Thursday, February 26, 2015

Dallas Funksters The Soul Seven Kept It Raw And Dirty

The Soul Seven were a badass groove outfit out of Dallas who dropped some nasty funk back in the day. The funky septet was formed in 1969 at the small historically black educational institution Bishop College in Dallas, Texas. The group was assembled by the college’s assistant band director Wendell Sneed, an accomplished jazz drummer. He recruited six talented students who were attending the college on music scholarships and were members of Bishop’s Ambassador Marching band, which he led.

The members of the Soul Seven were Bishop Berry (baritone saxophone), Mike McKinney (bass), Charles Hunt (trombone), Eugene Goff (guitar), Harold Carrol (trumpet), Larry Blake (tenor saxophone) and Wendell Sneed (drums).  The band had a raw, dirty, no-frills funk sound. They released some funk gems on the fledgling Soultex label, including the super-tight instrumentals “Southside Funk," “Mr. Chicken Shit,” “Everything is Everything With The Soul Seven” and “The Cissy’s Thang.”

Although the massively funky track “Southside Funk” was recorded in the late 1960s, it remained unreleased until 2001. It’s one of the tracks on the terrific compilation album The Funky 16 Corners, which was released in 2001. The 22-song collection contains rare tracks that were recorded between 1968 and 1974 by relatively unknown funk and soul bands from across the United States. The album was released on independent label Stones Throw Records and is definitely a music-have for funk lovers. It contains great music from many unsung groove masters, who were laying down the hardcore funk with no filter back in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The album’s title was named after a track by the The Highlighters Band.

“Southside Funk” is a tribute to the black side of Dallas from which the Soul Seven hailed. It’s a wicked groove that boasts some treacherous bass work from Mckinney and a lowdown funky beat from Sneed. And Goff greases the funk with some tasty chicken-scratch licks.  Also, the tight horns provided by Hunt, Berry, Blake and Carrol further increase the groove’s funk quotient. Sonically, the track is a funky nod to the Mar-Keys’ track “Grab That Thang,” released in 1965.

“Mr. Chicken Shit” is another dope track by the band. The kinetic, percolating instrumental showcases the bands considerable chops, and Goff’s serves up some nasty funk on the guitar. And “The Cissy’s Thang” is simply funkalicious and features some stellar drumming from Sneed. Pop/R&B vocalist Christina Aguilera sampled a part of the track for her 2006 hit song “Ain’t No Other Man.” “Mr. Chicken Shit” and “The Cissy’s Thang” appear on the 2005 compilation Cold Heat: Heavy Funk Rarities 1: 1968-1974.

The Soul Seven broke up in the mid-‘70s, leaving behind some great funk. A new generation of funk aficionados have discovered the band’s music thanks to funk compilations such as Cold Heat and The Funky 16 Corners.

"Southside Funk"

Southside Funk at Amazon

"The Cissy's Thang"

The Cissy's Thang at Amazon

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