Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Bar-Kays' Holy Ghost

In 1978, the Bar-Kays scorched the airwaves with their explosive funk hit "Holy Ghost." Funk doesn't get much better than this--ballsy, unapologetic and in-your-face. The groove is propelled by James Alexander's ferocious slap bass line, which is shadowed by a synthesized bass part to give it a thick, mechanized funk sound. Lead singer Larry Dodson delivers a powerful and gritty vocal performance. And the tight horn arrangement puts an exclamation point on the funk. The lyrics describe a woman whose love is so potent that it's akin to a religious experience for the song's narrator when the two hit the sheets, giving him sort of a spiritual/sexual rebirth.

The 12" extended version of the track is nearly nine minutes of glorious uncut funk, which includes a great percussion-filled breakdown. This long version was played at clubs, parties and discos back in the day and had folks burning up the dance floor.

"Holy Ghost" is a single from the Bar-Kays' 1978 album Money Talks. The track performed extremely well on the U.S. R&B singles charts, peaking at #9. The album also saw some chart action, climbing to #21 on the U.S. Billboard Soul Album chart.

The track was written by Eddie Marion, Henderson Thigpen and James Banks. It was produced by the late Allen A. Jones, who helmed all of Money Talks.  The line-up for the Bar-Kays when they released "Holy Ghost" was the following: Larry Dodson (lead vocals), Lloyd Smith (Guitar), James Alexander (bass, vocals), Michael Beard (drums), Charles Allen (trumpet, vocals), Harvey Henderson (tenor sax), Winston Stewart (keyboards), and Frank Thompson (trombone). Multi-instrumentalist, composer and engineer Paul Smith played the synth bass part on "Holy Ghost" but wasn't a member of the band.

"Holy Ghost" is a genuine funk classic and has been sampled by several prominent music acts, including Beastie Boys ("Hey Ladies"), Public Enemy ("Fear of a Black Planet"), Cee-Lo Green ("Glockappella") and M/A/R/R/S ("Pump Up the Volume").

Download "Holy Ghost" at Amazon


Eddie Spaghetti said...

We danced our butts off in the bottom floor of Dillans in Westwood, thought i had really touched the pulse of funk!
Good times with my El Camino bro Mickey

Unknown said...

Holy Ghost was cranking back in 78 when it debuted and it still gets the party going 43 years later this is a classic like no other