Saturday, September 22, 2012

Learning funk music one crate of records at a time - Part 2

Artist: Brick
Album: Good High
Today’s first LP on the turntable is “Good High” by a band called Brick.
First off this LP gets an A+ in my book for the cover alone! Damn I love the covers on these funk albums!
Brick was a funk band from Atlanta Georgia that was active in the 70’s and 80’s. Apparently they were known for fusing funk and jazz.  They consisted of the basics: drums; bass; guitar; keyboards and some horns.
I can really feel the jazz in this album which I really love. The breaks they have with the Saxophone in the single “dazz” is awesome. And who doesn’t’ love a bitchin flute solo once in a while! I’ll be digging out my Herbie Mann albums as soon as this one is over!
They just have a different kind of groove than the other funk albums I started with. The crisp sound of the hi-hats and tamer bass give them a distinct rhythm section that I find unlike any other. Instead of the bass being in the lead the entire song like many of the other artists it fades to the background from time to time and then he waits his turn to let it rip which really makes it stand out as a solo by itself.
One thing I have learned getting into funk music so far. Lyrically it may not be up to snuff with some of my other favorite genres. It’s the rhythm section that intrigues me of this style. Fun lyrics though.. How great is the first verse of “Dazz”?
Everybody go on and dance
If you want to
Music makes your body move
Well all right
Funky dancing get up
Get down, shake your booty
Music makes your body move
Well all right
You don’t even need music to dance with those lyrics!
next in the crate.........
Artist: Marvin Gaye
Album: Midnight Love
Next up we have a Marvin Gaye album. Now this is not as pure funk as the first bunch of albums I discussed in this series. However, I definitely feel that it falls in the funk category and deserves a spot here.
In short, I absolutely hated this record when I played it through the first time.
But wait… It’s Marvin Gaye and I hated it? I mean this is the same guy who did “What’s going on”.. One of my all-time favorite LP’s ever!
For this reasoning and this reasoning alone I put it on the turntable for a second time and gave it another shot... 
Ok how can I approach this….? Clear my head… Bring myself to a 1980’s frame of mind… Keep in mind that a drum machine is supposed to sound like…. well…. a drum machine.. not an acoustic drum set… Keep that open frame of mind and accept that the synthesizer was supposed to sound as cheesy as it did.. (please tell me it was supposed to sound that cheesy!)
Alright… second time through side A and I at least started to appreciate it..
But this is Marvin.. MARVIN!.. One more time side A… this is it..
You know what.. It grew on me.. “what’s going on” it sure isn’t but overall it is a solid well written album…
Whew…. You’re lucky Marvin.. I really had to work  for this one…
Marvin had just fulfilled his contractual obligations with Motown and was on a comeback tour after he sobered up from his substance abuse problem (this was a temporary sober period in his later life).
Once he started on his comeback tour Columbia signed him to a three album contract. This was the first album under this contract and unfortunately his last album in his lifetime as his father murdered him a few years after its release. 
He was really trying to compete with the popular musicians of the early 80’s with this album. It fits right in with Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie and Rick James albums released in this period.
Apparently Marvin was convinced to provide a similar sound to these artists to compete with their popularity. Marvin pushed to make the charts with this album, he recorded what he knew was mainstream at the time. He originally planned on recording a more personal album with references to his substance abuse and recent sobriety. I would have preferred the personal approach that Marvin originally aimed for but there was definitely a place in the early 80’s for this Marvin Gaye LP.

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