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13 Nov 2016

The Politicians Featuring McKinley Jackson “The Politicians Featuring McKinley Jackson”1972 US Funk Psych Soul








The Politicians Featuring McKinley Jackson “The Politicians Featuring McKinley Jackson”   1972 US Funk Psych Soul
full
Jackson was a long standing member of Motown’s sessions band, playing trombone on dozens (if not hundreds) of Holland-Dozier-Holland recording sessions for the label. That would certainly explain how Jackson and company ended up releasing one of the first album’s on the trio’s post-Motown Hot Wax imprint. Musically the album featured a collection of ten largely-original instrumentals ranging from hardcore funk (‘Psycha-Soula-Funkadelic‘ and ‘Funky Toes‘), to a radio friendly ballad (‘A Song for You’). Technically these guys were pretty amazing, easily measuring up top Motown’s Funk brothers, Hi Records’ Hodges Brothers, or The Memphis Horns. Unfortunately, the absence of a singer clearly limited their audience. Still, it’s one of the better releases on the Invictus/Hot Wax roster.........

Trombonist McKinley Jackson joined Motown-defectors Lamont Dozier and the Holland brothers in 1970. He became the frontman leading the houseband that would pump out backing tracks for the newly formed Invictus/Hot Wax label. The Politicians, as the band was titled, recorded all over the place behind a host of artists, and released just one album sporting their own name. But what a record they made.

In sync with Norman Whitfield’s iconoclasm over at Motown, “Psycha-Soula-Funkadelic” is a chaotic mixture of fuzzed and distorted rock sounds and jungle funk. “The World We Live In” keeps up the trippy vibe: a fatback groover spotlighting Zachary Slater’s in-the-pocket drumming. Neat effects include a whiney synth-like siren and what sound like the lashes of an electrifide whip.

“Church” is somewhat more sane, still riding a chugging, deep groove, but the xylophone adds a bit of sweetness not heard elsewhere here.

The best track (and the sole hit for the group), “Free Your Mind” stands out for its indescribably catchy guitar leit motif, a wah-wah’d lick that may well be the funkiest ever waxed. Labelmates 8th Day used the backing track for their B-side “Freedom Is Instrumental”.

Likewise, another Invictus group, 100 Proof Aged In Soul, took the music of the intensely funky instrumental “Everything Good Is Bad” to the #15 R&B spot by adding a set of mildly political lyrics......

On first listen, from memory, i wasn’t super impressed with this record. I think i was hoping for some deep, dark Afro Funk/Jazz (maybe because of the super cool sleeve) and as it was a much ‘softer approach, i filed it away without retaining any lasting impressions. On future listens though, i came to recognize the greatness in this record and just how well done these recordings were executed by one of Americas undiscovered stars.
Trombonist McKinley Jackson began his career as a studio session player for the Motown defectors Lamont Dozier and the Holland Brothers. He would then go on to lead the ‘house’ band giving support for a slew of artists who recorded under the Invictus/Hot Wax label.
In 1970, under the name The Politicians, Jackson would lead the recording sessions that would become their sole eponymous as a band. The result is this well crafted Soul/Funk mostly instrumental album that demonstrates the bands absolute dedication to tight grooves and well written tunes. There are some super catchy riffs and hooks in these tunes..’Free Your Mind’ comes to mind as well as their awesome version of ‘Everything Good is Bad’, originally made famous by the 100 Proof Soul band which McKinley assisted them with only a year or two earlier.
‘Speak on It’ and ‘Funky Toes’ are also stand outs with their dexterous Funky rhythms and super slick grooves which immediately grab the attention of the listener on the second side.
Unfortunately for the Politicians, this album remained relatively unknown and didn’t really have any commercial success (possibly due to the lack of a vocalist /lyrics) but nonetheless, modern reissues have placed it under the noses of funk collectors world wide and there has been a resurgence of interest in this sublime and masterful Soul/Funk album. Highly recommended....by...siren05.......

Originally known as The Peps which morphed into The Politicians, the original line-up featured McKinley Jackson, along with Chuck Boyd, Stanley Cleveland, Melvin Griffin, Charlie Hearndon, Zac Slater, and singer Danny Wood. The group attracted local attention as the house band at Detroit's Legendary 20 Grant Motel. By 1972 the group was known as McKinley Jackson and the Politicians, with a line-up showcasing bassist Roderick Chandler, keyboardists Melvin Griffin and Clay Clarence Robinson, and drummer Zac Slater.

I'm guessing their relationship with Hot Wax records was a result of Jackson's long standing relationship with Motown's Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland. After all, Jackson was a longstanding member of Motown's sessions band, playing trombone on dozens (if not hundreds) of Holland-Dozier-Holland recording sessions for the label. That would certainly explain how Jackson and company ended up releasing one of the first album's on the trio's post-Motown Hot Wax imprint. Musically the album featured a collection of ten largely-original instrumentals ranging from hardcore funk ('Psycha-Soula-Funkadelic' and 'Funky Toes'), to a radio friendly ballad ('A Song for You'). Technically these guys were pretty amazing, easily measuring up top Motown's Funk brothers, Hi Records' Hodges Brothers, or The Memphis Horns. Unfortunately, the absence of a singer clearly limited their audience. Still, it's one of the better releases on the Invictus/Hot Wax roster.

"The Politicians Featuring McKinley Jackson" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Psycha-Soula-Funkadelic (instrumental) (Ruth Copeland - McKinley Jackson - Melvin Griffin) - 3:43
I'm guessing this was inspired in no little part by George Clinton's Funkadelic work ('Free Your Mind ... and Your Ass Will Follow') with a bit of Norman Whitfield psych-soul thrown in for good measure. Stunning way to open an album. rating: **** stars
2.) The World We Live In (instrumental) (Ronald Dunbar - Eddie Wayne - McKinley Jackson) - 4:22
The horns were more prominent on 'The World We Live In' (as was the whip sound effect), but the result was equally funky !!! rating: **** stars
3.) Church (instrumental) ( McKinley Jackson) - 3:15
To my ears, Jackson's 'church' had the kind of commercial melody and edge that characterized the best Invictus/Hot Wax tunes. They should have slapped a  gritty vocal on it and released it as a single. probably my favorite track on the album. rating: **** stars
4.) Free Your Mind (instrumental) (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland) - 2:50
Fuzz bass !!! Another killer slice of funk and easy to see why Hot Wax trapped it as a single. Should've provided the band with at least a modest hit. The basic track was re-recorded by label mates 8th Day who released it as a 'B' side entitled 'Freedom Is (instrumental)'. rating: **** stars
5.) Everything Good Is Bad (instrumental) (Angelo Bond - General Johnson - Gregg Perry) - 4:14
So I'm familiar with this one from the first 100% Aged In Soul album and this could very well be the same track sans the lead vocal (I'm too lazy to compare them side by side). Quite unlike the rest of the album, this one has a cool jazzy edge to it. rating: *** stars

(side 2)
1.) A Song For You (instrumental) (McKinley Jackson - Melvin Griffin) - 4:31
Co-written by Jackson and Griffin, 'A Song For You' was an unexpectedly pretty ballad with kind of a Van McCoy/Barry White vibe to it. Shame former vocalist Wood, or someone wasn't on board to handle a lead vocal. rating: *** stars
2.) Speak On It (instrumental) (McKinley Jackson - Melvin Griffin) - 5:48
One of the album's more interesting and challenging tunes, 'Speak It Out' managed to somehow combine a catchy and highly commercial melody with a sophisticated keyboard, pedal steel (?), horn, and strings arrangement. Anyone who doesn't recognize how good Jackson was should check this tune out. rating: **** star
3.) Funky Toes (instrumental) (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - McKinley Jackson) - 4:04
Hardcore '70s funk simply doesn't get much better than this instrumental - gurgling clavinet, wah wah guitarr, heavy percussion, killer bass line ... Wonder how many times its been sampled over the years ... rating: **** stars
4.) Politicians Theme (instrumental) (McKinley Jackson - Charlie Hearndon) - 2:50
I'm usually not a big horn fan, but 'Politicians Theme' is one of the rare exception - the horns actually improve this tasty groove. To my ears it always sounded like it had a Memphis edge. rating: **** stars
5.) Close Your Big Mouth (instrumental) (McKinley Jackson - Zac Slater) - 3:06
One of the album's isolated disappointments, 'Close Your Big Mouth' sounded like a throwaway studio jam that was packaged with a bunch of after-the-fact studio noises. Shame, since the underlying groove was actually pretty good with some of the album's best guitar work. Kudos to Griffin for his electric keyboard solo. rating: *** stars.....by.....RDTEN1 .......

Tracks
A1 Psycha-Soula-Funkadelic 3:48
A2 The World We Live in 4:21
A3 Church 3:15
A4 Free Your Mind 2:50
A5 Everything Good Is Bad 4:14
B1 A Song for You 4:34
B2 Speak on It 5:40
B3 Funky Toes 4:04
B4 Politicians Theme 2:59
B5 Close Your Big Mouth 3:07

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..