“Booger the hooker, he’s in the palm of the pusherman!”
Black Nasty were a Detroit-based hard funk group who sprang from the same lysergic R&B scene as George Clinton’s Parliament/Funkadelic. The group was a family affair: lead singers Audrey and Terrance Ellis were married, and her brother, drummer Artwell Matthews, Jr. was the musical leader of the group. Their mother, Johnnie Mae Matthews, the first black woman to own a record label, was their manager.
Black Nasty were signed to Stax Records who released their one and only platter, Talking to the People in 1973. The album sank like a stone, but was later rediscovered and is considered a minor classic by funk aficionados.
The standout track,“Booger the Hooker,” is not about a prostitute, as might be expected, but is instead the story of a good kid gone bad on THE DOPE. Young Booger’s “smokin’ marijuana, poppin’ pills and snortin’ cocaine” and soon develops himself a “habit of a 100 dollars a day.”
And why the hell not? Here are some classic clips from Soul Train that are guaranteed to make you feel good, and maybe even get up and shake your ass!
You know, with all the Seventies-related posts here on DM, it’s good to remember that the decade was not all about white boys with guitars (though some of the clips below are from the early 80s too). These dancers are hot as hell - without resorting to showing acres of flesh - and isn’t it nice to see people actually interacting with each other when they dance?
Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes “Bad Luck”
After the jump, Kool & The Gang, Rufus & Chaka Khan, Marvin Gaye, Trussell and Yellow Magic Orchestra…
Sweeeet - In preparation for his upcoming US tour, king of the boogie Dam Funk has made his forthcoming InnaFocusedDaze EP available as a free download. The 10” vinyl of InnaFocusedDaze will be released through Scion A/V in October, when Dam goes out on the road with his band Master Blazter - tour dates and more info on the EP can be found on the Stone’s Throw website. You can download the EP here, and just in case you need to be reminded of just how cool this cat is (he really IS king of the boogie) here’s a video for the EP’s lead track “Forever”:
It’s a Saturday night and I’m feelin’ alright… and this excellent dj mix is just too damn good not to share!
“Boogie” is an often overlooked subset of disco and funk. It peaked in the early 80s when many of the acts from the disco era looked for a new dancefloor style, swapped their guitars for synthesizers and modified their syncopation to suit the popular roller disco phenomenon. Though relatively short lived and with no major artists representing the style in the mainstream (outside of funk-pop acts like Cameo or the more P-Funk-y Zapp) it managed to be hugely influential. It reared its head again for a while in the 90s when many of the original records found themselves being sampled in hip-hop and in particular g-funk, courtesy of producers like Dr Dre. It’s a very West Coast sound, and when it comes down to it nobody knows boogie quite like Dam Funk.
Dam Funk - “Hood Pass Intact”
This native Los Angelino’s name should be familiar to music cognoscenti, as he has released a string of records to much critical acclaim on San Francisco’s Stones Throw label, including the mammoth 2009 5-LP set Toeachizown. A man with a strong fetish for original FM and analog synths, his sound is definitely heavily influenced by early 80s funk and disco and 90s hip-hop, while maintaining a singular sound and atmosphere.
But Dam Funk is not just a talented producer, he is also an excellent DJ, as this awesome set proves. Although he hosts a weekly funk shindig in Los Angeles called Funkmosphere, this recording is taken from the first birthday party of the London night Deviation, and uploaded to Soundcloud by the BBC Radio 1 DJ Benji B. Dam is what is known as a “personality DJ” who is not afraid to get on the mic, give shout outs to the audience, and tell us the names of the tunes he is playing. And damn are those tunes hot - I just keep playing this mix over and over, it’s that good.. You can find more info on Dam Funk (including tour dates, merch and downloads) on the Stones Throw website. But for now just hit play, blaze, boogie and have a great Saturday night:
Thanks to Kelvin Brown for the link.
The original video for Dam Funk’s DJ staple “Dangerzone” by Midnight Express (whose dancing zombies theme possibly pre-dates “Thriller”):
Seminal post-punk disco-afro-funk act Pigbag have reformed for a special one-off gig on Saturday at London’s Jazz Café. Best known for their smash hit “Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag”, the band were signed to the seminal Y Records in the 80s, and had other minor hits with “Dr Heckle and Mr Jive” and “Sunny Day”. From the press release:
The new line-up features original members Chris Lee on trumpet (who’s also played with the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl), Ollie Moore on saxes (Neneh Cherry, The Abyssinians) and drummer Kofi Adu (Osibisa, Mulato Astatke). New converts are the renowned jazz trombonist Annie Whitehead (Dr John), bassist Mark Jay Smith (Hardware, Infinite Wheel) Jessica Lauren on keys (Tom Browne, Juliet Roberts), percussionist Godwin Awala (Kush, Nana Tsiboe) and guitarist Ed Riches (Omar). This talented new line-up has been writing fresh material that fuses joyful African sounds and charged funk beats with punchy hooklines and surreal arrangements.
Perhaps a bit overlooked in the annals of punk-funk (not as cool as Public Image or the Specials, sampled by some dodgy acts) they were excellent and had a very distinctive horn-and-percussion-driven sound and atmosphere. “Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag” still retains its power to pack a dance floor and inspire a wordless singalong almost 30 years later. Here’s the band performing their signature tune on Top Of The Pops at the dawn of 1983:
So what is “skweee”? Skweee is a musical genre that originated in Scandinavia based around the production styles of producers like Randy Barracuda, Daniel Savio and Eero Johannes. It’s purely electronic, synth based, with its roots in modern hip-hop and the 80’s electro-funk likes of Rick James and Cybotron.
The easiest to describe this music would be to start by asking you to imagine a current hip-hop or crunk beat. Now, instead of the sparse synth flourishes favored by a producer like Timbaland, imagine instead that every small space of sound around those beats is filled with jabs, pops, blips, blops, chords and squelches. According to the Wikipedia page (which is accurate for once!):
The name Skweee was coined by Daniel Savio, one of the originators of the emerging sound. The name refers to the use of vintage synthesizers in the production process, where the aim is to “squeeze out” the most interesting sounds possible.
The main labels releasing skweee (mostly on the 7 or 12 inch vinyl format) are Norway’s dodpop, Sweden’s Flogsta Danshall, and Finland’s Harmonia. Ben Butler, the subject of yesterday’s post, has put together a mix of vinyl-only skweee releases which features music by Eero Johannes, Mesak, Limonious, Beem & Joxaren and more. The full tracklisting is here.
For more info, the website Skweeelicious is a good place to start, as is the International Skweee Volume Two compilation on Harmonia. There is also a documentary about the genre titled We Call It Skweee (“A film about music, people and Scandinavia” by Iacopo Patierno and David Giese) which features interviews with all the main players on the scene. For more info, or to buy a copy, visit the film’s website. Here’s the trailer:
After the jump, videos from Daniel Savio, Randy Barracuda, Mesak and Eero Johannes…
Imagine Bernie Worrell jammin’ on a Gameboy, and you’re kind of close to the unique sound of Ben Butler & Mouse Pad. Taking cues from chip-tune, jazz-funk, video games, electro (old and new), 80’s soundtracks, progressive rock and years of formal piano lessons, it references lots of music from the past but sounds like it only could have come from the present.
Ben Butler & Mouse Pad is essentially the work of one man, Joe Howe. Having previously produced an album for the Scottish indie guru Momus (Joemus) and been a part of the Glasgow-based art-spazz electro/trash duo Gay Against You, BB&MP sees Joe focusing on the music he loves the most. Heavily influenced by the Scandinavian Skwee scene, and filtered through his uber lo-fi set up of two tiny keyboards and a laptop, it’s synthy, it’s dirty and it’s ridiculously funky to boot. This guy is like a Herbie Hancock for the Scott Pilgrim generation.
So I should get the nepotism aspect out of the way - I sang the vocal on Ben Butler & Mouse Pad’s debut single “Infinite Capacity (For Love)”, which was released on LOAF in the UK and online in November of last year. But I really don’t care - I would write about Ben Butler even if he hated my guts, as he and his music are the absolute shit. Other vocalists on the upcoming debut album include the main man again, Momus and San Fransiscan rapper Hawnay Troof. You can listen to “Infinite Capacity (For Love)”, with remixes form Dam Mantle, Fulgeance and Dolby Anol, over on Niallism. In the meantime, here’s a video for ‘Supermotion’ made by Charlotte Carden and Gavin Laing:
Ben Butler & Mouse Pad are currently touring the States as support act for the equally awesome Deerhoof. If you get a chance to check out one of these shows, then do. A full list of tour dates are here.
Infinite Capacity (For Love) EP is available now to download via Amazon.co.uk.
There are more releases for sale or just listening on the BB&MP Bandcamp, including the recently released Worm EP, recorded at Worm/CEM Studios, Rotterdam, June 2010 on all analog gear.
The Godfather of Go-Go Chuck Brown, with his Soul Searchers
Background information on David N. Rubin’s 1990 documentary Go-Go Swing is pretty hard to come by. But that hardly takes away from how deep a snapshot it is of the highly regional Washington D.C. brand of funk called go-go.
Developed first by jazz guitarist and singer Chuck Brown (whose group the Soul Searchers were at the top of D.C.’s scene), go-go is characterized by its laidback but dynamic funk rhythms accented with heavy conga beats, freaky keyboards, blasting horns and call-and response vocals. And its been a staple of the mid-Atlantic scene for the past 35 years.
Go-go reached a crest during the 1980s, as bands like Trouble Funk, E.U., Rare Essence, Redds and the Boys, Hot Cold Sweat, the Junk Yard Band and others got signed and discarded by various majors and independents. E.U.’s performance of “Da Butt” on Spike Lee’s School Daze was a coup as far as national exposure for the music.
Rubin’s doc goes deep into the context of the go-go scene, dealing with the trials, tribulations, mournings and celebrations that are all part of living in D.C. Check out the whole thing—it’s really worth it.
The always-smiling rhythm guitarist started a band called the Pacemakers in 1968 and were soon scouted and picked up by James Brown to back him up. The brothers would record such classics as “Super Bad,” “Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine,” “Soul Power,” and “Give It Up or Turnit a Loose” before it became too much to deal with the Godfather. Then it was on to a wonderful decade with Parliament-Funkadelic and Bootsy’s Rubber Band, lacing masterpieces like “Flashlight” with his brightly sparking chikka-chikka. Phelps spent most of the past 20 years away from music, surfacing occasionally to play with groups like Deeee-lite and on soundtracks like Superbad.
He got some here at the famous L’Olympia with the JB’s in 1971, just before he and Bootsy said bye-bye to the Hardest Working Man…
After the jump: the bad-ass sounds of Phelps and Bootsy in ‘71 in between their tenures with the JBs and Parliament-Funkadelic!!
Today’s resurgence in black rock and Afro-punk has been accompanied by a boosted interest in obscure post-Hendrix black rock from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, as shown by the rediscovery of Detroit bands like Death and Black Merda.
Elsewhere in the heartland, Cleveland’s late-‘60s soul and R&B scene (a role-call of which can be found in this bio for the Imperial Wonders) also boasted a clutch of guitar-centered rock bands, including the excellently named Purple Image. Rising from the 105th St. & Superior area (which took a big hit during the unrest resulting from the 1968 Granville Shootout), PI traded on a thumping, harder-than-Parliament psychedelic sound fortified by powerful group vocals and the two-guitar attack of Ken Roberts and Frank Smith. Unfortunately Purple Image’s excellent self-titled 1970 debut would be their one and only, becoming a rare black-rock nugget before it was re-released by the UK’s Radioactive label in 2007.
It would take another Midwestern black rocker to pick up the
As a teen in the late ‘60s, Shider first linked up with the visionary funkateer George Clinton at a barber shop in his native Plainfield, NJ where Clinton rehearsed his doo-wop group the Parliaments. He joined Clinton’s guitar section in 1971 and ended up writing and performing on some of Parliament Funkadelic’s classics, including “One Nation Under a Groove” and “Cosmic Slop.” Unlike many of his peers, Shider was able to smoothly navigate his bluesy, psychedelic style over the insistent thump of most of the Funkadelic repertoire.
He’s also the guitarist who’s stuck with Funkadelic’s exhausting touring schedule the longest.
Let us remember him in his 20-year-old glory here in a promo for his best-known composition (on which he sang lead), dressed in trademark diaper and Roman centurion-style cape with feathered shoulder shells.
The man who helped usher black pop music into the future turned 52 years old today. With rumor of a new album entitled Androgynine due for release this month, it’s a fitting occasion to harvest his Wikipedia entry for some of the odd and maddening details of his life:
• Prince was named after his [pianist] father, whose stage name was Prince Rogers, and who performed with a jazz group called the Prince Rogers Trio. In a 1991 interview with A Current Affair, Prince’s father said, “I named my son Prince because I wanted him to do everything I wanted to do.”
• Prince’s childhood nickname was Skipper.
• In a PBS interview Prince told Tavis Smiley that he was “born epileptic” and “used to have seizures” when he was young. During the interview Prince also said that “my mother told me one day I walked in to her and said, ‘Mom, I’m not going to be sick anymore,’ and she said ‘Why?’ and I said ‘Because an angel told me so.’ “
• After Tipper Gore heard her 12-year-old daughter Karenna listening to Prince’s song “Darling Nikki”, she founded the Parents Music Resource Center…[which] advocated the mandatory use of a warning label (“Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics”) on the covers of records that have been judged to contain language or lyrical content unsuitable for minors.
• Prince was set to release [The Black Album] with a complete monochromatic black cover with only the catalog number printed, but at the last minute, even though 500,000 copies had been pressed, Prince had a spiritual epiphany that the album was evil and had it recalled, although it would later be released by Warner Bros. as a limited edition album in 1994.
• Prince became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2001 following a two-year-long debate with friend and fellow Jehovah’s Witness, musician Larry Graham. Prince said he didn’t consider it a conversion, but a “realization”; “It’s like Morpheus and Neo in The Matrix”, he explained. He attends meetings at a local Kingdom Hall and occasionally knocks on people’s doors to discuss his new faith. Prince has reportedly needed double-hip-replacement surgery since 2005 but won’t undergo the operation unless it is a bloodless surgery because Jehovah’s Witnesses do not accept blood transfusions.
• At the 2008 Coachella Music Festival, Prince performed a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep”, but immediately after he forced YouTube and other sites to remove footage that fans had taken of the performance, despite Radiohead’s demand for it to remain on the website. Days later, YouTube reinstated the videos, while Radiohead claimed “it’s our song, let people hear it.” In 2009, Prince put the video of that Coachella performance on his website LotusFlow3r.com.
Here’s the man himself talking chemtrails, prophesy, and various other nonsequitors: