Sunday, November 13, 2016

Prince Performing “D.M.S.R.” at 2004 Concert in Detroit

There’s nothing like a shot of some Purple Funk to help overcome post-election withdrawal, and this exhilarating clip is just the ticket. It’s a video of Prince and his band performing his monster funk track “D.M.S.R.” at a Detroit show during his Musicology Live 2004ever tour.

This clip is another reminder of what a phenomenal talent the world lost with Prince’s untimely passing last April. His Royal Badness brought heaps of energy, charisma and raw funk to this roof-rattling performance.  

The funk here is nasty and unrelenting.  Prince and his band had the paint peeling off the walls at Detroit’s legendary Joe Louis Arena with this massively funky performance.

The Purple One was backed by a crew of some of the baddest players on the planet for this explosive set. Horn legend Maceo Parker scorched the stage with his dazzling sax work, and trombonist Greg Boyer served up a bodacious ‘bone solo. And rounding out the dynamic horn section was sax diva Candy Dulfer, who helped augment the funk with her powerhouse playing.

Additionally, bassist Rhonda Smith and drummer John Blackwell didn’t miss a drop of funk and flawlessly anchored the groove with their tremendous chops. And guitarist Mike Scott contributed some tasty chicken-scratch licks.

This performance also showcased Prince’s wicked sense of humor; one of the highlights has him and band members doing the “pimp-step” dance in unison.

This clip captures the excitement and energy of a Prince concert and displayed what an incredible live performer he was. The artist never left his audience disappointed, always delivering that pure uncut funk that kept booties shakin', heads bobbin' and armpits stankin'.  

Monday, October 10, 2016

RonKat Spearman Serves Up Some Piping Hot Funk On “Dance Transformer”

RonKat Spearman graced the funk world with this wicked groove back in 2009.  It’s a deliciously funky cut in which the multitalented musician displayed his versatility in the studio. RonKat wrote, produced and arranged the track, as well as played all the instruments.
"Dance Transformer" boasts a powerful beat and an irresistible chorus delivered by the soulful female backup singers. RonKat augments the funk with some cool talkbox work and mechanized vocal effects. 
Additionally, he serves up a scorching guitar solo and a smooth rap performance. The song touches on the power of funk--and by extension the power of music in general--and how it can be used as a weapon to eradicate hate and racism.
This is a groove that any true funk lover can appreciate, and it still sounds just as funky and fresh after many repeated plays.

RonKat is a P-Funk veteran. He toured with George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic as a P-Funk All-Star for 10 years. In 2010, he took a hiatus from touring with the legendary funk outfit to focus all of his energies on his own band, Katdelic, one of the hottest funk acts in the Bay Area.

Visit Katdelic’s website to keep up with all of the band's performance dates and new music releases.

 Check out my interview with RonKat: RonKat Spearman's Katdelic Ignites a New Funk Revolution Across the Bay Area

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Acclaimed Songwriter Rod Temperton Dies at 66

British songwriter, producer and musician Rod Temperton died today following a battle with cancer. He was 66. 

Temperton was best known for penning the Michael Jackson classics “Off The Wall,” “Rock With You” and “Thriller,” which is one of Jackson’s most iconic tracks and a worldwide Halloween anthem. The gifted songwriter also wrote the gems “The Lady in My Life” and “Burn This Disco Out” for MJ.
In addition to his work with Jackson, Temperton was the keyboardist and primary songwriter for the popular disco/funk band Heatwave, where he penned the ‘70s dance-floor hits “Boogie Nights" and “The Groove Line.”  He also wrote the classic soul ballad “Always and Forever” with Heatwave.
Temperton was a prolific and sought-after songwriter/producer and had written tracks for celebrated artists such as Herbie Hancock, George Benson, Patti Austin, Donna Summer, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, the Brothers Johnson and James Ingram, among many others.
He was also nominated for the Best Original Song Oscar in 1986 for "Miss Celie's Blues," which he co-wrote with Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie for The Color Purple (1985).

Sunday, September 25, 2016

"I Just Want to Be" by Cameo

Cameo dropped this hot party track back in 1979. With this blazing cut, the famed New York City band showed once again that they didn’t play when it came to funk.

The song is driven by Aaron Mills’ savagely funky bass line, and Wayne Cooper and Tomi Jenkins bring some church to the proceedings with their soulful vocals. Bandleader Larry Blackmon anchors the groove with his rock-solid drumming.

Cool sonic flourishes, such as random simian sounds from Jenkins on the cuica and Gregory Johnson’s squiggly synth vamps, help augment the track’s fun party vibe. Also, Arnett Leftenant (sax), Nathan Leftenant (trumpet) and Carl Harleston (trombone) keep things nice and funky with their tight horn volleys.

The groove is marked by Cameo’s singular funk sound—brisk rhythm guitar licks, thunderous beat, unique vocals, off-center humor, ferocious bass, stellar synth work, and the unrestrained joy the band always exhibited while playing.

Penned by Larry Blackmon and Gregory Johnson, “I Just Want to Be” was a single from the band’s fourth album, Secret Omen, released in 1979. The song was a big hit, reaching #3 on the U.S. R&B singles chart.

This is one of Cameo’s tightest grooves and the perfect track to put on when you need to get booties shakin’ ASAP at a party or club.  

Related blog entry: Review of Cameo’s Debut Album Cardiac Arrest

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Funkiest Bernie Worrell Moments on Wax

Keyboard maestro and P-Funk co-founder Bernie Worrell headed back home to the Mothership on June 24 after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 72.

Worrell’s imaginative keyboard work was an integral part of P-Funk’s unique sound. Through his wizardry on the keys, he infused a fantasy/sci-fi element into the legendary funk-rock-soul collective’s ever-expanding sonic palette.

And in addition to his tremendous contributions on keys, Worrell had a hand in the writing of many of P-Funk's best and most-recognized classics, including “Mothership Connection (Star Child),” “Flash Light,” “Cosmic Slop,” “P.Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up),” “Aqua Boogie,” “Red Hot Mama,” and “Do That Stuff.”

He was without a doubt one of P-Funk’s most invaluable architects. So in honor of the Wizard of Woo, I’ve made a list of a few of my favorite Bernie Worrell moments on wax. Here they go:

Flash Light [Parliament - Funkentelechy vs. The Placebo Syndrome, 1977]

Worrell's iconic Minimoog synth bass line drives this raucous, supremely funky dancefloor classic. His other synth work throughout track is also stellar.

"Let Me Be" [Parliament - Chocolate City, 1975]

Worrell's inspired keyboard work illuminates this sterling Parliament cut. You can hear his deep classical roots here.

"A Joyful Process" [Funkadelic, America Eat Its Young, 1972]

Worrell drops megadoses of clavinet-driven funk on this appropriately titled instrumental.

"Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop)" [Parliament - Motor Booty Affair, 1978]

The Woo master serves up another stupidly funky Minimoog bass line on this monster booty-shaker. And in addition to the bass line, Worrell elevates the track to its maximum funkatude with his amazing keyboard work and a slow-burn synth solo.

"Tales of Kidd Funkadelic (Opusdelite Years)" [Funkadelic - Tales of Kidd Funkadelic, 1976]

This desolate masterpiece showcases Worrell’s singular genius on the keys.

"Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk (Pay Attention - B3M)" [Parliament - Funkentelechy vs. The Placebo Syndrome, 1977]

Worrell brings some sci-fi flavor to the bizarre but exceedingly brilliant “Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk.”

"Smokey" [Funkadelic – Hardcore Jollies, 1976]

This superb Funkadelic cut features some low-end magic from Worrell on the moog synth bass. And he takes the funk up a notch with a badass solo on the melodica.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Prince, Legendary Music Phenom and Innovator, Dead At 57

Music icon Prince died on Thursday, April 21, less than a week after he was briefly hospitalized for the flu. The cause of his death has not yet been determined. He was 57.

Prince was one of the most multifaceted artists in pop-music history. The breadth of his talents seemed limitless. He could do it all—and do it all well. He was a talented singer, a gifted multi-instrumentalist (guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, etc.) and a consummate songwriter, arranger and producer. Probably not since Stevie Wonder had a music superstar had such a wide and varied skillset.

In addition to his many amazing accomplishments in the recording studio, the Purple One will also be remembered as one of the most electrifying performers to ever hit the stage. Onstage, he melded James Brown’s raw, explosive energy with Jimi Hendrix’s galvanic rock-star charisma. A Prince concert was by turns rowdy dance party, wild rock show and rousing church revival. He never let his audience down and always brought everything he had to the stage.

Additionally, Prince was a true music innovator. He cultivated his own unique sound and never deviated from his musical vision. He got over on his own terms without compromising his art or toning down the sometimes controversial themes in his songs.

His Royal Badness also smashed through the sometimes constrictive boundaries that come with the designation of R&B artist. The musician’s restless creativity couldn’t be contained within a single music genre. His sound was a potent mix of styles, which included funk, rock, soul, gospel, pop, jazz, rockabilly, R&B, new wave, synthpop and even some avant-garde. He was always pushing the envelope with his music and testing new ideas.

With landmark albums like Dirty Mind, 1999 and Purple Rain, Prince brought the Minneapolis sound to the masses. Its widespread influence can be heard in numerous music genres today.

And Prince was as daring thematically as he was sonically. He brazenly took on taboo sexual themes in his music as well as spiritual ones—sometimes in the same song.  His desire to unite spirituality and sexuality in song was one of the things that made him such an intriguing and provocative artist. He also tackled hot-button political and social issues on his records.

Prince’s gender-bending androgynous image—particularly throughout the 1980s and early ‘90s—was almost as controversial as some of the more ribald themes in his music.  In his early days, he’d wear women’s underwear onstage, thigh-high socks and high-heeled boots.

Whether he was doing it for the shock value or because he really wanted to dress that way, it took some serious guts to go onstage like that in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s in Minneapolis. In his later years, he toned down his flamboyant attire considerably, especially after he converted to the Jehovah’s Witness faith in 2001. However, his adventurous spirit in the studio never subsided. He continued to experiment and expand his sound to the end.

His Royal Badness was without question one of the most important artists of the last 30-plus years in modern music. His music has touched millions across the globe and influenced a generation of musicians and performers. Legions of young music artists cite Prince as being a major influence and inspiration.

The worldwide outpouring of love and endless tributes over the last few days show just how significant an artist Prince was and the tremendous impact he’s had on music and entertainment. On April 21, the world lost an incredible talent, who left behind an amazing musical legacy.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Earth, Wind & Fire’s Guiding Force Maurice White Dead at 74

Earth, Wind & Fire’s visionary co-founder and leader Maurice White moved up to the “upper room” on Thursday morning, Feb. 4, after a 25-year-long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 74. The multi-talented musician, producer, singer, bandleader and songwriter left behind an extraordinary musical legacy.

White founded Earth, Wind & Fire in 1969 in Chicago. At the time, he was already a seasoned musician with tons of studio work under his belt as a session drummer for Chess Records. With Chess, he played drums on songs by noted artists such as Fontella Bass, Etta James, the Impressions, Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy. He also spent three years as a member of the celebrated Ramsey Lewis Trio before forming Earth, Wind & Fire.

EWF were one of the most successful and critically acclaimed bands in the world during the mid-1970s and early ‘80s—lighting up the planet with their powerful amalgam of funk, pop, jazz, Latin, gospel, African, blues, rock and soul. The band scored numerous hits on both the R&B and pop charts worldwide, including “Shining Star,” September,” Serpentine Fire,” “Fantasy,” Boogie Wonderland,” and “Let’s Groove.”

The band earned more than 50 gold and platinum album certifications and has sold in excess of 90 million albums worldwide. And their music has garnered a slew of music awards, including six Grammys and four American Music Awards.

As EWF’s guiding force and spiritual light, White brought his multifaceted skillset to the mix. In addition to being a gifted percussionist and drummer, he was a talented vocalist, dynamic performer, mean Kalimba player and highly skilled songwriter, producer and arranger.  His sterling production skills were one of the key components that helped set EWF apart from other bands and artists.

Earth, Wind & Fire's music was filled with spiritual and mystical elements. Their songs often contained inspirational messages of finding inner peace, hope, strength and self-worth through positive thoughts and energy. They also celebrated multiculturalism, African culture and racial unity in song.

In addition to setting the world on fire with EWF, White was also noted for his production work for renowned artists such as the Emotions, Deniece Williams, Barbra Streisand, Weather Report, Cher and Neil Diamond.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Earth, Wind & Fire in 2000 and individually into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010.

Maurice White was a supernova in the music world, illuminating it with his immense talent, generous spirit and positive energy.

You're a shining star
No matter who you are
Shining bright to see
What you could truly be (what you could truly be)

EWF performing "Shining Star" live on The Midnight Special

"In Time" by EWF

Friday, January 1, 2016

P-Funk Performing “Dr. Funkenstein” Live in 1977

Interplanetary groove masters Parliament-Funkadelic delivered a galvanic, bone-rattling performance of their monster track “Dr. Funkenstein” during a stop on their historic P-Funk Earth Tour in 1977. Charismatic P-Funk overlord George Clinton immediately had the entire audience singing along and deep into the groove.

Axeman extraordinaire Michael “Kidd Funkadelic” Hampton brought the house down with a blazing, mind-blowing guitar solo, and horn legends Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley served up mammoth doses of funk with their dynamic horn interplay.

Additionally, Glen Goins and Garry “Starchild” Shider kept the funk on high with their immensely soulful vocals. And keyboard wizard Bernie Worrell transported the audience to another galaxy with his cosmic synth work.

P-Funk were the baddest funk outfit on the planet during this period, and fortunately some of their best live work at the time was captured on vinyl with the release of their double live album Live: P-Funk Earth Tour in May of 1977.

The album consists of portions of two live P-funk concerts from January 1977 at the Oakland Coliseum and the Los Angeles Forum. It contains terrific live performances of classic P-Funk tracks. The album effectively captured the charged and heady atmosphere of a P-Funk concert. It’s definitely a must-have for true funkateers, as well as funk lovers in general.

Live: P-Funk Earth Tour at Amazon