Archive for the ‘Funk’ Category

Tim Maia – Rational Culture (1974)

April 8, 2018 Leave a comment

Twenty one minutes into Tim Maia’s Racional LP, I was beginning to wonder whether my almost infallible “friend in New York” had recommended a rather expensive turkey for me to buy. However, 12 and a half minutes later, I had heard this stunning track and within an hour it had been elevated into the pantheon of thebestmusicofalltime.

Tim Maia is one the icons of Brazilian music and “Rational Culture” is a stone cold funk classic. That being said, there are hatters out there who might be a tad offended were anyone to liken Mr Maia to one of them.

According to Wikipedia, Tim was visiting a composing friend and came across a book Universo em Desencanto (Disenchanting Universe) which revolves around the cult of Rational Culture (me, neither). Anyway, in double quick time, Mr Maia converted to the cult, abandoned the drugs and red meat, and decided to write lyrics based on the knowledge contained in the book. RCA rejected the resulting albums.

Fortunately, Tim bought the masters and released two volumes of Racional.

I’d like to say a big thanks to Tim for his gumption and I know you are going to want to do the same.

What a record!


Gwen Guthrie – Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On But The Rent (1986)

May 29, 2016 Leave a comment

As a professional economist, I have always been a huge admirer of Gary Becker who won a Nobel Prize for his pioneering work on the economics of discrimination and the economics of the family. The application of the neo-classical utility maximising framework to inform our understanding of the inter-relationships between decisions regarding marriage and partnerships, fertility and labour supply opened the eyes of many people to the potential explanatory power of economics.

Now, of course, we all know that real human beings are not fully informed, rational beings, carefully weighing up the short, medium and long term consequences of their choices on their own utility (“desiccated calculating machines” as Nye Bevan might have described them).  Nonetheless, Becker’s insights have added rigour to the way in which we try and understand the choices that people make.

In my own life, the decision of my (now) wife and I to finally get married after 31 years of (trial) cohabitation was significantly driven by the need to make sure that she fully inherited my pension …. (who said romance is dead?)

 This same, hard, cold, logic also underpins the lyric of this soul/funk/house classic from 1986. Using a ruthless logic that would have had Gary Becker “welling up”, Gwen Guthrie sets out the case for his Treatise on the Family in just 6 minutes ….  A few snippets:

No romance without finance

Boy, nothin’ in life is free
That’s why I’m askin’ you what can you do for me
I’ve got responsibilities
So I’m lookin’ for a man whose got money in his hands

‘Cause nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
You got to have somethin’ if you wanna be with me
Oh, life is too serious, love’s too mysterious
A fly girl like me needs security

‘Cause ain’t nothin’ goin’ on but the rent
You got to have a J-O-B if you wanna be with me

Boy, you’re silky ways are sweet
But you’re only wastin’ time if your pockets are empty
I’ve got lots of love to give
But I will have to avoid you if you’re unemployed

The 12″ club mix for your delectation ….

Billy Cobham – Stratus (1973)

May 24, 2016 Leave a comment

There is a great deal of enjoyment to be taken from spotting the original from which a recent (ish!) record has been sampled or developed. For all who enjoy such pleasures, I submit to you the inspiration behind Massive Attack’s seminal “Safe From Harm” – the opening track  from their unimpeachable Blue Lines LP of 1991.

Billy Cobham had recorded with Miles Davis and the Mahavishnu Orchestra before finding time to record his first solo LP, Spectrum in 1973. This is blistering, ahem, jazz-funk – a perfect example of how every genre can deliver the goods when it wants to.

This version strips away the 3 minutes of noodling that precedes the river of bass kicking in …  the full version and the whole Spectrum LP are worth a listen!












Herbie Hancock – The Twilight Clone (1981)

May 22, 2016 1 comment

For Christmas, I bought myself Herbie Hancock’s “The Complete Columbia Album Collection 1972-1988” boxset. Over the last few weeks, I have been working my way through the 34 CDs and stumbling upon many gems in many genres that I hadn’t heard before.

I reached Herbie’s “Magic Windows” LP today which was originally released in 1981. The final track on the album turns out to be a stone cold funk masterpiece which immediately warrants escalation to thebestmusicofalltime!

My immediate thought was that it sounded like a missing track from Talking Heads’ all time classic LP “Remain in Light” – a bit of digging on Discogs reveals the link .. Adrian Belew played guitar on the Talking Heads LP and on this track on the Herbie Hancock album! Most famous for fronting King Crimson, Belew has been involved in countless other collaborations including playing on David Bowie’s “Lodger” and Paul Simon’s “Graceland”.

A perfect record.


João Donato – Cala Boca Menino (1973)

January 10, 2016 Leave a comment

Trawling through the three volumes of the excellent “Blue Juice” compilations released in the mid 1990s, I stumbled upon this stone cold classic!

João Donato is a Brazilian jazz and bossa nova pianist who has released numerous LPs over the years since 1956. This track is taken from his 1973 album Quem é quem.

A beautifully understated funk groove is gradually supplemented by horns and then a rather baffling call and response set of vocals to reveal the perfect organic whole. The only flaw? It’s only two and a half minutes long! Just put it on repeat!

Doug Hream Blunt – Ride The Tiger (1980s)

January 9, 2016 Leave a comment

Over the festive period, I try and catch up on all the music I might have missed over the previous 12 months. This involves forensic scrutiny of all the “best of” lists from magazines, websites, newspapers, etc. Spotify is then used to sort out the wheat from the chaff before I engage on a major CD purchasing spree – I still have to own a physical object to get full satisfaction; just knowing I could always stream a song from the cloud is never enough ….

Amongst this year’s uncovered gems is the superb “My Name is Doug Hream Blunt” CD released in 2015 on the ever wonderful Luaka Bop Records. The CD reproduces Blunt’s “Gentle Persuasion” LP/EP that was released sometime in the mid 1980s – I’ve struggled to pin down the exact date!

I could have chosen almost any of the tracks but “Ride The Tiger” is my favourite today and, therefore, is elevated immediately to the pantheon of the bestmusicofalltime. The full LP version doesn’t seem to be around on Youtube but this live version does nicely!

Curtis Mayfield – Move On Up (1970)

May 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Like many people, I suspect, my first experience of “Move on Up” was via Paul Weller and The Jam on the B-Side of their final single “Beat Surrender” in 1982. That is a great version but the original still stands tall as the best.

An album track from Curtis Mayfield’s debut solo LP, the song was never released as a single in the USA and only a cut down version was ever released in the UK. During the 1960s, Curtis had released a string of great records with the Impressions but none of these earlier releases were on a par with the tracks from the 1970s.

Curtis probably peaked in 1972 with “Pusherman” (see here) from the Super Fly soundtrack but “Move on Up” remains an all time classic of funk/dance.

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