Friday, July 18, 2008

Bend Me, Shape Me #7: The Sound of Funk 4

Since very few of the cassettes I purchased early on in life are still in my possession, my official career as a music collector began in 1985 when I bought my first three Compact Discs- Yes 90125, U2 The Unforgettable Fire and Van Halen 1984. Since then, an inordinate (to some) amount of my spending money has been utilized to grow that record collection... but there's still never enough.

"Doin' the moonwalk. Talkin' that moon talk"

I would probably buy a lot fewer Compilations if money was no object, but since it is I've found the Compilation (much like the Greatest Hits record, non-score Soundtrack Albums, Insert CDs in music mags like Mixmag and XLR8R, etc) to be a great friend of the music budget. For the price of one record you can often be introduced to a dozen or more new-to-you acts, and quite often a track that strikes a chord can lead you down a path of exploration you may not otherwise have discovered.

By far the best music compilation I've come across is The Sound of Funk 4 on the UK's Rare Groove and Northern Soul reissue label Goldmine Soul Supply. I can't easily find the release date, but I first discovered it in a record store in Brussels.

Royal Crescent Mob at the Cat's Cradle was always a special night

Like many people, I got deepest into exploring new-to-me music during my college years. The (for lack of a better term) white-boy funk of Royal Crescent Mob and Chapel Hill bands Johnny Quest and Sex Police led quickly to golden era funk like The Meters and James Brown.

And thus, the stage was set for that moment in June of 1994 in Brussels, Belgium when I broke off from the pack of dudes I was traveling with to spend some quality time in the local record shop. The selection process details are hazy, but for some reason I decided to spend some Belgian francs taking a chance on The Sound of Funk 4.

To me this is sweet-spot funk, the kind of funk that separates people who shake their ass from people who don't.

Of all the records on this list, The Sound of Funk 4 is the one I evangelize the most. I cannot imagine the house party, backyard barbecue or headphone session that wouldn't be better off with a few of these choice cuts comin' out the speakers.

Where else ya gonna find Bootsy Collins's first solo single "Fun in Your Thang (Part 1)"?

How could music from names like Little Oscar, Burnett Bynam and the Soul Invaders, and Little Joe Cook and the Thrillers be anything other than sublime?

THIS is where you can hear the lip-curling gauntlet-thrower "Funky Funk" by Big Al and the Star Treks!

But we got a thing called the funky funk.
You do what you wanna do!

THIS is where you can hear the all-time greatest theme music for strutting, "Bumping" by Tyrone Chestnut!

When Wee Willie and the Winners implores you to "Get some, before it's all gone", you have no choice but to nod your head in agreement.

One of my three favorite all-time funk songs is "The Funky Buzzard" by Little Oscar.

Funky Buzzard.
Funky Buzzard.
Do your thing.
Funky Buzzard.
Funky Buzzard.
Flap Your Wings.

Wiggle Your Tail Feather

This is the song you want playing in your car when you're on your way somewhere better.

In a final "this is probably only interesting to the blogger himself" note, it just dawned on me that The Sound of Funk 4 has an awesome track from Grady Tate ("Be Black Baby"), the same Grady Tate I singled out for his "opposite end of the musical spectrum" work drumming on the soundtrack to TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME in the last installment of Bend Me.


When you do it once,
You wanna do it some more

Mmm hmmm.

**If you're new to the site, the goal of the Bend Me, Shape Me series can be found here.**


Anonymous said...

you gotta check out an episode of the PBS series "independent lense" on Funkadelic/Parliament. those guys took drugs? who knew? And Clinton is from NC.

It's worth it for the costumes alone. those guys could were, um, daring with their fasion choices.


Mr. Word Player said...

both of my home states are funky... George Clinton was born in Kannapolis, NC and I've always been proud that Bootsy and I were born in Cincinnati (and the Isley Brothers too!).