Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Fabulous Counts Brought Bucketloads Of Funk Back In The Day

The Fabulous Counts were a talented soul/funk/jazz outfit out of Detroit who released some top-grade funk back in the 1970s. The band never quite got the recognition it deserved. But it’s understandable why the band was somewhat overlooked, because there was so much stiff competition at the time they were active (1968-76). During this period, there was a slew of amazing funk and soul bands on the scene. As a result, the Fabulous Counts kind of got lost in the mix. Nonetheless, the band released some great cuts back in the day. For instance, they dropped the badass track “What’s Up Front That Counts” in 1971. This is some serious funk right here—sizzling organ, heavy bass, tight horns, poppin’ congas, wicked guitar licks and kickin’ drums. This cut displayed what a strong lineup of musicians the band had. It was the title track from their 1971 album, which was released on Westbound Records. The LP boasts a quality selection of funk and R&B cuts.

The Fabulous Counts were formed in 1968 in Detroit, Michigan. The band’s original lineup was the following: Mose Davis (keyboards), Raoul Keith Mangrum (drums), Demo Cates (alto saxophone), Leroy Emanuel (guitar) and Jim White (tenor saxophone). The funky quintet quickly made a name for themselves on the local scene as both headliners and a backing band for national touring acts.  They eventually caught the attention of famed bandleader, songwriter and producer Robert “Popcorn” Wylie. The band worked with Wylie on recording their first single “Jan, Jan, ”which was released on the Detroit label Moira in late 1968. It’s a cold-ass jam with dope guitar work, funky horns and smooth bass.

And although the track just missed making the charts, it went on to become a cult classic and is probably the band’s most well-known track.  The song was also the title track for the band’s 1969 debut album, which was released on Cotillion Records—a subsidiary of Atlantic records. (The band left Cotillion in 1970 to sign with Westbound Records, which was home to high-caliber acts such as the Ohio Players and Funkadelic.) The album was helmed by legendary producer Ollie McLaughlin.

Jan, Jan also contained the band’s second single release “Dirty Red,” an energetic, soulful instrumental. The record didn’t receive much attention and disappeared without much fanfare. The band finally saw some chart action with their third single, the raw, hard-driving funk groove “Get Down People,” (1970), which was included on their album What’s Up Front That Counts. Leroy Emanuel delivers a gritty, show-stopping guitar solo on this hot cut, and Davis tears it up on the organ. The song peaked at #32 on the R&B charts in the US and #88 on the pop charts.

The album also included the ultra-funky track “Rhythm Changes.” The band had a few lineup changes following their move to Westbound but didn’t lose an ounce of its funk. They also changed their name to simply the Counts at this time.

Before breaking up in 1976, the Counts had recorded a string of great tracks that are still appreciated by old-school fans of the band as well as hardcore funk and R&B aficionados.

What's Up Front That Counts album at Amazon

Jan, Jan by the Fabulous Counts

Jan, Jan the album at Amazon

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