Highly regarded in soul-jazz circles, organ combo Funk, Inc. has specialized in a very accessible, groove-oriented blend of jazz, funk and R&B. The group was founded in Indianapolis in 1969 by organist Bobby Watley, who recruited tenor saxman Eugene Barr, guitarist Steve Weakley, drummer Jimmy Munford and conga player Cecil Hunt. In the early 1970s, the original lineup came to the attention of Bob Porter, a well respected producer who signed Funk, Inc. to Prestige and paved the way for the band to record five albums for that label. After stressing improvisation on its first three albums Funk, Inc., Chicken Lickin’ and Hangin’ Out, Funk, Inc. started to lose its way in the mid-1970s and turned to heavier production, more arranging and background vocals. This slicker approach led to tension within the group, and Funk, Inc. broke up in 1976. Watley continued to play live gigs on his own in the Midwest, and it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that he would organize a new Funk, Inc. lineup. With Britain’s acid jazz scene having focused attention on Funk, Inc.’s work, Watley organized a new lineup that included Hunt and newcomers Teddy Patterson (alto & tenor sax), Doug Swanigan (guitar) and Phil Brines (drums). Sadly, original members Munford and Barr had died. With this lineup in place and Funk, Inc. recording for Prestige once again, the band entered the studio in 1995 and recorded its first album in 21 years, Urban Renewal. It was also during that 1990s that Fantasy reissued some of Funk’s 1970s efforts on CD……
1. Smokin At Tiffany’s (5:30) 2. Give Me Your Love (5:57) 3. We Can Be Friends (5:11) 4. Dirty Red (6:09) 5. I Can See Clearly Now (6:02) 6. I’ll Be Around (4:18)
LOrchestre Kanaga De Mopti is one of the best West-African modern orchestras which originated from a wide range of state funding. In 1977 the Malian government owned label Mali Kunkan, released a series of LPs including this HOLY GRAIL of Malian music. Now available again via an official reissue! ……..
Malian music has received a lot of attention the past years, and it’s appeal will continue to spread with discoveries like this being exposed outside the record collectors market. Kanaga De Mopti has the sound of a West African orchestra - unified in rhythm and melody. This one found a place in our hearts as soon we heard it! TIP TIP TIP!
Kindred Spirits kicks off its Mali-series with one of the most in demand Mali records, by L'Orchestre Kanaga De Mopti. They are one of the region’s modern orchestra groups, who were were able to flourish in the golden age of West African state music funding. In 1977 the Malian government owned label ‘Mali Kunkan’, released a series of LP’s, including this must-have gem………
Must-have reissue of this West African orchestra’s most in-demand album, originally recorded in 1977. Usually the preserve of knowledgable record collectors, 'Kanaga De Mopti’ can be viewed as some kind Malian answer to Pink Floyd - only a HELL of a lot funkier. Under the guidance of bandleader Sory Bamba, the group were one of eight regional orchestras set up during the golden era of state music funding, competing with the other seven in the Biennale Culturelle system and ranking second in the four between 1970 and 1976, defeated each time by the mighty Super Biton de Ségou. One of the defining features to the group’s sound is the dual rhythmelodies of Mamdou Soumaoro’s keyboards and a Grand Balafon, the larger version of a tuned percussion instrument akin to a marimba, whose combined Afro-futuristic timbres warrant the Pink Floyd comparison. Around 1977, together with sax, guitars, fula singers, tumba and drums the group settled on an augmented style of traditional Dogon music, the sound of an old, almost secret and and fierce culture, and documented their new sound at Radio Mali. 'Kanaga De Mopti’ is the result, a genuinely powerful, mesmerising set of six tracks ranging from celebratory dance music to reflective, symphonic compositions and including one outstanding track 'Kanaga’, a deliriously funky, echoic and engrossing masterpiece. Now fully remastered and presented in original full colour sleeve with sleevenotes, us lovers are treated to their stunning performance for the first time. TIP! ……… Boomkat Product Review: ….
Mopti, the Venice of MALI … As VENICE, young people are bored stiff. They are there to be bumming on the banks of river NIGER or either burn out dry on its tributary the sweet name of Bani (link is external). It was then that to brighten up the city formed REGIONAL ORCHESTRA MOPTI. This record dates from 1970 and was registered in the competition framework as was done at the time: Biennials. That year, the “first artistic and cultural biennale of youth”, they finished 2nd. They win in 1978. So this disc is a concert. In the “sacred high class concert.” I’m not going to play the etymology or history of my two. Huh. I prefer to speak German. I know you know look.
The great success of this, it is the mixture, or merging as we said at the time. The cover is in this sense a very good cover. A mix of traditional and electrical assistance. Electric guitar rolling ass, trumpet makes a nod to the drums and other TAMA, who themselves are burning pace in speed and especially trans there any behind the melodic songs … in the heart .. . in an atmosphere that I would have loved to live …
Orchestre_kanaga_de_Mopti Mali KunkanDaté 1977 “ORCHESTRA OF KANAGA MOPTI” wants to be a sound recording studio, this album is more accessible, through western with all that entails. Some will say to my right that it’s built better orchestrated, recorded better, better EVERYTHING. Yes ok agree, but I would say to my left that loses freedom, the pieces are now songs, less free stuff, more cramped, best dressed, with makeup, bagouzes and with much less structures wobbly. In short, this is bizarre. And that is why I prefer the first draft of 1970. Less Zouc. Over the earth. Less head. It is not moreover nothing emerges to Dogon masks on the cover .. ……
Repressed. L'Orchestre Kanaga De Mopti is one of the best West African modern orchestras which originated from a wide range of state funding. In 1977, the Malian government-owned label Mali Kunkan released a series of LPs including this Holy Grail of Malian music, now fully remastered and available again via an official reissue! In the 1960s, during the First Republic of Mali, modern orchestras were encouraged and promoted by Modibo Keita’s government. Starting in 1960, Bani Jazz became the city and region’s main orchestra before the name changed to the Orchestre Régional De Mopti in the wake of Mali’s Second Republic in 1969. At the end of 1970, the band published its first album under the name of Orchestre Régional De Mopti. This record clearly helped to define Mopti’s vibrant cultural heritage under the aegis of bandleader Sory Bamba. Trumpet player, flutist, traveller and songwriter, Bamba already had a strong musical background when he took over the orchestra in 1969. Around 1976, the Mopti orchestra became Kanaga De Mopti, simply known as “Kanaga” by the listeners of Radio Mali, named after the large Dogon ceremonial mask. Under this new and slightly “more commercial” moniker, the band also performed at private functions and for various regional patrons. In July of 1976, after months of intense musical and cultural research, the orchestra visited the Radio Mali recording studio in order to document its new musical evolution. Six of these songs were featured on the only album by Kanaga De Mopti released in 1977 courtesy of Mali Kunkan, an ad hoc label formed around the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Art and Culture. On side one, the infectious “Kulukutu” and its mesmerizing vocal introduction focuses on the celebration and the joys of marriage between young men and young girls. “N'Do N'Do” digs deeper into the Dogon culture as it displays the masked dances and processions performed by kids on Ramadan nights. The call and response add up to the strong and fierce excitement one can sense within the recording studio. Closing side one, with its introductory bell gimmick, “Sare Mabo” is dedicated to the cloth weavers. Bamba plays the traditional fula flute at the end of that track, giving it a rural edge while the sturdy horns display their powers. Side two opens up with one of Bamba’s most amazing compositions, “Kanaga,” an homage to the Dogon mask and to the dancers who wear it during ritual ceremonies. The brass section is exceptional all throughout the record with tremendous riffs on that track. Electric guitar and organs swirl effortlessly around the melodies on songs like “Gambari” (trans. “green grass”), a griot-like song praising a powerful groom. “Sory Bamba” is another praise song which extols the virtues of its famous band leader. Stuck in the past but looking towards the future with its incredible mix of traditional and modern instruments, Kanaga instantly reaches the higher level of African music classicism. Finally, this timeless classic is available again including fully-restored artwork and audio. Also includes in-depth liner notes about Mali and L'Orchestre Kanaga De Mopti. ….by Forced Explosure…..
The first regional orchestra of the Mopti region of Mali was the Bani Jazz, named after the river that joins the Niger near Mopti. Founded after the coup d'état of 1968, Ali 'Farka’ Touré was the first chef d'orchestre. He was also the first to exploit the enormous variety of traditional music from the Mopti region in a modern orchestra, with tracks like “Manden Po”.
According to Ali (in an interview in 1989) things turned sour after two years, due to his relationship with Sory Bamba. When he discovered he lacked the support of the regional authorities, Ali left the orchestra. And the orchestra was taken over by Sory Bamba and renamed Orchestre Kanaga de Mopti.
The lp Kanaga recorded in 1977 for the Mali Kunkan label is certainly one of their best. It is also, unfortunately, one of the few in which the orchestra is credited and which is not -like the albums released on the Songhoy and Sonafric label- presented as a solo project by self-acclaimed superstar Sory Bamba.
I am somewhat cautious in labelling it The Best, because I suspect there may be more by Kanaga which at least I haven’t (fully) discovered. After discovering some fragments of tracks on a cassette I bought in Bamako, I have been looking for more; but so far I have only found more of the same… I am sure you will understand my frustration about this when you hear the two and a half minute fragment I have added as a bonus.
I have several versions of this lp and can’t make up my mind which one to post. So here are two versions for you to download: the first is from a cassette I bought in 2000 and is at least almost complete (there is a bit missing in the track “Kanaga”) and of a consistent quality. …….
This is a great LP by Black Sugar from Peru, released in 1971, it’s a nice mix of funk, latin, jazz, soul and some funky guitars. Dig the groove! ………
Black Sugar, the brainchild of Victor “Coco” Salazar and Miguel “Chino” Figueroa, was formed in 1969 under the name Los Far Fen, mainly because the group had a Farfisa and a Fender amplifiers as their only electronic amplification equipment.
In 1970 the group was given the name of Black Sugar by Jaime Delgado Aparicio, a jazz piano player and arranger that at the time was the artistic director of Sono Radio, a Peruvian label.
Delgado Aparicio, recognizing the talent of the young musicians, gave the group an opportunity to record a long play in 1971. Original compositions like “Too Late”, “Viajecito” and “The Looser” made this LP an immediate best seller. Black Sugar “Black Sugar” was sold in all South America and there was a release of the LP in USA by a Miami based label.
The success of Black Sugar was not due to luck or marketing.Their members were some of the finest , if not the best, young musician from Peru. The arranger, “Coco” Salazar was also a fantastic guitar player; Miguel “Chino” Figueroa was the composer of almost all the original songs by Black Sugar, besides playing keyboards, he was also an inspired organ player; Jose Cruz was one of the most promising young jazz drummers; it is hard not to mention the rest of the musicians, players like Roberto Valdez, Luis Calixto, Antonio Ginocchio, etc… deserve an extensive description of their abilities. …..
Black Sugar is a funky Latin-rock band from Peru, mercifully reissued for a latter-day audience by Lazarus Audio Products. “Viajecito” is the essential track – the waka-waka guitar intro is the main attraction, although the basic track is funky, Latin, and mostly instrumental. “The Looser” and “Funky Man” also are hip, but lyrics on the corny side keep them from heavy play. The lead-in tracks on each side, “Too Late” and “Understanding,” are solid, and the rest are decent ballads. Although the singing is not the greatest, the acoustic guitar and conga interplay on the lighter tracks sound like something from Sabu Martinez’ Groovin’ with Sabu album. “Pussy Cat” is an ambitious jazz instrumental; with its Latin percussion, funky bass, and strings (not to mention the title), it could have been a cut from one of the better “blaxploitation” soundtracks. Black Sugar may not change many lives, but it does occupy a vital corner in the rare world of Latin funk…by allmusic…
Tracklist A1 Too Late 3:00 A2 Viajecito 5:42 A3 The Looser 4:10 A4 This Time 4:21 A5 Funky Man 2:03 B1 Understanding 5:06 B2 When You'r Walking 4:53 B3 When I Needed Someone 2:42 B4 Pussy Cat 4:54
Fantastic very rare and beatiful dooble LP of Piero Umiliani with top italien jazz - rock musicians, very interesant and innovative sound, jazz- rock-rhytm and blues-beat-undergroud -country -pop musiciens : Marcello Boschi - flute , Mario Midana,Dino Piana,Biadio Marullo -trombones, Antonello Vannucchi - organ hammond, Silvano Chimenti, Sergio Coppotelli - guitars, Maurizio Majorana - electric bass, Claudio Budassi - sound engineer, Oscar Waldambrini, Al Corvin,Marino di Fulvio - trumpets,Carlo Zoffoli- vibraharp,marimba, Sergio Carnini - organ lowrey , Giovanni Tomasso - bass, E.Restuccio , G.Munari,C.Ciro - percussions, F.Meloni - mastering Piero Umiliani - moog,piano fender,mexican marimba 21 tunes ……
What can I say? I’m obviously a huge fan of Piero Umiliani. This has to be the 3rd review I have done of his work, but honestly I could go all day! First off, it’s difficult to say which record of his is my favorite. But this one is definitely high on my list of top records period! To-Day’s Sound was recorded in his Luito studio and micro-pressed (300 or less) in the early 70’s. Some would consider this background music or a “library record” but I consider it more background music than anything. Note: The song “Open Space” was used for the 1973 movie Baba Yaga (check the trailer below). Each song is very expressive and demands the listeners full attention. Umiliani was definitely in his prime and the way the arrangements are written shows it bluntly, that I couldn’t even fit all of the material on one sound clip. HIGHLY recommended!! Enjoy ….
Originally released as a double album and conceived as a collection of episodes destined to various tv sonorizations, To-day’s sound has quickly become one of the most popular works by Piero Umiliani and it certainly is one of the best ones composed in his career. Umiliani, here on the job with Moog, Hammond and keyboards, is accompanied by a good group of excellent and talented jazz players, like Franco D'Andrea and Giovanni Tommaso (both in the Perigeo group), trumpet player Oscar Valdambrini, guitar player Silvano Chimenti from I Grès group, percussionist Ciro Cicco and many others. With the original intent to offer radically different styles and atmospheres, in order to promote the use of the tracks in movies and tv series - in fact, the the psycho-funk Open space was used for the opening credits of the movie Baba Yaga - To-day’s sound is the perfect example of Umiliani’s incredible and varied talent, capable of mastering diverse genres and sounds without losing his personal touch. As stated on the cover: Rock, rhythm and blues, beat, underground, country, pop, we can also add electronic music and funk, in order to complete a sound palette that only very few other composers had. It is hard to pick the best track in a record (a double album to be specific ) so rich of gems, from the title track to Caretera panamericana (with virtuoso Moog improvisations ), to Bus stop and Music on the road , to end with the wonderful soul of Green valley: it is better to enjoy Umiliani at his best!…..TO-DAY’S SOUND (1973)….
Bass – Giovanni Tommaso Cover – Sandro Lodolo Electric Bass – Maurizio Majorana Engineer [Sound] – Claudio Budassi Ensemble [Complesso] – The Soundwork-Shoppers Flute – Marcello Boschi Guitar – Sergio Coppotelli, Silvano Chimenti Liner Notes – Stefano Gilardino Mastered By – Francesco Melloni Music By, Arranged By – Piero Umiliani Organ [Hammond] – Antonello Vannucchi Organ [Lowrey] – Sergio Carnini Percussion – Cico Ciro*, Gegè Munari, Enzo Restuccia* Piano, Piano [Clavichord] – Franco D'Andrea Synthesizer [Moog], Electric Piano [Pianofender], Marimba [Mexican] – Piero Umiliani Translated By [English Translation By] – Elisabetta Umiliani Trombone – Biagio Marullo, Dino Piana, Mario Midana Trumpet – Al Corvin*, Marino Di Fulvio, Oscar Valdambrini Vibraphone [Vibraharp], Marimba – Carlo Zoffoli
Tracklist: Side A A1 Open Space A2 Green Valley A3 Caretera Panamericana A4 Goodmorning Sun A5 To-Day’s Sound A6 Free Dimension
Side B B1 Truck Driver B2 Blue Lagoon B3 Wanderer B4 Lady Magnolia B5 Pretty
Side C C1 Railroad C2 Country Town C3 Bus Stop C4 Cotton Road C5 Nocturne
Side D D1 Exploration D2 Tropical River D3 Coast To Coast D4 Safari Club D5 Music On The Road
Miguel De Deus “Black Soul Brothers” (Copacabana, 1977) Funky music, terrible singer. I mean, like, the backing band is really in a deep groove, and De Deus is really, really annoying – terrible tone, grating personality, and a total spazz. I bet it was a lot of fun seeing him live – it’s a very high-energy performance – but on wax, it’s too manic and unmelodic for me, even worse than Tim Maia or most of the other Brazilian soul singers. Apparently this was his only solo album of his career, although earlier he recorded with the rock bands Os Brazoes and Assim Assado. I have to say, that while I find his singing to be irritating, the record itself is definitely a historical gem… If you’re seriously checking out classic Brazilian funk, this is a record you’ll want to track down. ………
I know that he was a member of Os Brazões, who backed Gal Costa for a period of time. But that group doesn’t appear to have recorded much beyond their debut. A lot of time passes from 1969 to 1977 when this LP is released. I’m sure I’ve missed some credits from Deus during that period of time, but even still there’s a lot to be discovered and rediscoverd about Brazil music in the 1970s. Black Soul Brothers is a somewhat strange kind of record. Virtually every song on the album doesn’t really have any lyrical structure, it’s more a phrase or a chant. It sounds as if Deus invited all his friends into the studio, without any actual songs, and just cut loose and messed around. Aside from “Fabrica De Papeis” songs have at best 2 lines of lyrics, sometimes even less. “Black Soul Brothers” only real line is “Black Soul Brothers,” either spoken or sung by the female back-up dancers.
All the minimal songwriting aside, this IS a mighty funky record. I love “Black Soul Brothers” so much I was thinking of making it my ringtone. I mean that beginning where dude screams out “Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, Shaka Du Shaka Du Shaka Shaka Du Shaka Du Shaka…UUUh!” before some B-Boyrific drums kick in is just too cool. In addition to the title cut, “Mister Funk” and “Cinco Anos” have also been comped to death on Funky Brazil collections. Every track basically follows the same template, band plays funky, a gaggle of voices join in and things strut and slink to an eventual fade out. As much as I might like some actual songs here, it’s hard to complain when the result is so darn funky……..
Miguel de Deus was one of the most versatile musicians of the 70s, while less known to the general public. Miguel was born in Ilheus, Bahia. Already living in Rio de Janeiro in mid-1969 formed the band “Os Brazões” which exploited the African influences in music and manner of dress and dance. The band was a mixture of rock and psychedelia with elements of Brazilian and African music and even accompanied Gal Costa on one of his tours in the late 60. In 1974, Miguel de God created the band “Barbeque” very well “ inspired "in general goods group.
In 1977,Miguel de Deus created perhaps the LP darkest of black music Brazilian seventies, the album, "Black Soul Brothers”. Invited by Copacabana Records to register it, the disc is glorious exercise of the Brazilian black movement. Illustrated by a powerful hair black power on the cover, Miguel recorded at the time its true aspect, the one that was always present in all musical phases enjoyed. Encased in pure party atmosphere, Miguel God recorded Black Soul Brother exactly as who was part of the music for the party, and not the opposite.
It all sounds magically loose and averse to any tie or caricatural poses: it is not the main vocal the largest disc technical perfection, but the spontaneity with which loose and externalized catchphrases and proselytize on behalf of black and soul. So it is with “Cinco Anos”, and even a new version of “Pedaços, the same present in the disco band Assim Assado. Miguel was not afraid to turn roguish samba funk rock in ripping with vocal spontaneous and that climão. …
A1 Cinco Anos A2 Pedacos A3 Mister Funk A4 Flaca Louca B1 Black Soul Brothers B2 Lua Cheia B3 Pode Se Queimar B4 Fabrica De Papeis
The first Parliament album as such was a mixed-up mess of an affair – but would anyone expect anything less? The overall sound is much more Funkadelic than later Parliament, if with a somewhat more accessible feel. Things get going with an appropriately leering start, thanks to “I Call My Baby Pussycat,” which makes something like “What’s New, Pussycat?” seem like innocent, chaste conversation. After a stripped-down start, things explode into a full-on funk strut with heavy-duty guitar and slamming drums setting the way, while the singers sound like they’re tripping without losing the soul – sudden music dropouts, vocal cut-ins, volume level tweaks, and more add to the off-kilter feeling. Osmium’s sound progresses from there – it’s funk’s fire combined with a studio freedom that feels like a blueprint for the future. Bernie Worrell’s keyboard abilities are already clear, whether he’s trying for hotel lounge jams or full freakiness; similarly, Eddie Hazel is clearly finding his own epic stoned zone to peel out some amazing solos at the drop of a hat. As for the subject matter and end results – who else but this crew could have come up with the trash-talking, yodeling twang of “Little Ole Country Boy” in 1970 and still made it funky with all the steel guitar? Other fun times include the piano and vocal-into-full-band goofy romantic romp of “My Automobile” and “Funky Woman,” where over a heavy groove (and goofy Worrell break) the titular character lives with the consequence of her stank: “She hung them in the air/The air said this ain’t fair!” Amidst all the nuttiness, there are some perhaps surprising depths – consider “Oh Lord, Why Lord/Prayer,” which might almost be too pretty for its own good (Worrell’s harpsichord almost verges on the sickly sweet) but still has some lovely gospel choir singing and heartfelt lyrics…..by allmusic…..
Before they were taking flight onboard the Mothership, Parliament began its trip in a New Jersey barbershop. In the mid-’50s, George Clinton was a hair stylist at Newark’s Uptown Tonsorial Parlor. Located in a predominantly black neighborhood, the shop was the hangout for the young and old. The North Carolina-bred Clinton became well-known for his hair-styling abilities (no surprise there), but also for his musical talents. Along with a few friends and co-workers, Clinton would regularly belt out doo-wop tunes for the delight of the costumers. At first, it was just a fun hobby, but the boys soon found themselves harmonizing in the back room, long after the shop had closed. Clinton soon left the Uptown to start work at Silk Palace, another barbershop in the nearby town of Plainfield, where he recruited a few local singers for his burgeoning group. It was here where the boys focused their musical ambition, and taking the name of their favorite brand of cigarettes, the Parliaments were born.
Beginning in ’58, the group recorded a few singles under various record labels but all struggled to find success. 1965’s “Heart Trouble” single for Golden World Records met the same fate, though it was the first to feature the Parliaments’ classic lineup of Clinton, Grady Thomas, Ray Davis, Calvin Simon and Fuzzy Haskins; this formation would remain for years to come. After producing a bunch of local groups for different labels including Revilot Records, with whom the Parliaments were soon signed, Clinton got a job as a songwriter/producer for Jobete Music, the publishing company of Motown Records. On his weekends off from the barbershop, which he now owned, he would make the trek from Jersey to Detroit to produce recording sessions. On one such trip in ’67, Clinton recorded a song he had co-written, “(I Wanna) Testify,” though as the rest of The Parliaments were unable to attend, the track was filled out by various session musicians and vocal group the Andantes. Released as the Parliaments for Revilot that summer, “(I Wanna) Testify” became the group’s first hit song.Reaching as high as number three on the Billboard R&B chart, the song was the group’s ticket to freedom. All the members quit their jobs, including Clinton, who soon sold the Silk Palace. Though they were without a backing band, save for guitarist Billy Nelson, the Parliaments threw one together and went out touring the country. Over the next few months, various members would come and go, including drummer Tiki Fulwood, who would remain for a few years. Soon, Nelson switched to bass, replaced with his childhood friend (and future guitar god) Eddie Hazel. The Parliaments now had a steady, and fantastic, musical backbone.
This is where the story gets confusing. After recording six singles for Revilot Records, Clinton and the label had a disagreement over money, and even though the Parliaments were still under contract, the band refused to record for them. Around this time, Revilot filed for bankruptcy, presenting the group with a whole bunch of legal problems. Since the band could not bill itself as the Parliaments, Clinton and Co. decided to name the group’s backing band Funkadelic, which they would then sign to another record label, even though the music would still feature the same five singers. A holding company, dubbed Parliafunkadelicment Thang Inc., was formed, and split among the original members.
It was now 1968, and to quote Principal Seymour Skinner, “The times they are a-becoming quite different.” The culture was changing and the drug era was in full-swing, making the soul and doo-wop of the Parliaments seem old-fashioned. As Clinton explained, “We couldn’t keep our ties alike. Couldn’t keep the suits clean. Hair was always undone. You realize the reality of that was really silly, especially when the hippies had just hit the scene and it was hip to be—you know, funky looking.” The group, now based in Detroit, started experimenting heavily with LSD, among other drugs. And if that wasn’t enough mind-fuckery, they were regularly sharing bills with The Stooges and MC5. Over the next few years, Clinton and Funkadelic would transform into one of the most innovative, electrifying and downright monstrous bands to ever roam the Earth. With the addition of rhythm guitarist Tawl Ross and keyboardist Bernie Worrell, the band signed to the newly formed Westbound Records in 1970, releasing two albums that year. On these records, they combined the black-pride funk of James Brown, the feedback filled jams of Hendrix and the free-jazz intensity of Sun Ra.
But what became of the Parliaments? In late 1970, the group won back the rights to use the name, but ready for a change, they dropped the “s” to become Parliament. Because of the group’s clever business tactics, Funkadelic had a record deal, but Parliament was a free agent. Producer Jeffrey Bowen, an old friend/co-worker of Clinton’s from his Motown days, soon got in contact, persuading the band to join the Invictus Records, created by Holland/Dozier/Holland, the team that wrote and produced 25 number-one hits for Motown. After signing, the group became friendly with English folk singer (and Jeff Bowen’s wife) Ruth Copeland. She began to collaborate with the group and decided to produce the band’s next album, with the help of her husband. Osmium presents a different side of Parliament, with a sound unique to any of the P-Funk discography. Here, they tone down Hazel’s giant acid-drenched riffs with Funkadelic (at least somewhat), playing up the vocal stylings of the five singers, by blending in more of a gospel-influenced sound. Among the numerous spiritual themed tracks, “Livin’ The Life” features lyrics that could have come from a church hymn, but the song keeps up a tight groove for Hazel’s guitar solos. Clinton’s North Carolina upbringing mostly likely inspired a few of the band’s lesser-known, but still essential, tracks. “Moonshine Heather” tells the tale of a war widow who is forced to sell moonshine to make ends meet for her 14 children. Why it isn’t more widely considered one of the band’s best moments is beyond me. There’s probably no better way to describe the track’s inherent coolness than this: If a ’71 Oldsmobile 98 could pick a theme song, it would probably be this. Keeping with the car theme, “My Automobile” begins with a peculiar audio documentary in which the band actually writes the song before our very ears. Clinton shows the group his lyrics, which detail his younger self’s attempts to get lucky in his car, and with the help of Worrell’s quick improvisation skills, the group begins harmonizing like they did back in their barbershop days. The second part of the song is the actual tune, featuring a self-described “hillbilly sound” reminiscent of the Southern rock of the time, which, of course, they put their own funky spin on. These same recording sessions also spawned Copeland’s debut album, Self Portrait, with featured Parliament as her backing band. Her influence on Osmium can’t be understated, as she penned two tracks on the album, including one of the most gorgeous moments of the band’s career, “The Silent Boatman.” An ode to Charon, the mythical ferryman of death, Copeland’s English folk blends acoustic guitars, harp and even bagpipes with the heavenly vocals of Simon and the rest of the gang. Although reviews were positive (Billboard said it was “something different and that’s a good sign”), sales of the album and its singles were underwhelming. Some of the band would stay with Copeland to record her follow-up, and the rest went on to a very different sound with the next Funkadelic album, magnum opus Maggot Brain. A few Osmium tracks and outtakes—including “Loose Booty” and “Red Hot Mama”—would later be re-recorded with Funkadelic. (Interested parties should track down the First Thangs CD, which features all of Osmium along with a few related outtakes and b-sides.)
The Parliament name would take a break after the album’s release but would be revived a few years later for Up For The Down Stroke, leading the band to bigger success and much funkier pastures. ….by magnet…
‘Making Osmium may not have been a fully satisfying experience, but the cover photo is one of my most vivid memories. We shot it up in Toronto. I wore a sheet and nothing else, and everyone was decked out in hippie regalia. What I remember most is how much acid we were doing at the time. We were eating lots of soul food and steaks, and when you eat that kind of food and drop acid, you start tripping on the meat. You see it pulsating, like it’s still alive. That was freaky, but what was worse was how it ran hell on our stomachs. They call LSD acid because that’s exactly what it is. It blows up your digestive system and blows your ass out. We spent more time in the bathroom in those days than you could imagine, and there were hemorrhoids everywhere. And while the acid may have given us second sight and opened our inner eye, it didn’t affect our sense of smell, unfortunately. We could smell perfectly and that shit was horrible. The shoot took place in a park, in a flower garden, and it was so hot that the sweat and salt was getting in everyone’s ass. Motherfuckers were crying like babies. And there were bees in there because it was a flower garden, so if it was a movie instead of a still photo, you could see people flinching and swatting, scared as shit.’ The words of George Clinton, …
THE SCENE: According to George Clinton, the five-man ex-doo-wop group Parliament performed polite music you could play for your mother, while their five-man backing band Funkadelic was the group that would scare your mother into cardiac arrest. The fact that all ten people were in the same band was simply a matter of convenience.
In 1970, even though Funkadelic was already signed to the Detroit-based Westbound label, Clinton signed Parliament to the Detroit-based Invictus label and delivered Osmium. Parliament had released several smoothed-out hit singles in the previous years, so the raw and roughneck Osmium had the effect of discovering that your seemingly normal parents were actually two-headed Martian warlords.
Although this album preceded their use of squiggly synths, alter egos and sci-fi concepts, Parliament still had loads of goofball energy and naïve eccentricity. Half the album is co-written by folk artist and label mate Ruth Copeland, and her straightforward melodicism and religious themes make a downright bizarre platform for the funk. “Oh Lord, Why Lord/Prayer” is a harpsichord and choir-led hymn based on Pachelbel “Canon” and is performed completely straight! No joking about Jesus this time around.
“Put a Little Love In Your Life” is a mini-progressive rock opera detailing the journey of a would-be star, with enough mood changes to rival a Broadway song. Slow organ riffs merge into spazzed-out guitar solos, voices drop in and out, tempos speed up at will, and yet it holds together.
Parliament gets its Nashville on with “Little Ole Country Boy”, a hyped-up country-and-western song complete with pedal steel guitar solo, washboard percussion and lots of yodeling. Yes, yodeling. Parliament also finds a place to showcase the bagpipes, of all instruments, on the beautiful dirge “The Silent Boatman”.
Peppered between these mid-tempo quasi-show tunes are lots of crazed funk songs. “Funky Woman” is an exceptionally tough call-and-response about personal hygiene that showcases guitarist Eddie Hazel’s sizzling tone and Clinton’s grizzled humor:
She hung them in the air Funky woman The air said this ain’t fair Funky woman
She hung them in the sun Funky woman The sun began to run Funky woman
She threw them on the line Funky woman The line, it started to cryin’ Funky woman
She threw them in the yard Funky woman The yard, it cried, Oh Lord!
The rockabilly “My Automobile” is a cute re-enactment of the songs’ own creation, with the band sitting around the studio harmonizing top-of–their-head lyrics, followed by the “real” version of the song. Osmium also contains an early version of Funkadelics’ “I Call My Baby Pussycat”, a naughty crunch rocker about, er, cats:
Now I’m a tom cat and you’re the pussycat And I’m just sittin’ here, licking my paw Now I’m the tom cat and you’re my little old pussycat Why don’t you scratch me on my back with your claw? … I don’t know, but I’ve been told That dogs are man’s best friend Wild and warm is my baby’s love My kitten is where it’s at
The album has a low-budget and fun country charm with a surprising amount of restraint, considering the source. Neither Parliament nor Funkadelic were ever this peculiar again.
THE FALLOUT: Even the band didn’t think an album this eclectic would sell many copies, and they were right. It did OK in Detroit but that was it. Parliament lost their recording deal but they were picked up by Casablanca in 1974 and released Up For the Down Stroke, which began a long string of bagpipe-free and high-selling albums. …by uppity music…….
Tracklist I Call My Baby Pussycat 3:50 Put Love In Your Life 5:05 Little Ole Country Boy 3:57 Moonshine Heather 4:04 Oh Lord, Why Lord / Prayer 4:59 My Automobile 4:43 Nothing Before Me But Thang 3:55 Funky Woman 2:54 Livin’ The Life 6:15 The Silent Boatman 5:50