

 CHRIS WILLIAMS

Australian DJ

The Funky Get Down ***

Kool And The Gang-style party funk that would be excellent were it not for the shockingly bad bass player - sounds like he's using a pick (a cardinal sin in my book)

 

 RICHARD WRIGHT

A.K.A. Rick Wright, keyboardist for "Floyd"

Funky Deux **

This laid-back instrumental actually starts out quite promisingly in a library-funk manner, before the self-indulgent solos on sax and guitar (but not keyboards despite Rick being head honcho here) all get a bit too much

 

 ROY YOUNG

British 60's/70's throaty singer/pianist whose music was rooted in American blues, jazz and soul - a kind of cross between Dr John and Blood, Sweat and Tears (and/or Chicago)

Mr. Funky *

No funk here whatsoever, but instead a bizarre medley of some gospel-soaked rhythm and blues, followed by a bongo-heavy frenzied jazz instrumental that sounds like something played in a nightclub scene in a swinging 60's spy movie

Give It All To You **

Perhaps this track should have been called Mr Funky? Unlike the above there's definite signs of funk... well, as much as can expect from this guy

Lady *

Messy instrumental jam... followed by some heavy-handed free jazz - why does he insist on lumping two totally separate pieces under one title?

 

 FRANK ZAPPA

The Marmite man of popular music - there's no middle ground with this guy, you either love him or loathe him. I fall firmly into the latter camp, seeing him as a clever dick who wasted whatever musical talent he may have had

Samba Funk *

Not funk, not samba either - just Zappa's usual self-indulgence

 

 ANDRZEJ ZAUCH

Another Pole-funker

Use Me ***

Well, that's what I call it anyway - it's either a cover or a rip-off of the Bill Withers tune. Impressive backing let down by shouty vocals

 

 PAOLO ZAVALLONE

Italian bandleader/library music provider

Papillon Rouge ****

Big John ***

 

 MIRDZA ZIVERE

Latvian dude

Saules Ritmi **

Zozefino ****

Heavy moog action that proves that the funk knows no barriers - even the Iron Curtain!

The holy trinity of white funk?

THE "WHITE MEN CAN'T FUNK" DISCO IS AVAILABLE FOR SESSIONS IN THE GREATER MANCHESTER AREA - EMAIL ME FOR DETAILS...

Author's note: Just in case you're wondering, all relevant cover versions of "Theme From Shaft" have deliberately been excluded from this feature (for the same reason as "2001" i.e. they may be funky but they're not really funk) - maybe one day I'll get around to my own examination of that particular track and its many interpretations...

DISCLAIMER: for those outraged or up-in-arms over my critique, please remember that all comments and ratings in this feature are a PERSONAL OPINION that you are free to agree or disagree with. After all, as a sage once said: opinions are like noses (or if you want a crude version, arseholes)... everybody's got one!

THANKS TO ALL THOSE WHO HAVE POSTED ON YOUTUBE IN MORE RECENT TIMES - AS JOHNNY NASH SAYS: "THE MORE I FIND OUT, THE LESS I KNOW"!

|Jack|LK's|Bmthbeat|FATJ|Reviews|WGS|Bits|

gavinunderhill.co.uk and all associated webpages © Gavin Underhill July 2008 onwards. Should you wish to contact me, then click here*

 *if you are having trouble accessing Microsoft Outlook when clicking on the email link, then try right-clicking over the link and a "copy email" option may appear

DEAR VISITOR, PLEASE NOTE: this is a non-profit-making site that is NOT commercially sponsored, but although it's cheap to maintain it's not free! So if you have found it useful, beneficial or enlightening in some way and feel moved to make a donation towards the running costs of keeping it online, then please get in touch...