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Straight Ahead Funk

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cox.jpg maze.jpg
castor.jpg parliament.jpg

Danny Cox : Hot Down In Chile
taken from the album “Feel So Good” on Casablanca (1974)

Maze ft. Frankie Beverly : Time Is On My Side
taken from their self-titled album on Captiol (1977)

Jimmy Castor Bunch : Potential
taken from the album “Butt Of Course…” on Atlantic (1974)

Parliament : The Motor-Booty Affair
taken from the album “Motor Booty Affair” on Casablanca (1978)

Sometimes I have to remind myself to return to the basics. I look back on the days when I was just starting to search for dancefloor firecrackers, and although I didn’t know much about the breadth of the world’s musical pyrotechnics, I could tell what was fun to dance to. Funk provided a perfect starting point. The motivation behind the music may be quite straightforward- feel good, get loose, laugh a little- but the syncopated interplay between the different sounds reflects a complexity uncomprehendible. Jagged ups and downs pull the song in different directions at once. Guitar darts away from clavinet while both twist and bend through the manipulations of a bobbing foot pedal. Whether the singer is speaking about South American politics or a bootylicious femme, there’s an equal sense of humor and intense urgency. Goofy, absurd, cartoonish voices lead into epic screeches and grunts delivered from the bottom of the belly where rawness resides. To me, funk was never simply the soundtrack to Soultrain and blaxploitation films; it always held the potential for transcendence. Listening to some of my old favorites today (check the breakdown at the end of Motor-Booty!) I’m reminded of just how close I can get to heaven on Earth.