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12 Jun 2017

Country Funk"Country Funk"1970 US Private Psych Country Rock

Country Funk  "Country Funk" 1970 US Private Psych Country Rock


Country Funk was a folk-rock/country-rock group whose members at one point played in earlier psych pop combo Adam. The group materialized in Los Angeles but then moved out to Boston where they played all the well known venues of the day. Country Funk shared the stage with many of rock’s biggest names and because of their affiliation with Beantown, the group are usually remembered (unfairly so) as part of the Bosstown Sound. From 1968 to 1970/1971 they recorded quite a bit of studio material, enough to fill out two albums. In 1970, Polydor would release Country Funk’s only album in a generic blue sleeve with a black and white photo of the band. While no classic, Country Funk is still a very good album (kind of a mini gem) thats appeal lies in its consistency (no weak tracks) and timeless sound – think Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, CSN&Y and Poco. The group clearly had a knack for blending the blues, country, hard rock, folk, and psych into something that’s refreshing. The members of Country Funk could also play and write with the best of them, never overextending their songs or falling prey to dated 60s cliches.

The album opens with “Apart of Me,” a track that was issued as a single in 1970 and some years down the line, sampled by alternative pop star Beck Hansen. Clearly one of the LP’s highlights, this excellent track begins as a care-free country folk-rocker, exploding midway through into a soulful fuzz guitar rave-up.  The vocals are a dead ringer for Stephen Stills circa Buffalo Springfield Again – definitely a compliment here. Other winners are the trippy folk-rock of “Phoebe,” a track that recalls David Crosby’s work on the Byrds’ Younger Than Yesterday and the spritely country-rock of “A Way To Settle Down.” Country Funk tempers the album’s softer moments with hard edged fuzz tone guitar workouts such as “Another Miss” and “When I’m Without You.” These cuts give Country Funk an attractive classic rock/psychedelic edge. Also, songs like “Poor Boy,” “For Me,” and “Really My Friend” deliver the classic West Coast style folk-rock goods with aching melodies and harmonies to spare – not to mention tambourines and fine, world weary vocals. Given the quality of Country Funk, one wishes the group had stuck around long enough to record a follow up to this very promising LP.

Solid songs and thoughtful songwriting, succinct guitar solos, good use of fuzzbox and spirited vocals make Country Funk one of the finer, unsung American LPs of it’s time. Its been reissued no less than three times but our nod goes to British label Slipstream, who is now offering a group authorized version of Country Funk, which includes the single sides by precursor group Adam. In addition, CDBaby offers a CDR version of Country Funk on their website while the Fallout reissue from a few years back is an unauthorized vinyl rip bootleg......Rising Storm review.........

An early lover of rock and roll hides under a blanket in 1958, ear stuck to a radio rockin' Elvis, small town boy blown away by the Beatles, the Stones; works in a mill after high school, spends seven nights a week in the roadhouses along the New York State border, rescued by the Millard Fillmore String Quartet; off to New York city in January '68 to room with Hal and roadie for the group while they rock the great clubs of the day; sitting next to Tom Jones at Arthur's, shaking Tim Leary's hand at the Electric Circus when the Quartet opens for Ted Nugent …

We meet Buck Ram and drive to LA; Pennsylvania police escort Adam to see a judge for speeding but we make it over the hills of Hollywood to see the glittering lights of LA spread before us for the first time. In the Family, Adam handles bass while Jeff and Hal are the guitars and Joe keeps the beat. The gig at Gazzaris means hanging out on the Sunset Strip the summer of '68; something happening there; crashing together on Beechwood Drive; starving artists raiding the Hollywood Ranch Market for steaks and corn meal mush … the brotherhood of rock.

I leave in the fall to deny Uncle Sam's demands on my soul; meanwhile Country Funk is born with Adam, Hal, Jimmy and Joe and moves east; we reunite in '69; they play the many hot spots of Boston, open for countless great acts, in arenas now; hang out at Amphion with the hot acts of the time, Skunk Baxter getting started; now in the big house in Milford. Rock and roll life indeed; no more food raids thanks to Ray Paret's support of the band. Night brings squirt gun fights in the dark; and of course the ladies; to bed at dawn, up at two or three, rehearse or play out somewhere, spirits are high and so are we, mostly all the time.

The first album: we live on Nichols Canyon Road and in the studio with the great Gary Kellgren; Adam, Hal, Jimmy and Joe start off; then Joe goes and Vern comes aboard. When we are done we party at Kellgren’s Hollywood house; backyard badminton at three am; then back east for more gigs. I have to leave again for a final showdown with the army; I am deferred, free at last; do cartwheels down the street and head for Woodstock, five days of mud and great music. Then I hitchhike west; hook up with the band in Malibu while they work on the second album, now with CJ on drums. The tunes in progress are better than ever but Adam and Hal do not get along and soon the odyssey comes to a premature close.

Country Funk gave me the chance to expand my world beyond a small town in the hills of Massachusetts; they took me to New York and Hollywood; let me share their rock and roll dreams and join a band of brothers not bound by war but by the search for the endless melodic possibilities found in two guitars, bass and drums. For that I am forever grateful. Their music survives, resurrected and still strong. ......... by Robert Rouse........................

"Through the mists of funky time, the vagaries of chance, the theft of samples, the release of bootlegs and a believer in long lost bands in far flung lands across the nasty North Sea, the sounds of Country Funk are reborn!" .....Robert Rouse 2010 .....................

The sole album from Country Funk's original incarnation, released in 1970, has confused a certain number of latter-day listeners since it's not especially funky (at least not in the James Brown or George Clinton sense of the word), and while there's a noticeable country-rock undertow in this music, there's just as much semi-psychedelic fuzz guitar, hard rock attitude, and sunny folk rock vibe to be found. "Not This Time" and "A Way to Settle Down" put the band's country influences up front, and the tight guitar work from Adam Taylor and Hal Paris rings out clean and fresh when they embrace a down-home vibe (bassist Jim Lanham also adds the occasional pedal steel overdub), but Country Funk shine nearly as bright when they put some soul behind the blue-eyed R&B of "When I'm Without You," and the opening cut, which segues from upbeat acoustic guitars to heavy electric thunder at the 1:10 mark before shifting to acoustics back for a coda, sums up the group's eclecticism admirably well. Country Funk weren't content to do just one thing, and they sound capable and confident on the various styles they embrace; Taylor and Paris were solid songwriters and contributed fine harmonies, while Lanham and drummer Verne Johnson were a rhythm section with enough force to push the melodies forward but the good sense not to overpower the guitars. (Alternate drummer Joe Pfeifer sounds equally capable on his four tunes.) At their best, Country Funk suggests a more streamlined variation on what Moby Grape was doing on their third and fourth albums, and though they weren't as good as that masterful band, there's enough worth hearing on this album to wish Country Funk had stuck around long enough to record more than these twelve Mark Deming....................

Country Funk's 1970 debut album doesn't really have any country or funk etched in its grooves. If you are looking for something like that, allow me to suggest the music of Jim Ford or Joey Gregorash.

What the Country Funk does have in spades is some solid country-influenced boogie rock, with some psychedelic guitar work and kaleidoscopic harmonies. 
Their story is a one of classic missed chances and bad luck. Released in 1970, their debut was a hit with the critics and found the band traveling the nation, even opening for the Velvet Underground in Boston.

The album sold poorly, however, and the band's lineup was volatile. Comprised of dudes hip to the burgeoning folk-rock sound of L.A., songwriters Adam Taylor and Hal Paris, were joined by a rhythm section of Jeff Lockwood (bass) and drummers Joe Pfeifer and Verne Johnson. Despite high profile residences at places like Gazzari's, the group never found a strong foothold on the radio.

Which is a shame, too, because tracks like "Apart of Me," "Poor Boy," and "Comin' In" rock and reel with a classic West Coast ease, with the fuzzy guitars adding a crazy hard rock edge. Crate diggers have noticed, too, (see Beck's sampling of "Apart of Me" on "Sissyneck" from Odelay). ... BY JASON P. WOODBURY........................

"Jason Smith of the ever cool Fantastic Expedition 'zine has launched the Slipstream label to officially release the forgotten West Coast bands he so loves. His first release is a far superior, better sounding and legit version of Country Funk's only album. It boasts decent liner notes (based on an in depth interview from Fantastic Expedition) and four unreleased 1967 cuts from earlier outfit ADAM including the superb Bee Gees like "Woman" (later covered by Pure Prairie League) and the trippy "Melrose Street 5829" (which easily rivals anything Emitt Rhodes cut around this time).

Country Funk was released in May 1970 after a few name and line up a short prison sentence. At the album's heart lie the influences of Buffalo Springfield, Poco and a dose of hairy Byrds, Moby Grape and the Dead. Although not a classic, this loose-groovin' but tight collection of songs moves along nicely with genuine heart and soul." .................SHINDIG - April 2012 Review:...............

"Follow us deep down in the history of American Country-Rock of the 70s with the first release of the new British label Slipstream Records. It is the story of Adam Taylor who, together with his school pal Hal Paris, founded a number of bands until the end of the 60s, when they finally got a major contract with Polydor under the name of Country Funk. But in spite of being a first class band (for instance with bass player Jim Lanham, establishing member of the Pure Prairie League) and having a number of first class songs with influences from Blues, Folk, Country and Psychedelic, their debut could not achieve sales worth mentioning. A fact that is, from today´s view, simply unbelievable, as Country Funk delivers Country Rock à la Flying Burrito Brothers, Poco or the Gram Parsons-Byrds at its best. The Re-Issue of this hidden gem gets even better with additional 4 songs, that Taylor recorded with his former band Adam in 1967............German Magazine GOOD TIMES recent review:...............

"Transplanted New Yorkers who fell into the late 60s Boston scene via spells in California and, er, prison, Country Funk released an album and single via Polydor in 1970 - but sales resoundingly failed to inspire staffers to break out Cava and party hats in the label's boardroom. The single "A Part Of Me" (or "Apart Of Me", the original release helpfully spells it two different ways on the album sleeve and label), wheezed to no. 97 in Pennsylvania and that was all she wrote until the track was smartly sampled by Beck for "Sissyneck" from 1996's Odelay.

Despite rather unenticing packaging and short but sweet sleeve notes, this expanded reissue of that 1970 album should find a welcoming home wherever Chris Hillman's "Younger Than Yesterday" -era songs for the Byrds are valued. Majoring on the country element and minoring on the funk, the band's strengths mirrored Moby Grape: "Really My Friend", for example, features steeply banked harmonies over an aw-shucks lope, with a fizzing San Fran-style guitar solo to take it home. The same could be said of "A Way To Settle Down": sweet and tender roughneck country rock which subtly but crucially differed from the Eagles blend... to the tune of several million record sales.".......RECORD COLLECTOR - April 2012 Review:.......................

One of these days I need to make a list of all those albums I think would have been much more highly regarded, either in their own time or posthumously, if only they were packaged better. And out of all of those albums, this one would be way up at the top, for not only is this a good album, it's a great one, filled with tuneful, twangy, hard-edged rural rock straight from late The Byrds and the Crosby, Stills & Nash schools, but a little more in love with their effects pedals, bless 'em.

As a collector of psychedelic obscurities for several decades, I've never even heard of these guys. You might say that's just my fault, but as you can see by the 50 ratings and 70 cataloged as of this time, even on this site, this album has not had its day in the sun yet. Then you ponder that terrible band name, which would be low effort even for a Holiday Inn lounge act, and the painfully bland cover, and I can understand why it might have been ignored these past 45 years. Replace the cover with a colorful, hand-drawn psychedelic one, and move it from Polydor to a private pressing, and collectors would be blowing upwards of a grand on it, easy....VALIS666 ....................

Tracklist Hide Credits
A1 Apart Of Me 3:35
A2 Phoebe (Mourning Pink) 2:07
A3 Really My Friend 4:03
A4 Not This Time
Percussion – Joe Pfeifer
A5 For Me 2:59
A6 Poor Boy 4:45
B1 A Way To Settle Down
Percussion – Joe Pfeifer
B2 When I'm Without You 4:54
B3 Comin' In 3:03
B4 If I Find A Way (Song Of Love) 3:04
B5 Another Miss 2:50
B6 Want
Percussion – Joe Pfeifer

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..





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