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14 Sep 2016

Amnesty “Free Your Mind” 1973-2007 US Heavy Funk





Amnesty  “Free Your Mind” 1973-2007 US Heavy Funk
full
A superb album finally gets a release. 

There are a lot of funk 45’s and albums that have been dug up over the years. Let me tell you, being a DJ and having heard hundreds of these funk nuggets I can say the ONLY Amnesty album is definitely the cream of the crate digging crop. The funk is heavy and the harmonies are some of the strongest you’ll hear amongst funk records of any era…… 

‘ exquisite, often never-before-released funk championed by Now Again Records are no stranger to Amnesty. Based in Indianapolis in the early 1970s, the group released only two obscure 45s in their recording career. Birthed from the same scene as the Ebony Rhythm Band (Soul Heart Transplant – NA 5011), Amnesty had a poltical edge similar to LA Carnival (Would Like To Pose A Question – NA 5009) and the hardest brass section since The Kashmere Stage Band (Texas Thunder Soul – NA 5023). 

This previously unreleased anthology comes from the same sessions as “Free Your Mind”. In 1973 Amnesty recorded five hard, vocal funk numbers alongside some ballads and a handful of demos based around nothing more than guitar accompaniment. Only two songs were ever released; Amnesty’s biting, difficult-to-categorize prog/rock/soul/funk stretched far beyond Indianpolis’s bounds and the band didn’t have a label to take them to the next level. 

Obviously influenced by, but by no means simply imitators of, the sound of early Parliament and Funkadelic, Amnesty also responds to the grooves of Earth Wind and Fire and Sly and The Family Stone in their own way. Finally made available thirty three years after they were recorded, these songs are funk arranged with dangerous complexity and performed with precision – arguably the most unique funk to originate from Naptown, and some of the best music of its kind.“ 

Long relegated to various ‘rarity’ compilations, Indianapolis eight-piece Amnesty (meaning ‘second chance’) have finally been recognised in a collection of recordings kept by long-time band archivist, bassist, and keeper-of-the-faith James ‘Red’ Massie. The result is a melting pot of early ‘70s psychedelic funk, jazz, rock and vocal harmonies. A strange combination, it attempts to catalogue the group’s evolution as they seek satisfaction in their second stab at fame. 

Although they originally released only one 7-inch for the Lamp label (home of other psychedelic funk acts such as The Ebony Rhythm Band and The Diplomatics), Amnesty found a home at Moe Whittemore’s 700 West Studio in 1973. Here, along with that fateful 7-inch, they taped five hard funk numbers and a string of ballads and demos. From these sessions, they released “Three Cheers for Baby” and “Lord Help Me” as the B-side. The former song showcases their vocal abilities and their love for Temptations-inspired harmonies. Similar to other tracks on this compilation such as “We’ve Come A Long Way“, the backing of these vocal tracks is incredibly gritty and real. Amnesty’s sophisticated sweep and flow of horns, wah-wah, and percussion produces an amazing intensity; one which transcends the boundaries of pop. 

On the released B-side, “Lord Help Me” dishes out a hot serving of supergroovalistic-parliament-thang. While the brass arrangement doesn’t sit with the likes of Fred Wesley, the call/response idiom familiar to gospel and the scathing proto-political/economic musings (‘the price of meat/almost higher than dope in the streets’) are a fine slice of funk. This particular track sheds real light on the group’s potential. 

Elsewhere, the opener “Can I Help You?” and “Mister President” seem to combine the rhythms of Cymande with the psychedelic contemplations of Indianapolis brothers-in-arms Ebony Rhythm Band – a combination which seems to flavour many of the featured recordings. Love Fades is also steeped in funkadelic flavours that wouldn’t be out of place on Cosmic Slop. 

Not only does Free Your Mind showcase the talent of a greatly overlooked funk act, it is also a damn fine record for your average funk listener. (Tom Noonan) …. 

Tracks 
1 Can I Help You? 7:41 
2 Love Fades 3:32 
3 Mister President 4:19 
4 Free Your Mind 5:51 
5 We Have Love 4:32 
6 Lord Help Me 3:38 
7 Three Cheers for My Baby 4:10 
8 Trouble Will Remain 2:34 
9 We’ve Come a Long Way 1:54 
10 Liberty 2:40 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..