=Monday, July 28, 2008

Funk Inc. - Bowlegs - Prestige

Trunk of F.U.N.K. singles is back again this week with the first of what I expect to be many jazz funk sides to be presented here.

Bowlege -Funk Inc. - Prestige

Ohio-native Bobby Watley began performing as a drummer at the age of 15. Later, while working alongside a variety of organists, including Winston Walls, Manuel Riggins, and Lonnie Smith, he made the decision to switch to the organ himself. Mostly teaching himself to play, he has also acknowledge insight from acclaimed players such as Brother Jack McDuff. In 1969, after a request by the owner of the Indianapolis club Surf Side Seven for a house band to back vocalists, he pulled together guitarist Steve Weekley, tenor saxophonist Eugene Barr, conga player Cecil Hunt, and former James Brown drummer Jimmy Munford, who collectively came to be known as Funk Inc. During their work at Surf Side Seven, Funk Inc. caught the attention of Jack McDuff and Houston Person. Here's where a couple of conflicting stories begin to emerge. Some references indicate that the band sent a demo recording to Bob Porter, a producer at Prestige, with a letter of recommendation from McDuff, while a different story indicates that McDuff and Person passed word on to Porter directly (if anyone out there has a more definitive answer, I'd certainly appreciate more accurate information). Regardless of how they got there, Funk Inc. was soon signed to Jazz-Funk powerhouse Prestige Records. Today's selection, "Bowlegs", is taken from Funk Inc.'s first LP for Prestige, "Funk Inc.", which is the only Funk Inc. record produced by Bob Porter. The band recorded two more 'acid-jazz' LPs for Prestige, "Chicken Lickin'" and "Hangin' Out", before trying to move to slicker production in the mid-70's. The pressure and disagreement of reinventing the sound of the group proved to be too much as Funk Inc. disbanded in 1976. In 1995, Funk Inc. reassembled to begin recording for Prestige again, resulting in the release of the album, "Urban Renewal".

P.S. If you dig this side and can't get enough of Funk Inc., the fine people at Fantasy records have done a bang-up job re-issuing "Funk Inc.", "Chicken Lickin'", and, "Hangin' Out" on CD and LP.

=Friday, July 25, 2008

Get Hip!

Welcome back to Trunk of F.U.N.K. radio.

I need to start this post with a couple of important shout-outs. First, good luck to my brother who has his fitness test for the Navy J.A.G. program today. You've been training hard for months, so I'm sure you'll do just fine. Second, congratulations to my good friends Brian and Cary who are getting married tomorrow. It's definitely an honor to be your best man.

For everyone else, I hope this last week has treated you well. Things have been really hectic for me lately. Between work and personal matters I was beginning to thing that this mix might not happen until next week. Fortunately there was no need to upset the regular listeners as I was able to crank this out last night.

This week's mix is a bit more "eclectic" than the previous two installments. It starts out with a humorous bit from Joe Tex that sounds like it was recorded in the heat of a righteous party. We then move to a song from Ricky Allen about the unfortunate event of thinking you're losing the one you love. From there it moves to a trio of sides from groups whose inner-workings and member-swapping have sparked controversy for years (including the claim that the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band was originally the Soul Runners, and that members of the Soul Runners may have also recorded as the Packers. Larry over at Funky16Corners is under the impression that there is no real connection between Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band and Soul Runners, and he usually knows whats up, so thats the story that we'll stick with here too). After that we slow things down a bit with one of my favorite Meters tracks, which is followed up with Reuben Wilson's smoking cover of War's "Cisco Kid". From there we move to a recently released funk track (I'm noticing a trend of including one contemporary funk track in each mix that I should probably stick with from here on out) from Bama and the Family that sends out the kind of laid back vibe that is perfect for closing out a hectic week. The mix then picks it back up a bit with a tune from Ripple that sums up the feeling of everything that has and will ever appear on this blog. Soul Searchers and Beginning of the End then provide tracks containing three (3) huge breaks over the span of just a few minutes. Finally, the mix wraps up with one of those great party tracks from the Bar-Kays that I don't think I will ever tire of.

Trunk of F.U.N.K. vol. 003 - Get Hip!


Title - Artist - Label

1. Skinny Legs and All – Joe Tex - Dial
2. It’s a Mess I Tell You – Ricky Allen – Bright Star
3. Go ‘Head On – The Packers – Pure Soul Music
4. Brown Sugar – The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band – Warner Bros.
5. Charley – The Soul Runners – MoSoul
6. Sophisticated Cissy – The Meters - Josie
7. Reuben Wilson – Cisco Kid – Groove Merchant
8. Don’t Think… Do – Bama and the Family – Lenar
9. I Don’t Know What It Is, But It Sure Is Funky – Ripple – GRC
10. Funk to the Folks – Soul Searchers – Sussex
11. Funky Nassau pt. 1 – Beginning of the End – Alston
12. Soul Finger – Bar-Kays – Volt

=Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ramsey Lewis - Back to the Roots - Cadet

This week’s single comes from a performer and label out of the city that I was born and raised in, Chicago.

Back to the Roots - Ramsey Lewis - Cadet

Ramsey Lewis has had a long and successful career as a jazz pianist, starting his jazz-playing career at age 15 with Wallace Burton’s band, the Cleffs. Aside from serving as his introduction to jazz, this was also the point at which Lewis met drummer Isaac “Redd” Holt, and bassist Eldee Young who would later form the Ramsey Lewis Trio after the disbanding of the Cleffs due to a number of members leaving to fight in the Korean War. After recording their 1965 hit, The In Crowd (single reached #5, album #2 on the pop charts), Holt and Young left the Ramsey Lewis Trio to begin Young-Holt Unlimited, and were replaced by Cleveland Eaton and Maurice White. In 1970, Morris Jennings replaced Maurice White, to establish the final line-up of the Ramsey Lewis Trio (they would actually drop “Trio” at this time, deciding to work under Ramsey Lewis’ name). It is this final line-up of Lewis, Eaton, and Jennings that is credited with writing today’s selection, which was taken from an LP of the same name release in 1971. Ramsey Lewis’ pop success had begun to dwindle by this point in his career as this album only reached #163 on the pop charts, however, this does not mean that he wasn’t still putting out solid material (as exemplified by today’s selection) during this point in his career. I can safely say that although this is the first time that the work of Ramsey Lewis has appeared on this site, it will in no way be the last.

Enjoy this single over the rest of the week and tune in for a new mix on Friday.

=Monday, July 14, 2008

Lunar Funk - Mr. Penguin pt. 1 & 2

Up this week is another party-starting two-sided 45 filled with loads of fuzzed-out guitar and a smoking organ…

Mr. Penguin pt. 1&2 - Lunar Funk - Bell

I’m having a hard time finding ANY information on this group using the usual search strategies (to some extent this probably has to do with the ridiculous number of hits for the single “Lunar Funk” by The Fabulous Counts). What I can tell you is that this single spent 8 weeks at #63 in 1972, and that Linda Williams, Janice David, and William Flemister share writing credits for the single. Equally as difficult as finding information on Lunar Funk is finding information on any of the writers. Presumably, Flemister was a member of Lunar Funk as he is also credited with writing the single “Slip the Drummer One” (a side equally as funky as “Mr. Penguin”, but currently being saved for a future Trunk of F.U.N.K. mix). The only other information I’ve been able to dig up on “Mr. Penguin” is in regard to the executive producer Marlin McNichols. McNichols was a monster record producer having a major hand in hits dating back to the 60’s (more info on his career here).

Stay tuned for a new single and mix up next week.

=Friday, July 11, 2008

Hittin' to the Streets

Welcome to the next episode of the Trunk of F.U.N.K. radio show. I should start by mentioning that my original intentions of putting up a mix a week were proving to be much more demanding than I had imagined. So, in the interest of preserving sanity, from here on out expect a new mix every other Friday, with a single covered at the beginning of each week.

On to the mix... I had originally put the first half of this set together for a party I played in Chicago back in March. It's one of those mixes that I've always enjoyed, so I figured it would be a great addition to this show. To keep things fresh for anyone who may have caught this set the first time around, the second half includes a few more recent acquisitions. Similar to volume 001, all of the tracks here are from 45s, however, unlike volume oo1, I've stuck to 45s found "in the field" this time around. I was planning on 'Hittin' to the Streets' to do some digging this weekend, but with the forecast of sweltering heat and rain, that probably won't happen. For all you listeners that are 'Hittin' to the Streets' this weekend, I suggest rolling down the windows, turning up the volume, and keeping cool with this batch of grooves.

Tracklist -- Title - Artist - Label

1. Detroit – Paul Humphrey and his Cool Aid Chemists – Lizard
2. Hicky Burr pt. 1 – Bill Cosby – Uni
3. Hum and Dance Along – Temptations – Gordy
4. Gettin’ it on ’75 – Dennis Coffey – Sussex
5. Chaser – Kutiman – Afro-Kats
6. Funk Pump – Counts – Aware
7. Funky Rubber Band – Popcorn Wylie – Soul
8. Afro-Strut – Nite-Liters – RCA Victor
9. The Wootie-T-Woo – The People’s Choice - Phil L.A. of Soul
10. Get Down – War - UA

Trunk of F.U.N.K. vol. 002 - Hittin' to the Streets

=Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Buddy Miles Express - Train

Here’s a tripped out funk track that I’ve really been digging lately…

Train - Buddy Miles Express - Mercury

Buddy Miles has lent his funky drumming skills to a staggering number of musicians. Examples include Wilson Pickett, Mike Bloomfield, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, and George Clinton/Funkadelic/Parliament. During the 60’s, Miles befriended Jimi Hendrix, who is credited with producing the record “Expressway to Your Skull” from which today’s selection was taken (if you get a chance, check out the liner notes written by Jimi). Later, Miles played drums on Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland”, before filling a permanent spot behind the kit in the Band of Gypsys. After the untimely end of the Band of Gypsys, Miles continued recording material with the Buddy Miles Express (later dropping the Express). It was during this time that he re-recorded a Band of Gypsys song, “Them Changes”, which would become the song forever associated with the name Buddy Miles. A lesser-known fact of Buddy’s later career was his role as the voice of the California Raisins during the 1986 ad campaign. He continued recording and performing live until heart problems forced him to stop, ultimately resulting in his death earlier this year.

Be sure to tune in to volume 2 of Trunk of F.U.N.K. radio this Friday.