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

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Beyoncé Sets The Stage On Fire at Star-Studded Stevie Wonder Tribute

R&B superstar Beyoncé more than lived up to her sobriquet Queen Bey in an incredible, roof-raising medley of some of Stevie Wonder’s hit songs. Her performance was one of the many highlights of the star-studded tribute special Songs in the Key of Life — An All-Star Grammy Salute, which aired Monday Night on CBS. The event was held at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

Beyoncé kicked off her performance in style with a sexy, diva-like strut down the aisle toward the stage. And once she arrived onstage, she blew the audience away with a soul-stirring performance of Stevie’s early classic “Fingertips, Pt 2.” She was then joined by British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran for a crowd-pleasing duet of the Motown legend’s 1980 hit “Master Blaster (Jammin’).” Beyoncé closed out the nine-minute medley with a powerful rendition of “Higher Ground” in which she traded vocals with acclaimed blues/R&B/rock guitarist Gary Clark, Jr., who wowed the audience with a scorching guitar solo.

The multi-Grammy winner completely commanded the stage from start to finish and demonstrated once again why she’s one of the most talented and dynamic artist/performers of her generation.

Other highlights of the night included Lady Gaga’s rousing rendition of “I Wish.” It was refreshing to see Gaga performing onstage without all the crazy gimmicks, bizarre costumes and over-the-top theatrics for a change. She showed that she can electrify an audience on pure talent alone. I think working with Tony Bennett has had a positive effect on her. We’re seeing a more mature and secure artist emerge who doesn’t feel the need to always be outrageous and over-the-top to capture an audience’s attention.

Additionally, the super-talented trio of India.Arie, Janelle Monáe and Jill Scott transfixed the audience with a brilliant reading of “As,” a track from Stevie’s landmark album Songs in the Key of Life. These three ladies did Stevie proud with this luminous performance.

Other performers at the event included Annie Lennox, John Legend, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Tony Bennett, Ariana Grande, Pharrell Williams, Andrea Bocelli, Jennifer Hudson, Ne-Yo and The Band Perry. And all of the performers brought their best to the stage for this amazing tribute special.

And for the finale, Stevie himself took to the stage to perform a medley of some of his classic tracks, including “Superstition,” “Overjoyed,” “Sir Duke,” “Ribbon in the Sky” and “You Are The Sunshine of My Life.” The multi-talented musician brought down the house with his patented stage magic and charisma. The event was a beautiful and well-deserved tribute to a true music visionary and legend.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Funkiest Female Bass Players

Bassist Yolanda Charles layin' down some dirty funk
As in hard rock, funk music has been a largely male-dominated field; however, over the years, a number of talented female artists have distinguished themselves in these respective genres with their considerable chops and undeniable musical gifts. And this can definitely be seen among female bass players in the funk world. There are a number of badass female bassists out there who can get down just as funky as the boys—and sometimes even out-funking their male counterparts.

So in recognition of these talented players, I’ve made up a list of my seven funkiest female bassists. And in addition to their impeccable technical prowess on the bass, all the players on my list have a natural feel for the instrument and bring tons of soul, passion and funk to their playing—because it’s not just about the notes you hit but the feeling you bring to them. So without further ado, here are my top seven funkiest female bass players in no particular order:

Alissia Benveniste

Bassist Alissia Benveniste has been capturing the attention of funk and R&B fans with her ace bass-playing chops and impressive skills as a live performer. And in addition to being a great bassist, the Swiss-born musician is also a talented singer, songwriter, arranger, producer and bandleader. She and her band, Alissia and the Funketeers, have been thrilling audiences with their dynamic funk sound and electrifying live shows. The video of the band performing Benveniste’s super-funky original track “Let it Out” at Berklee College of Music has been creating quite a buzz and currently has more than a million views on Youtube.

The young Berklee student’s career has really been blowing up of late. She was recently featured on the cover of Bass Quarterly Magazine and has worked with acclaimed hip-hop artist Q-Tip, as well as recorded for rap superstar Kanye West. And she is currently working on her solo debut album, which is set to drop sometime this year, according to her website.

L’dia on Bass

L’dia on Bass (aka Lydia Kaboesj) has funk running through her veins. She lives and breathes it. The Dutch musician is one of the baddest bass players on the scene right now. When she gets busy on the bass, you don’t just hear it—you feel it. And she’s a very well-rounded bassist, playing with smoothness, dexterity and finesse on jazzy/soul tracks and with a raw ferocity on the hard-hittin’ funk cuts.

In addition to being a skilled bassist, she’s an accomplished singer/songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist. She formed the Level 42 tribute band, Heathrow, several years ago, and they tore it up every time they hit the stage. Moreover, she has toured extensively throughout Europe with various talented music acts, including acclaimed saxophonist Candy Dulfer; and she even had the opportunity to jam on stage with bass legend Larry Graham.

And L’dia has not only been getting love from funk fans but also from noted musicians. For instance, celebrated bassist Marcus Miller (who’s her idol and one of her biggest influences) said the following about her: “L’dia Kills it. Her playing is joyful and fonky!” That’s high praise indeed from the bass master. L’dia also holds bass workshops, which include slapping tha bass and masterclass. And she’s currently working on some new workshops.

Additionally, she performs one-woman live shows using a loop station, which enables her to build a groove onstage on her own through the looping of different instrumental parts. The shows are called L’dia Goes Loopy. Her next one-woman loop concert is scheduled for February 28, 2015, according to her facebook page. The multitalented musician has released two albums Suleika (“Hop-‘o-my-thumb”) and Plonkay!  And in 2012, she released the original single “Little Bro,” which is a terrific slice of R&B/funk.

Plonkay! EP at Amazon

Nik West

Phoenix, Arizona native Nik West has been setting the funk world on fire with her sterling bass skills. West’s bass playing is dynamic, rock-solid and extremely funky. The musician comes from a musical family and originally played guitar. But that all changed when she discovered the bass in high school, and she has never looked back. And in addition to her gifts as a bassist, she’s a talented vocalist who possesses a powerful and soulful singing voice. West specializes in funk, rock and soul. And she has worked with music powerhouses such as Prince, Marcus Miller, Lenny Kravitz, Steven Tyler, John Mayer and Dave Stewart—all of whom have sung her praises. Legendary funkster and bass lord Bootsy Collins had this to say about her: “Nik West is definitely bringing back the funk groovement, and I love everything about what she stands for!”

The striking, statuesque musician is also an accomplished print and runway model and has graced the cover of Bass Musician Magazine twice and was featured in Bass Player, Bass Quarterly Germany and Bass Magazine Japan.  She also made the cover of Image & Style Magazine and landed endorsement deals with Fender and SWR Sound Corporation. And she even appeared on Glee.

West released her first album, Just In The Nik of Time, in 2011, and she recently dropped her new EP Say Somethin’, which is a superb collection of funk, soul and rock. And guitar phenom Orianthi is featured on the track “My Relationship.” Learn more about West at her website.

Say Somethin' at Amazon

Yolanda Charles

Yolanda Charles picked up the bass at age 15 and hasn’t put it down since. The talented London-born musician kicked off her career as a bassist for Jimmy Somerville from the Communards and within London bands Urban Species and Raw Sylus. And she has played in various soul, reggae and funk bands where she honed her chops in those styles.

Charles has made a name for herself doing session work for a number of distinguished, high-profile artists, including Paul Weller, Alison Moyet, Van Morrison, Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, B.B. King, Roger Daltry and Robbie Williams. And she has performed live with people like Sinead O'Connor, Natasha Bedingfield, Daryl Hall and Dave Stewart. It’s a testament to Charles’ prodigious skills and versatility on the instrument that so many acclaimed and legendary artists have recruited her to provide bass for their tracks. Her playing is marked by impeccable timing, precision and pure funkiness.

Moreover, Charles is a talented singer/songwriter and has been penning songs for almost as long as she’s been playing bass. And in addition to her session work, Charles leads the funk-fusion band The Deep MO. In 2009, the band released its self-titled EP on Charles’ label Groove4dayz Records and dropped a full album in 2012 entitled Funk in the 3rd Quarter. Charles wrote and arranged all the tracks on the terrific 10-song collection. She is currently recording an EP of vocal and instrumental tracks and has brought in some top musicians from the UK and France for the project. Check out some of The Deep Mo's music at their website.

Rhonda Smith

Bass dynamo Rhonda Smith brought truckloads of funk, style and attitude to the fold as a member of Prince’s band, the New Power Generation. It pretty much goes without saying that Smith’s a phenomenal bass player considering that she was a member of NPG—one of the tightest groove outfits on the planet—for nearly ten years. 

Smith was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and her family moved to Montreal when she was still a child. She grew up in a very musical environment and became interested in the bass. She went on to study jazz performance at McGill University in Montreal and began touring the local rock circuit with a small group of female musicians while still a student. This gigging experience helped significantly sharpen her bass chops.

Once she graduated, she was ready to set the world on fire with her bass skills and began working with prominent Canadian artists, including Claude Dubois, Daniel Lavoie, Robert Charlebois, and Joanne Blouin. And she won the prestigious Juno Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album for her work with Jim Hillman and The Merlin Factor.

Smith met acclaimed drummer and percussionist Sheila E. at a music convention in Germany, which led to her auditioning for a spot in Prince’s band, the New Power Generation. The Purple One liked what he heard and hired Smith on the spot; he immediately had her in the studio laying down bass parts on tracks for his upcoming three-disc album Emancipation, which was released in November of ‘96. And in addition to her work with the New Power Generation, Smith has performed with a veritable who’s who of music heavyweights, including Chaka Khan, Beyoncé, T. I., Erykah Badu, Patti Austin, Patrice Rushen, Brenda Russell, Lee Ritenour, Larry Graham, Patti Labelle, Little Richard, Najee, Candy Dulfer, Rachel Farrell, Kirk Whalum and George Clinton.

Smith is also a talented singer/songwriter and has released two solo albums: Intellipop (2000) and RS2 (2006). She wrote or co-wrote all the tracks on both collections. Additionally, Smith’s a member of the all-female band C.O.E.D. (Chronicles of Every Diva), which includes Shelia E. and acclaimed guitarist/vocalist/composer Kat Dyson. And Smith plays bass in Jeff Beck’s band. The band has a tour scheduled for this year, which is set to kick off on April 13, 2015 at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. Check out Smith's website for more tour date info and other news about the musician.

RS2 at Amazon

Me'Shell NdegéOcello

There weren’t many prominent female funk bass players on the scene when Me'Shell NdegéOcello blew up in the early ‘90s. The sultry-voiced soulster brought female funk bass players to the forefront with her tremendous bass skills, charisma and undeniable swag.  And in addition to her bass-playing abilities, she’s an accomplished vocalist, songwriter and rapper. Her sound is a unique mélange of funk, jazz, reggae, soul, rock and hip hop; some of the themes she takes on in song include race, politics, religion, homophobia and sexuality. And the multitalented artist is credited as having helped ignite the neo-soul movement that swept the music scene in the mid ‘90s. Moreover, her success no doubt has inspired girls and young women to pick up the bass.

NdegéOcello was born Michelle Lynn Johnson in Berlin, Germany. Her father, Jacques Johnson, was an army Sergeant Major and an accomplished saxophonist. She spent a few years in Germany before her family relocated in to Virginia and then Washington, D.C. And while growing up in D.C., she developed a deep interest in music and attended Duke Ellington School of Arts.  After that, the young bassist sharpened her funk chops through playing D.C.’s go-go circuit in the late ‘80s. During this period, she played with various go-go bands, including Prophecy, Little Bennie and the Masters, and Rare Experience. And after a stint at Howard University, NdegéOcello settled in New York to check out what the music scene in the Big Apple had to offer.

She was eventually signed to Madonna’s label Maverick Records, where she released her debut album, Plantation Lullabies, in 1993.  She was one of the first artists to be signed to the new label. The stellar collection of soul, funk and jazz cuts received high marks from noted music publications and earned her three Grammy nominations. The album climbed to #35 on U.S. R&B charts, and her single "If That's Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night)" peaked at #73 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album put NdegéOcello firmly on the map in the R&B music scene. The following year, she recorded a duet with John Mellencamp for a cover of Van Morrison’s song “Wild Night.” It peaked at #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and broke NdegéOcello into the mainstream. Some of the other noted artists with whom she has collaborated include Chaka Khan, Billy Preston and Herbie Hancock.

NdegéOcello has released eleven albums over the years and dropped her most recent album, Comet, Come to Me, in 2014.  She has received ten career Grammy nominations, and her music has also been featured on a number of film soundtracks.

Comet, Come to Me at Amazon

Ida Nielsen

Prince has always recruited the baddest and most talented female players for his bands, a practice that dates back to the early 1980s with his band the Revolution, which included members Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman. And he continues this practice with Ida Nielsen, who plays in his band the New Power Generation. She’s also a member of the Purple One’s newly formed all-female band 3rdEyeGirl. The talented Danish bassist, vocalist and composer has been funkin’ up a storm as a member of these two bands.  Her playing is massively funky, and she can thump and pluck like nobody’s business—hence her nicknames Ida Funkhouser and BASSIDA.

Nielsen began her funky journey at the age of 16 when she first picked up the bass. She attended the Royal Danish Academy of Music where she earned a diploma in electric bass. After that, she played with a number of bands before joining up with Prince; some of those bands included Zap Mama and MLTR. In 2010, Prince saw her MySpace page and was so impressed with her bass skills that he had his manager invite her to Minneapolis for a jam session. The jam session turned out well, with Nielsen becoming the New Power Generation's new bass player.

And in 2013, Nielsen became a member of the newly formed 3rdEyeGirl. She played bass on Prince’s recent album Art Official Age, as well as 3rdEyeGirl’s debut album PLECTRUMELECTRUM. The albums were released simultaneously on September 30, 2014. Nielsen has released two solo albums, Marmelade (2008) and Sometimes a Girl Needs Some Sugar Too (2011). Learn more about this talented funkster at her facebook page.

Super-funky cut by Ida from 2011

Sometimes a girl needs some sugar too (album at Amazon)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Songs With Great Bass Intros

Bass Master Marcus Miller
There’s nothing like a cool bassline to kick off a track in style. Many classic songs have been launched by a great bassline. With that in mind, I decided to put together a list of my 26 favorite bass intros. Here’s my list in no particular order:

I Wish Stevie Wonder

Nathan Watt’s irresistible walking bassline launches Stevie Wonder’s classic in a big way. The bassline really pulls the groove together and hits right in the pocket. This funky, high-energy track is from Stevie’s landmark Grammy-winning album Songs In The Key of Life, which was released in 1976. The song reached #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard’s soul singles charts in the U.S.

I Wish at Amazon

Brazilica – Ramsey Lewis

This beautiful Afro-Latin instrumental has an Earth, Wind & Fire vibe to it, which is not surprising considering EWF’s founder and guiding light Maurice White co-wrote and co-produced the track. And Ron Harris provided the excellent slap bassline, which nicely opens the song. It’s a single from Ramsey Lewis’ 1976 album Salongo—a superb collection of jazz, soul, Latin and funk tracks.

Brazilica at Amazon

Hair – Graham Central Station

Larry Graham’s unique and extremely funky bassline sets this powerful groove in motion. It’s one of my favorite Graham basslines. The track is from Graham Central Station’s self-titled debut album, released in 1974.

Hair at Amazon

Come Together – The Beatles

Paul McCartney’s slightly ominous bassline sets the tone for this amazing John Lennon-penned Beatles classic. It’s a single from the Beatles’ eleventh studio album Abbey Road (1969). The song shot to the summit of the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. and peaked at #4 on the UK singles chart.

Come Together at Amazon

If You Want Me To Stay – Sly & the Family Stone

Rustee Allen’s laid-back, melodic bassline at the song’s intro eases the listener into this introspective, bittersweet track. The bassline nicely frames Sly’s soulful vocals. The track was a single from Sly & the Family Stone’s Fresh album, which was released in 1973. It climbed to #12 on the U.S. pop singles charts and #3 on the R&B singles charts. It was the band’s last song to make it into the top 20 on the U.S. pop charts.

If You Want Me To Stay at Amazon

Super Bon Bon – Soul Coughing

Sebastian Steinberg’s bodacious double bass kicks this trippy but oddly funky alternative groove into gear. The track is from Soul Coughing’s second album Irresistible Bliss (1996).

Super Bon Bon at Amazon

Dusic – Brick

Ray Ransom’s creative and very funky bass line drives this bumpin’ dance groove by Atlanta jazz/funk band Brick. The track is a single from Brick’s self-titled sophomore album, released in 1977. The song climbed all the way to #3 on the U.S. soul charts and peaked at #18 on the pop charts.

Dusic at Amazon

Skin Tight – The Ohio Players

Marshall "Rock" Jones’ hypnotic bassline sets off this sexy ode to streetwalkers. “Skin Tight” is the title track from the Ohio Players’ fifth studio album, which was released in 1974. The song had a strong showing on the charts, climbing all the way to #2 U.S. R&B charts and peaking at #13 on the pop charts.

Skin Tight at Amazon

Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) – Sly & the Family Stone

Larry Graham introduced his dynamic and highly inventive thump-and-pluck bass technique on this explosive 1969 funk classic. Sly & the Family Stone were way ahead of their time when they recorded this super-syncopated, bass-driven groove-fest. It still sounds as fresh and original as it did when it first hit the airwaves more than 45 years ago. The track topped both the R&B and pop charts in the U.S., and it has influenced legions of funk artists and bassists in its wake.

Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) at Amazon

Ball of Confusion (That's What The World Is Today) – The Temptations

This powerful political-message track opens with Funk Brother Bob Babbitt’s iconic bassline. The foreboding bassline effectively captures the dread and fear of a chaotic world possibly on the brink self-destruction.  This is one of the Tempts' most popular Norman Whitfield-era tracks. The song was released in 1970 and peaked at #3 on the U.S. pop singles chart and #2 on the R&B charts.

Ball Of Confusion (That's What The World Is Today) (Stereo Version)

Chameleon – Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock ignited this monster groove with an incredibly funky bassline, which he played on the ARP Odyssey, an analog synthesizer. It’s one of the most recognized funk basslines of all time. This jazz standard was a single from Hancock’s landmark album Head Hunters (1973) in which he teamed up with jazz masters Paul Jackson (bass), Harvey Mason (drums) and Bennie Maupin (multireedist). The collection is considered one of the definitive jazz-funk albums.

Chameleon at Amazon

Come Alive (The War of the Roses) – Janelle Monáe

Nate “Rocket” Wonder supplied the spooky bassline for this manic punk/swing track. It’s from Janelle Monáe's critically acclaimed album The ArchAndroid (2010). The track is a crowd favorite at her concerts, and she always works her audiences into a frenzy whenever she performs it.

Come Alive ( The War Of The Roses) at Amazon

Gigantic – Pixies

This wonderfully idiosyncratic song opens with Kim Deal’s soothing, indelible bassline. It’s a really simple line, but it's extremely effective in underlining Deal’s serene lead vocals early in the song. "Gigantic" is one of Pixies' most recognized songs and a fan favorite at their concerts. It’s a single from the influential alternative rock band's critically acclaimed album Surfer Rosa (1988), which was their first full-length LP.  The song was co-written by Deal and Black Francis.

Gigantic at Amazon

Watch Out Baby! – George Duke

Bass virtuoso Stanley Clarke kicks off this funkalicious track with some wicked thumpin' and plucking. It's from legendary jazz keyboardist George Duke’s 1977 landmark album Reach for It.

Watch Out, Baby! at Amazon

Jam of the Year – Prince

Prince’s smooth bassline jump-starts this dope laid-back groove. The track is from The Purple One’s triple-disc album Emancipation (1996).

Emancipation CD at Amazon

Better By The Pound – Funkadelic

This fantastic track is one of my favorite cuts from Funkadelic’s classic album Let’s Take It to the Stage (1975). At the song’s intro, Billy “Bass” Nelson effectively sets the mood with a mysterious and haunting bassline. And Eddie Hazel and Garry Shider bring tons of soul and passion to their co-lead vocals. The song was co-written by Hazel and George Clinton. Meshell Ndegeocello did a really dope cover of this song back in 2002, which was on her album Cookie: The Anthropological Mixtape.  It’s definitely worth checking out for those who haven’t heard it. The acclaimed artist puts her own unique and funky spin on the track.

Better By The Pound at Amazon

Superfly – Curtis Mayfield

This superb slice of R&B is about the protagonist of the Blaxploitation cult classic Super Fly. Joseph “Lucky” Scott provided the smoothly funky bassline, which effectively launches this great cut. The song is the title track from Curtis Mayfield’s critically acclaimed soundtrack to the 1972 film Super Fly, which is about a New York City cocaine dealer looking to find a way out of the drug game. The album spawned two huge hits, the title track (#5 R&B, #8 Pop) and “Freddie’s Dead” (#2 R&B, #4 Pop). It’s now considered one of the top film soundtracks of all time and one of the few soundtracks to out-gross the film it accompanied. It’s also made several top album lists of noted music publications.

Superfly at Amazon

Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough – Michael Jackson

This MJ-penned dance/funk classic has one of the most recognized and iconic bass intros ever. Most R&B, funk and pop music lovers can instantly identify the song from just hearing those first two bass notes at the song’s opening. The bass part at the intro was played on synth bass by keyboard wizard Greg Phillinganes; and legendary bass man and funk master Louis “Thunder Thumbs” Johnson joins in once the groove kicks off proper.

“Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” was the lead single from MJ’s landmark 1979 album Off The Wall. The track skyrocketed to the top of both the R&B and pop charts in the U.S. And it remained atop the R&B charts for six weeks. The track peaked at #3 in the UK and made the top ten in several other countries. The double platinum-selling single earned the pop/soul superstar a Grammy for Best R&B Male Vocal Performance at the 1980 Grammy Awards.

Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough at Amazon

GO! – Tones On Tail

Glenn Campling’s urgent fuzz bassline drives this frenzied, kinetic groove. The irresistible bassline really pulls you in and gets you movin’. This track is from English post-punk band Tones On Tail’s LP The Album Pop, which was released in 1984. The members of the now defunct band were Daniel Ash (guitar, vocals), Glenn Campling (bass) and Kevin Haskins (drums). “Go!” appeared on the soundtrack for the 1997 comedy Grosse Pointe Blank and was used in an episode of the popular television series Beverly Hills, 90210.

Go! at Amazon

Pluck (Interlude) – Marcus Miller

Bass titan Marcus Miller lays down some nasty bass-poppin’ funk on this badass groove. It’s from the acclaimed musician’s 2007 album Free.

Pluck at Amazon

Slide – Slave

This powerful funk/dance groove was blasted in cars and played at parties and clubs across the U.S. back in 1977.  Mark “The Hanselor” Adams opened the track with a treacherous bassline that was sure to get heads bobbin’ and booties shakin'.  It was a single from Slave’s self-titled debut album, which was released in 1977. The track topped the U.S. R&B charts and climbed to #32 on the pop charts.

Slide at Amazon

Funkify Your Life – The Meters

George Porter, Jr.’s infectious, hard-groovin’ bassline at the song’s intro lets listeners know that they’re in for a helluva funky ride. Very few bands could out-funk the Meters, one of the greatest and most influential funk bands of all time. This Latin-flavored funk gem is a track from the band’s eighth studio album, New Directions, released in 1977. The track also has some cool talk-box guitar work from Leo Nocentelli.

Funkify Your Life at Amazon

Bustin’ Out (On Funk) – Rick James

Oscar Alston’s memorable bassline anchors this rousing funk anthem. It’s one of “punk-funk” bad boy Rick James’ best- known tracks and probably his funkiest. It was a single from his second album Bustin’ Out of L Seven, which was released in 1979. The song performed well on the U.S. R&B singles chart, peaking at #8. In 2007, it enjoyed a big resurgence in popularity due to its inclusion on the soundtrack of the comedy smash Superbad.

Bustin' Out (On Funk) at Amazon

Hey Man Nice Shot – Filter

Richard Patrick opens this track with a sinister bassline that fits the subject matter extremely well. The 1995 single is about the public suicide of Pennsylvania state treasurer R. Budd Dwyer, who shot himself during a press conference on January 22, 1987. He was scheduled to be sentenced the next day for a conviction on bribery charges in December of 1986, and he was expected to receive a long sentence. Dwyer professed his innocence to the end. Many people incorrectly believe the song is about Kurt Cobain’s suicide in 1994.

 The track was the first single from industrial rock band Filter’s debut album Short Bus (1995).  The song saw some decent chart action, peaking at #10 on the U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks and climbed to #19 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock tracks. And it reached #76 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The track was also featured in a scene from the Jim Carrey dark comedy The Cable Guy (1996).

Hey Man Nice Shot at Amazon

Action Speaks Louder Than Words – Chocolate Milk

New Orleans funk/soul band Chocolate Milk dropped this searing political-message song back in 1975. The song boasts some dope synth work from Robert Dabon, including a super-funky Moog bassline. It's the title track from the band’s debut album, which was released in 1975.

Action Speaks Louder Than Words at Amazon

It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me - Barry White

Nathan East’s irresistibly funky bassline opens this sterling disco/funk smash in epic fashion. The track is eight-plus minutes of pure sonic magic. It was the first single from Barry White’s 1977 album Barry White Sings for Someone You Love. The song topped the U.S. R&B charts for five weeks straight and climbed to #4 on the U.S. pop charts.

It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me At Amazon

Sunday, February 1, 2015

"Elevate My Mind" By Stereo MC’s

Acclaimed English hip-hop/electronic dance group Stereo MC’s dropped this kinetic rap/dance track back in 1990. The powerful groove is propelled by Matthew Seligman’s super-funky bass line, and drummer Owen If serves up a monstrous beat. And rapper Rob B. delivers his creative verses in a smooth, effortless fashion. Additionally, vocalist Cath Coffey brings the funk on the track’s soulful hook. This hot track was blasted at parties and clubs across the UK and also in the states back in the day. And it still gets play at clubs and on many radio stations today.

“Elevate My Mind” was a single from Stereo MC’s second album, Supernatural, which was released in 1990. It was the group’s first successful single, and it had the distinction of being the first British rap song to chart on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, peaking at #39. And it climbed to #36 on the Hot Dance/Maxi-Single Sales chart in the states and peaked at #74 on the UK singles charts. The album received high marks from music critics and praise from hip-hop heads and club/dance music fans. And it helped Stereo MC’s build a strong and loyal fan base. The album also led to the group booking tours with well-known acts such as the Happy Mondays and EMF.

Stereo MC’s achieved even bigger success with their third album, Connected (1992). The collection spawned four major hits for the group, including the title track, which became their biggest hit and what they’re most recognized for. It went to # 18 on the UK singles chart and #20 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. And it made the Top 10 in Austria (#5), Switzerland (#6) and Sweden (#8). Moreover, the album itself performed extremely well on the charts, peaking at #2 on the UK Album charts. And it won the Best British Album at the 1994 Brit Awards.

Stereo MC’s were formed in Clapham, London in 1985 when rapper/songwriter/vocalist Rob B. (born Robert Birch) and DJ/producer The Head (born Nicholas Hallam) launched the Gee Street label to promote their music. Shortly thereafter, Gee Street got a distribution deal with the New York-based label 4th & Broadway. Under this deal, Stereo MC’s released several singles before dropping their debut album, 33-45-78, in 1989.

The original lineup for the group upon the release of their debut album was Rob B., The Head, DJ Cesare (born Cesare Marcher), drummer Owen If (born Ian Frederick Rossiter) and vocalist Cath Coffey (born Catherine Coffey). And Andrea Bedassie and Verona Davis provided backing vocals for the group’s live shows. DJ Cesare left Stereo MC’s before they released their album Supernatural. The group released its last album, Emperor’s Nightingale, in 2011.

Stereo MC’s are one of the most prominent and successful hip-hop acts that Great Britain has ever produced. The group's innovative and dynamic sound encompasses a diverse selection of styles, including hip hop, acid jazz, house, club/dance, electronica, alternative dance, trip-hop and alternative rap. The group has influenced a slew of artists in their wake.

Rob B. and The Head continue to be highly sought-after producers, and Stereo MC's still blow up the stage at their live concerts. They’re touring this year and already have some dates lined up in March.  For more info about Stereo MC’s and concert dates, check out their website.

Elevate My Mind at Amazon