‘Cold Little Heart’ is the opening track off Michael Kiwanuka’s second album Love & Hate. Difficult to pigeonhole, unless you have my evident skills…. orchestral, psychedelic, funk rock. Very cool, whatever.
We finish the week with something a little weird and wonderful. Connan Mockasin’s ‘I’m the Man, That Will Find You’ mimics and evokes to great effect. Despite the R&B machismo of the chorus, its psychedelic funk production has to be heard to be believed. The song features on his 2013 album Caramel. Have a great weekend.
To some, Wood, Brass & Steel’s ‘Funkanova’ is an archetypal jazz funk track. To others, it’s simply a disco instrumental. To the clubbers that continued to dance to its tune many years after the band disappeared, it is verging on proto deep house. In 19767, the band recorded one album, self-titled its release on the Turbo label, and then promptly broke up. Have a good weekend.
Dornik is back, two years after the release of his well-received, self-titled debut. The evolution from Jessie Ware’s touring drummer to standalone R&B star has been so startling that his arty sound has been compared to that of Frank Ocean, Miguel and Raury. With ‘God Knows’, I am thinking more Croydon’s answer to Anderson .Paak. Long may it continue.
In 1977, the Parliament entourage released a long player called Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome. Yes, that’s right. Written by George Clinton, Bernie Worrell and Bootsy Collins, the simply named ‘Flash Light’ closes the album on a momentous high; all channelled through Worrell’s killer synth-bassline and Clinton’s otherwordly vocals.
Singer John Mayer’s eleventh album The Search for Everything was released in January. It’s a break-up album and the funky opener ‘Moving on and Getting Over’ puts it simply. It’s a return to his a more blue-eyed soulful side after his dalliance with sounds of Laurel Canyon.
Back to 1983, before I forget to say…”I’ll be your lollipop/You can lick me everywhere.” James Mtume was part of Miles Davis’s band, full of avant-garde, obscure fusion jazz. But the ’80s came along and he and his band started creating a far more commercial soul sound. I stumbled across ‘Juicy Fruit’ years after its release, via one of the Classic Mastercuts compilations that I came to love in the early ’90s. Then, when it was famously sampled by Biggie Smalls for his debut single, the song evolved from a certified slow jam groove into something far more juicaaay. Have a relaxing Easter break.
In 1983, 17-year-old Harlem singer Jackie Stoudemire released ‘Dancing’ on label TAP Records. It’s an obscure late disco track beloved by crate-diggers. However, indie-pop merchant Jens Lekman heard it and used its insatiable groove on ‘#29’ of his Postcards undertaking. Throughout 2015, Lekman wrote and released a new song (“Postcard”) every week. And I thought a song a day was tough…
It’s a buttery start to the week for I’ve just learned that Al Jarreau died yesterday. His canon of work that so seamlessly bridged pop, jazz funk and R&B, is largely lost on me; mainly because it so seamlessly bridged pop, jazz funk and R&B. However, after much of his most celebrated recordings has passed, he wrote and recorded this Nile Rodgers-produced tune for a TV series that left an indelible feelgood mark on my memory. R.I.P.
This week, the mythic William Onyeabor died at home, in Enugu, southeast Nigeria, aged 70. Onyeabor was a pioneering electronic-funk musician who extraordinarily self-released 9 ground-breaking albums between 1977-1985. He composed, recorded, pressed and printed the work at Wilfilms Limited—his personal pressing plant in Enugu. As David Byrne said this week, wherever he’s gone, it’s sure to be a place with a lot of heart and some killer grooves. RIP William. Have a great weekend.
No better way to end 2016 than to post a key cut off one of the best albums of the year. ‘Am I Wrong’ features on Anderson. Paak’s long player Malibu, and like much of the album it’s a collaboration. In this case, it’s the turn of ScHoolboy Q to break Paak’s smooth delivery on what can only be described as a deep funk groove that should make André 3000 and Big Boi blush. Have a fantastic New Year’s Eve!
Good morning everyone. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and London’s Cymande were obviously thinking of Chicago’s funk soul brother number one Curtis Mayfield when they dreamt up ‘Brothers On The Slide’. This “rare groove” featured on their 1974 album Promised Heights. Have a great week.
My favourite songs of 2003 and in no particular order:
Honourable mentions also go to: Sun Kil Moon for ‘Carry Me Ohio‘; U.N.P.O.C. for ‘Amsterdam‘; The Postal Service for ‘Such Great Heights‘; Junior Senior for ‘Move Your Feet‘; The Weakerthans for ‘Plea From A Cat Named Virtute‘; and The Killers for ‘Mr. Brightside‘.
Bringing together two artists that have featured on this blog before, Soft Hair is the combined inspiration of Connan Mockasin and Sam Dust (aka LA PRIEST). They may be singular as solo artists, but as a duo they fit. I’m mean, hey, look at that snake! The sound of ‘Lying Has To Stop’, the lead single off their self-titled debut, is funky pop, but reassuringly kooky.
Rio 2016. Brasil! In no particular order, other than chronology:
The most honourable mentions also go to: Francisco Alves for ‘Aquarela Do Brasil‘, Jorge Ben for ‘Mas Que Nada‘ and ‘Oba La Vem Ela‘, Os Mutantes for ‘A Minha Menina‘; Novos Baianos for ‘O Samba Da Minha Terra‘; and Sergio Mendes for ‘Fanfarra Cabua-Le-Le‘.