Friday, October 13, 2017

A brief history of Funk Music

In the second half of the 1960s funk became a recognised musical genre, spearheaded with acts like James Brown, Sly & The Family Stone, the Meters, and Dyke & The Blazers the music became a dance craze popular with audiences tired of guitar solos and boogie rhythms.

In technical terms Funk music consisted of syncopated polyrhythms set to ‘groovy’ bass lines, embellished by metallic guitar timbre and falsetto singing. George Clinton soon emerged as a major talent and featured in two key bands, Parliament (formerly The Parliaments) and Funkadelic.

The former used horns and were more commercial; whereas Funkadelic had greater emphasis on guitars and the sound was more experimental. The mix of psychedelic guitar (as in Jim Hendrix), jazzy horns, acid rock, symphonic/classical, vocal-group harmonies, and often scatological imagery was matched by lyrics that bordered on the surreal. George Clinton’s fusion became known as P-Funk and provided the most adventuresome music of the 70s. George went by several names including Dr. Funkenstein, the Maggot Overlord, or Uncle Jam. He was the leader of a group of musicians known as "The Mothership Connection," or "Parliafunkadelicment Thang," or "P-Funk All-Stars” who emerged with the new sounds from Detroit. The lineup of Funkaldelics included: Bernie Worrell (keyboards); Junie Morrison (keyboards and ex–Ohio Players), William ‘Bootsie’ Collins (slap bass and synthesizer and formerly with James Brown’s JB’s); Eddie Hazel (guitar); Gary Shider (guitar); Fred Wesley (reedman); and Maceo Parker (ex – James Brown).

Other US artists that made significant contribution to Funk were Isaac Hayes and The Hues Corporation who had a massive funky hit with Wally Holmes' Rock The Boat (1974). Pioneers from outside the States included Eddy Grant and the Equals from the UK who released Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys (1970) and Cameroon born Manu Dibango, a Paris-based jazz saxophonist had another hit with the jazz funk, Soul Makossa in 1972.

Italian-born, German keyboardist and producer Giorgio Moroder extended his repertoire as a producer by combining robotic music of Kraftwerk with soul/funk music. Working with dance diva Donna Summer, the single I Feel Love (1976) marked the birth of synth-pop. Another producer to realise the commercial potential of Funk was Frank Farian with Boney M and towards the end of the decade Rick James became a popular discofunck singer.

In 1980 Lipps Inc released Funkytown which transformed the genre into fully electronic funk music. Soon after the original P-Funk’s sound was absorbed into mainstream funk and hip-hop. Prince experimented with disco/dance, European/new romantic, new wave, folk, techno/electronic, Latin and world music, and hip-hop. The unique mixture that emerged was called New Funk.

Worth a listen:
George Clinton
Atomic Dog (1983).

(I Wanna) Testify (1967).
All Your Goodies Are Gone (1967)

Up for the Down Stroke (1974)
Tear the Roof Off the Sucker (1976)
Flash Light (1978)

Funkadelic's Funkadelic (1970)
Maggot Brain (1971)
One Nation Under A Groove (1978)
Parliament's Clones of Dr Funkenstein (1976)
Mothership Connection (1976)
Funkentelechy Vs The Placebo Syndrome (1977)
Motor-Booty Affair (1978)
Not Just Knee Deep,
Parliament P-Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up),
Hydraulic Pump - Part I
One of Those Summers
Sly and the Family Stone
Dance to the Music (1968)
Rick James
Super Freak (1981)

James Brown
Get up offa that thing (1976)

Cissy Strut

Rare Earth
I Just Want To Celebrate (1971)

Spill The Wine (1970)
The World Is A Ghetto (1972)

Kool And The Gang
Funky Stuff (1973)
Celebration (1980)

Lady Marmalade (1974)

The Commodores
Machine Gun (1974)

Earth Wind And Fire
Shining Star (1975)
Serpentine Fire (1977)

K.C. And The Sunshine Band
That's The Way I Like It (1975)
Baby Give It Up (1983)

Graham Central Station
The Jam (1976)

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