Sunday, August 9, 2015

"Funky Worm" By The Ohio Players

“Funky Worm” was the first big hit for Dayton-based funk/R&B band the Ohio Players. It’s a ridiculously funky groove that showcased the band’s wicked sense of humor. The song, which hit the airwaves in 1973, features the character Granny, who owns a magical worm that knows how to funk and can “play guitar without any hands.” She along with the Ohio Players have the worm audition for a record exec, and massive funk and insanity ensue.

The groove kind of creeps along at a slow, crawling pace befitting the song’s titular character. And it contains some marvelous synthesizer work from Junie Morrison, who also provided the Granny voice. Morrison played his synth parts on an ARP Pro-Soloist, an analog synthesizer. Additionally, Greg Webster puts some extra stank on the funk with his sick drumming. The track also features some cool horn lines. It’s just a fun, funky cut.

The track was written and produced by Morrison and was the third single off the Ohio Players' third studio album Pleasure, which was released in December of 1972. It topped Billboard’s R&B singles charts in the U.S. and peaked at #15 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The album itself also performed well, peaking at #4 on Billboard U.S. R&B top albums chart and #63 on Billboard U.S. pop album chart. And it’s a strong collection of tracks. In addition to “Funky Worm,” some of the other stand-out cuts on the album include “Pleasure,” Laid It,” and “Walked Away From You.” The album was released on Westbound Records.

“Funky Worm” also became a favorite in the hip-hop community; a slew of hip hop artists have sampled it, including Kris Kross (“Jump”), De La Soul (“Me Myself and I”), N.W.A. (“Dopeman”), The Game, featuring Snoop Dogg and Xzibit (“California Vacation”) and Ice Cube (“Ghetto Bird”).

The lineup for the Ohio Players when they dropped “Funky Worm” was the following: Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner (guitar, vocals), Gregory Webster (drums), Marshall Jones (bass), Walter “Junie” Morrison (keyboards, vocals), Ralph “Pee Wee” Middlebrooks (sax, trumpet) and Clarence “Satch” Satchell (sax, flute, vocals).

Funky Worm at Amazon

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

“Come Unto Me” By The Mavericks

I’ve recently become addicted to the song “Come Unto Me” by the Mavericks. The track is an indelible aural feast that’s full of great hooks and assorted ear candy; it has an infectious Latin-tinged surf-rock vibe that will have you wearing out the repeat button. The twangy reverb-laden guitar riff evokes images of a desert mirage; and Raul Malo’s haunting lead vocal is reminiscent of vintage Roy Orbison. The song also boasts a killer accordion solo, and it closes out with an equally badass trumpet solo. Additionally, the song has a strong cinematic feel. I could easily imagine hearing it played in a scene from a Robert Rodriguez or Quentin Tarantino flick. Hell, it would even fit right in with one of Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns.  It’s just a brilliant track.

The Mavericks are an American band that was formed in Miami, Florida in 1989; the band is guided by the multi-talented Cuban-American singer/songwriter/guitarist and producer Raul Malo. The original lineup for the band was Malo, guitarist Ben Peeler, bassist Robert Reynolds and drummer Paul Deakin. The band's eclectic sound covers a wide selection of styles, including Tex-Mex, rockabilly, traditional country, Latin, neo-traditional country, Americana, rock, country-rock and progressive country.

Since their formation, the Mavericks have recorded tons of great music over the years, earning a devoted international following in the process. They have released two platinum-selling albums and have won several prestigious music awards, including a Grammy for their 1995 song “Here Comes The Rain.” Moreover, 14 of their songs have charted on Billboard’s country charts. Their highest charting single in the U.S. was “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down,” which climbed to #13 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs singles chart. They’re also a terrific live act, and they never disappoint their fans in concert.

“Come Unto Me” was written by Malo and is a track from the Mavericks’ 2013 album In Time. The collection was a critical and commercial success; it garnered mainly high marks from noted music critics and peaked at #8 on U.S. Billboard Top Country album chart and reached #39 on the U.S. Billboard 200. Also, "Come Unto Me" was featured on the soundtrack for the 2013 film Grudge Match, which starred Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro and Kevin Hart.

The Mavericks have undergone several personnel changes over the years, and they continue to record and tour. In February of this year, they released the album Mono. The collection debuted at #5 on the Billboard Hot Country Album chart in the U.S. The band has tour dates lined up for later this month and in September. Check out their website for concert dates and other info about the band.

According to the Mavericks' website, the current lineup for the band is the following: Raul Malo (lead vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, piano and percussion); Paul Deakin (drums, percussion and marimba); Eddie Perez (electric and acoustic guitars); and Jerry Dale McFadden (piano, organ and celeste).

The Mavericks performing "Come Unto Me" live

"Come Unto Me" at Amazon