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

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