So imagine this; you are one of, let’s say, nine-thousand or so fans who came to see Black Sabbath at the International Amphitheater on November 25th, 1976 in Chicago. Perhaps like some die-hard Sabbath fans, you weren’t super-jazzed with the band’s seventh album Technical Ecstasy, but like any devout headbanger, you go to the show because Black Sabbath still fucking rules. What you are not expecting is a mind-blowing performance by Sabbath’s opening act, funk ‘n’ roll outfit, Mother’s Finest. In fact, they gave the boys from Birmingham a run for their money and then some, by way of platform boots, raging guitar riffs and soul-soaked rhythms on par with Sly & the Family Stone. Hot damn.
Mother’s Finest had just released a self-titled album on Epic containing the single “Niggizz Can’t Sang Rock & Roll,” which the band had reworked from a single they recorded in 1972, “It’s What You Do With What You Got.” The album did well enough to get them the same bill as huge international acts like Sabbath, AC/DC and The Who, with performances so powerful they rivaled the headliners—earning them the title of “most dangerous opening band in rock.” The band’s second album, Another Mother Further featured a more amped-up rock sound which included lifted licks from none other than the king of riffs himself, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. Page’s guitar work on 1975’s “Custard Pie” was distinctly replicated by Mother’s Finest guitarist Gary Moore (not to be confused with Irish guitar god Gary Moore), on the band’s cover of The Miracles’ 1963 song, “Mickey’s Monkey.” Rock historians have often pondered why Zeppelin never sued the band for siphoning Page’s unmistakeable jams, though this also reminds one of Zeppelin’s long track record when it comes to ripping-off their musical predecessors.
At this point, I’d like to jaw a bit about Mother’s Finest’s vocalist, Joyce Kennedy—the funky fireball still fronting the act to this day. While she was in elementary school, Kennedy and her mother moved to the musical hotbed of Chicago in 1955. Chicago record label Chess was a huge champion of musicians like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Willie Dixon. Chess’ success during the 50s and 60s would help pave the way for future superstars from the city like Curtis Mayfield, Chicago, and Rufus and Chaka Khan (who Kennedy would be compared to during her own career). So it should be no surprise that the young Kennedy started singing shortly after her arrival and even had a couple of minor local hits in her teens. After meeting another local vocalist, Glenn Murdock, the pair would start performing as a duo on stage and in real life after getting married. In 1975, Mother’s Finest was born and their timing could not have been better as they were surrounded by other stereotype-smashing diverse groups like War, and Brooklyn funk-rockers Mandrill.
Here comes the Super Brother—James Brown hitting the spot and getting mystical about education (“The only way you can live is to know. And to not to know, you can never live”) on Soul Train in 1973. He gives a slower, funkier version of “Sex Machine” (listen to that guitar) and impressive versions of “Try Me,” “Get On The Good Foot,” “Soul Power” and the excellent “Escapism.”
Boogie Mosson in some awesome ‘Motor Booty Affair’ garb
Thanks to commenter Daniel Kalmann for alerting me to this sad news last week via Facebook. On April 18th, Cordell ‘Boogie’ Mosson, bassist and integral player in the Parliafunkadelicment Thang, funked off this mortal coil and ascended to that Mothership in the sky.
Mosson was originally introduced to Parilament-Funkadelic by way of the band Untied Soul, who were signed to Detroit label Westbound in the early 70s, and ended up being produced by George Clinton. Clinton poached both Mosson and Gary “Daiperman” Shider from United Soul, and even re-recorded some of United Soul’s tracks on later Funkadelic albums. Bootsy wasn’t the only bass whizz in the band(s), from the mid-70s it was Mosson who became Bootsy’s permanent replacement. That’s another very important tentacle of the funktapus now gone.
CORDELL “BOOGIE” MOSSON, the ultimate FUNK theologian, one of P-FUNK’s most pivotal and vital musicians (bass, guitar, drums and vocals), Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, and one of my teachers, has passed away today. We lost more information, lessons, and vast rare funk knowledge today, then most learn in a lifetime. Much like the last of the samurai, the end of the era of the pyramid builders, and the passing of an age, vast sums of knowledge are now lost. For those few of us to have studied under him (Boog’s tenure with P-funk starts in 1971, and his Plainfield NJ roots go back much further, giving him preponderance in the P-Funk histories), we must go on with the knowledge we have been imparted by Boog’s far seeing vision of funk theory. Boog’s knowledge and understanding of Rhythm, the ONE, the Pocket, and the FEEL of P-FUNK, was UNMATCHED. We in Parliament-Funkadelic, wish to send our prayers to Boog’s family, and with extreme sadness, we say our worldly goodbye to our brother, our uncle, our friend, our teacher, our valued, trusted, master of musical expression: CORDELL “BOOGIE” MOSSON (October 16th, 1952 – April 18th, 2013)
Funk in Peace brother!
Cordell “Boogie” Mosson on Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Hazel and Michael Hampton (2004):
I feel like I have been waiting my whole life for someone to make a mix of the best Desi Disco tracks from 70s/80s Bollywood movies, and finally it has arrived!
Well, perhaps not my whole life, more like the last 5 or 6 years, or certainly ever since discovering the wonderful work of Bappi Lahiri via MIA’s cover of his classic “Jimmy Jimmy Aaja” in 2007. A few years ago I put together a YouTube playlist of some of my favourite Bollywood disco clip, which you can check out here, though unfortunately a lot of those clips have since been removed.
Not “Jimmy Jimmy Aaja”, though, which has since become a staple of my dj sets, and which I am going to post here now for no other reason than it’s awesome, and to say that if you haven’t seen it, then you need to:
Bappi Lahiri & Parvati Khan “Jimmy Jimmy Aaja Aaja”
As some of the YouTube commenters have pointed out, this track bears more than just a passing resemblance to Ottawan’s “T’es OK” (Bappi Lahiri was well known for his liberal “interpretations” of other people’s music) but I’m willing to overlook that as this version is just so much better.
Bollywood can at times seem pretty impenetrable for Western audiences, but it operates at such a high level of over the top camp that i’s pretty irresistable for lovers of kitsch. I’m still a bit mystified as to why Bollywood isn’t more celebrated within the gay community, but hopefully as the internet gives access to more and more of these films and their soundtracks, the audience will grow.
So praise be to Glasgow dj Hushpuppy then, for putting together an hour of his favourite Bollywood disco/soundtrack moments for all of our ears. Rest assured there’s plenty of Bappi Lahiri on this mix (full tracklisting available here.) This mix is not definitive (which would be impossible, I think) and represents only the very tip of the Bollywood disco-funk iceberg, so I expect to see more djs busting out the Desi Disco in the near future. For now, let’s dig those New Delhi Disco Chicks:
More daytime TV courtroom drama featuring rock stars!
The perfect follow up to the Judge Judy clip featuring John Lydon I posted earlier this week, this time it’s the turn of the super freak himself, Mr Rick James, to stand in the dock, on the show Judge Joe Brown.
James is there to sue the pants off guitarist Jeronne Turner, to whom he lent a guitar and amp which subsequently got stolen from Turner’s car. That’s some cold blooded shit right there, Rick!
(In case you’re not familiar with “Cold Blooded”, James’ excellent slice of minimal electrofunk from 1983, you can hear it here. Apparently the song was inspired by James’ relationship with Linda Blair.)
Perhaps not as cold blooded as James claiming that Turner, who apparently has “a little sugar in his tank” (though he has no problem with homosexuals he is at pains to stress) groped James’ butt for a period of 40 or so seconds when they were hanging out in Club Hollywood. James is still happy to let Turner call him “Rick” just as long as he pays him. He even admits at the end, in fact, that if he WAS gay, he’d marry Turner!
As ever, Rick James is highly entertaining. If you crave more courtroom action, there’s some more videos of rockers in the dock on this excellent post on the Yuppie Punk blog. It’s fairly old now, so some of the clips have been taken down, but I’m sure if you hunt around you can find them.
Thankfully, this one still exists in its entirety:
Note: I can’t find a date for this clip - anyone have any ideas? The show first aired in 1998 and James died in 2004, so there’s the ball park.
“Blessed are they who strive in the way of peace, for they shall be called Children of the Father.”
― Norman “Saleem” Hylton (via Matthew 5:9)
This is a guest post by Washington D.C. music historian Logan K. Young
In June of 1981, Dischord Records released catalog number 003―the Minor Threat EP. Its eight songs, including track four’s “Straight Edge” clarion, lasted a total of eight minutes.
Talk about economy.
Some thirty years later, and for a lot of Washington, D.C. insiders even, that’s all the District hath wrote. It’s almost fitting: Nothing ever gets done on Capitol Hill; why would it be any different inside the Dischord House? You could make a case, I suppose, for the plethora of post-hardcore memes like The Dismemberment Plan that followed in Fugazi’s wake. But The D-Plan’s leader, the doe-eyed doyen Travis Morrison, works for HuffPo now. As for Ian MacKaye, he’s taken to playing silly love songs with his wife-cum-drummer, Amy.
Regardless, Washington harDCore always seemed a tad too emo for me.
What, then, to make of a group like Father’s Children? They weren’t go-go, and they sure as heckfire weren’t straight-edge punks.
No, they were something different entirely.
Re-listening now, it’s kind of eerie just how different they were. Of course, were it not for soul-saving historians like Kevin Coombe (a.k.a. DJ Nitekrawler), we might never have known. Moreover, if not for a highest-fidelity reissue from the archival saints at Chicago’s Numero Group, Father’s Children would be as altogether lost as John Boehner’s Congress.
1972 was an eternity ago, really, and plenty of great records have been buried by the legislation of time―especially in the District of Columbia, where ignorance has its own blissful lobby. If you know Father’s Children at all it’s probably for their compromises made elsewhere later in the decade. (Or, to borrow a term from the HxC kids, their ‘sell-out’ stuff.)
Here’s a quick refresher: After years of both member and manager turnover, the funky, Islam-ified ensemble finally signed to Mercury Records and manifested west for a gold grab with The Crusaders’ Wayne Henderson behind the console. These gilded sessions would end up bearing the s/t decalogue, Father’s Children. Watered-down by Tinsel Town, that album’s torpid single, “Hollywood Dreaming” b/w “Shine On,” ultimately failed to chart in July of ‘79.
Another reminder: Things only got worse. Mercury soon relinquished rights, forcing the roughshod soul-Futuros to slouch it on back to Norman Hylton’s People’s Center in rough-hewn Adams Morgan. Abandoned and old enough, Father’s Children eventually divorced.
It was time to take sides. Whereas disco got custody of the America’s capital, Dischord would soon overtake her capitol city.
It wasn’t always like that, though. The would-be Children were birthed as a doo-wop/skiffle outfit called The Dreams at Western High School (now Duke Ellington School of the Arts) in the late ‘60s. And everything was jive.
Well, almost. After a Volkswagen accident outside Petersburg, Virginia killed their gear but left every Dream alive, the boys fell prostrate before Allah and rechristened themselves accordingly: Ted “Skeet” Carpenter became “Hakim,” Billy Sumler choose “Qaddir,” Nick Smith became “Nizam,” Michael Rogers assumed “Malik,” Steve Woods went with “Wali,” and Zachary Long was called “Sadik.” Norman “Saleem” Hylton had convinced the boys that they weren’t meant to die on I-95 that night.
The Dreams now deferred to a celestial Father. But once again, all was seemingly jive. And on stage anyways, Father’s Children grew up quickly. The kids would play jook joints (Ed Murphy’s Supper Club, The Other Barn, Motherlode Wild Cherry) and ivory towers alike (Howard University, American University, University of the District of Columbia). Like any father figure should, Hylton taught the Children not to discriminate; a gig was a gig. Sooner than later, he promised, life on the Beltway would pay off at home.
Writing in the liners for this reissue, Numero’s Rob Sevier and Ken Shipley tell the truth thusly:
“In fall 1972, Saleem was introduced to local studio magnate Robert Hosea Williams, who owned and managed a small network of Beltway studios. Jules Damian at D.B. Sound Studios had recently brought Williams in as a partner to right the debt-heavy ship. He wouldn’t disappoint. Williams had built his rep behind the boards at Edgewood Studios on 1539 K Street and by freelancing at Track Studios in Silver Spring, Maryland. His engineering experience included work for Gil Scott-Heron, Hugh Masekela, the Soul Searches and Van McCoy, but he always managed to find time on his schedule for locals.”
For Father’s Children, their time was September ‘72, just a few weeks after this fateful meeting. Stationed at D.B. Sound, the seven-piece ensemble ran down a voodoo equal parts lament for D.C.’s earlier race riots and their newfangled, moon-unit take on Islam. Again, it’s near scary just how good they were.
But there was a problem.
As so often happens, the Children never got the master tapes because Fly Enterprises―the fly-by-night hucksters these callow kids from Meridian Park hired to replace Saleem Hylton―didn’t pay the time tab. (Were Hylton still at the helm, it’s hard to imagine such a scenario.) Regardless, those originals sat collecting dust on producer Robert H. Williams’ shelf until 2006, when Coombe griped them tight, and with Numero’s blessing proper, raised them from perdition.
Four more years still, their combined ransom has proved more than bountiful. Hence, we finally have thee definitive question come unto the Children―Who’s Gonna Save The World[?].
But in northwest D.C., especially in the early ‘70s, that question was hardly rhetorical. In fact, it was downright dangerous. As per Sly Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On, the most convincing lines, the most insatiable rhythms here are the ones that play the most urgent. And as far as shared sentiments, anyways, this could easily be 2012.
Lead-off cut “Everybody’s Got a Problem,” written and wrought by Nizam Smith, looks not at Richard Nixon’s White House, but instead the silent majority Tricky Dick had resigned to either side of Pennsylvania Avenue: “Oh man, you talking about the Watergate, man? Man, I’m so broke, I can’t even pay attention.” Given a GOP CEO, it rarely pays to be poor.
“Dirt and Grime” is a skeletal study, almost menacing by comparison. In a strained but palpable tenor, Smith dutifully rebukes his own Adams Morgan. “My dirty, filthy habitat is where I got my habit at,” he admits. Apropos, Wali Woods’ high-pass guitar adds some extra-brittle filth atop. It’s a fragile, yet classic case of nature versus nurture. Smith’s ‘AdMo’ neighborhood, now, has surely been swagger-jacked, but on the right Saturday night, it might be alright for fighting. Still.
Meanwhile, “Linda”―the lone, legit love song of the lot―succeeds in spite of Robert Williams’ 101 Strings schmaltz. It’s actually a quite beautiful tune. Re-recorded as a later one-off for D.C. Valentine’s D.C. boutique Arrest, the original suburban reading sparkles still. After all, sometimes the new isn’t also the improved.
In retrospect, Father’s Children’s Islam never was as hard-lined as Elijah Muhammad’s Nation. Thus, their own eschatology was hardly dogma ‘n’ brimstone. Perhaps it’s because the Children were so young a band. Take side two’s opener “Kohoutec,” for instance. Kohoutek, the doomsday comet 150,000 years late even in late ‘72, had been anticipated in song by everyone from Sun Ra to Kraftwerk to Journey. Swaddled in warm, Red Line reverb here, the Children aren’t so much waiting idly for some cosmic Godot as they are bustin’ loose during His interregnum. But just like that, it’s glorious noise of wind, brass and percussion comes to a psychedelic halt; it seems their “Kohoutec” was our Hale-Bopp.
Undeterred, the shimmering harmonies of “In Shallah” follows. Arabic for “god willing,” it’s the weakest link only because it’s unfettered optimism sounds a bit like the airport Krishna’s proselytizings. That said, it’s not a bad-meaning-bad song.
Clocking in at just under eight minutes, “Father’s Children” is probably the best, most representative Father’s Children track recollected. Tempo-wise, it’s got to be their fastest as well. Kicking off with the Biblical boilerplate atop, it simultaneously anticipates and obliterates the coming go-go sound. Not bad, indeed. Here, the Children dial down the Arabic rhetoric and summon forth a pure groove clinic. Nearly every member of the flock gets a featured workout, with Wood’s deft wah-wah leading the charge of his brigade’s light. It’s a true joy, a genuine blessing to behold.
Were “Father’s Children” made available on wax in 1972, even as a single, methinks the entirety of hip-hop and rap would have sounded a lot different. Yes, the breaks simply are that infectious, the beats just too obvious not to sample. I’d wager it’s only a matter of time now before some enterprising crate-digger mashes the funk out of this one.
Come August of 1974, Nixon was gone, leaving his fellow Americans firmly on the losing side of the War on Poverty. Especially in the District, it was a struggle just to keep the lights on. A last-ditch salvo was launched locally to save Norman “Saleem” Hylton’s ecumenical Center at 17th Street and Kalorama, but alas, the citizens of Suffragette City would lose that, too. And Hylton was a Vietnam veteran!
To this day, in a city of some 700,000 people, not a single resident of Washington, D.C. has a Congressional vote that actually counts. Making matters worse, go-go got its first bona fide Billboard-er that year with Black Heat’s “No Time To Burn.” With head songwriter Nizam Smith having defected to Miami for a solo shot, wagons ho!, Father’s Children made that ill-advised, career-ending trek to the City of Angels.
The rest, well…you already know by now. There is a post-script, however.
As late as 2007, a reunited Father’s Children self-financed an album called Sky’s the Limit and distributed it via their own FC Music imprint. (In D.C., D.I.Y. neither starts, nor ends, with one Ian MacKaye.) But honestly, from what I’ve heard of Sky’s the Limit, like most musical reunions anyways, it’s only a cheap simulacrum―a gold-plated calf cast to former glories and youthful follies (i.e. this new D-Plan record).
Eternal thanks be to Numero Group, et al. for finally putting out the real thing. We can now call off the search.
Who’s Gonna Save The World is a national treasure, worthy every bit of Jeffersonian pomp and Honest Abe’s circumstance. For once in the life of our nation’s capital, here lies a legitimate bipartisan record. And in a town littered with monuments to men passed, the seven in Father’s Children remain but a few of the ones truly worth revisiting.
Blessed were they, each one, indeed. Let us all come unto the Children once more.
This is a guest post by Washington D.C. music historian Logan K. Young
Tummy Touch is a label I’ve been a fan of since it started putting out records in the mid-90s. It has veered from the offbeat disco slackness of Tutto Matto and early Groove Armada to more recent “artist” based fare like the solo troubadour Tom Vek and the live sensation The Phenomenal Handclap Band, all the time being steered by the eccentric and “extravagantly bearded” dj Tim “Love” Lee.
The label’s website describes its sound as “Bohemian disco rock, sci-fi electro soul, unruly latin mash ups and oddball urban exotica”, and I’m not gonna argue with that, except to add that analog warmth is a key element of their sound. Oh, and that the split Groove Armada/Tim “Love” Lee twelve inch called “Disco Insert/Again Son” is one of my favourites from that period and should be in every discerning DJ’s box. “Again Son” in particular is a twisted delight, an early 90s breakbeat classic that samples a Christian preacher admonishing his own son to beat him “again, son… harder!”
Now based in New York as opposed to London, Tummy Touch is currently celebrating 15 years of releasing fine music by giving away a free compilation album, Fully Bearded: 15 Years Of Tummy Touch, featuring many of the labels best known acts remixed in a dub style.
This is simply some of the finest downtempo music around right now. From the Police-esque post-punk of Circuits and the psych-pop-funk of Bing Ji Ling, to the more dancefloor aimed grooves of New Young Pony Club and the previously mentioned Phenomenal Handclap Band, this is definitely worth a click of the mouse and the donation of your email address.
In fairness, I should have posted this ages ago, as it went up on the Tummy Touch Facebook wall 3 weeks ago with a note that said it would available for a limited time only. Which I guess means you should just download it now before it gets yanked.
Legendary funk saxophonist and band leader Jimmy Castor, of The Jimmy Castor Bunch - the sample source for a huge amount of hip-hop records - died today in Las Vegas of causes that are “currently unknown.” Sad news. Castor is best known for the evergreen breakbeat classic “It’s Just Begun,” “Troglodyte (Cave Man),” which was a huge hit for The Jimmy Castor Bunch in 1972 and “The Bertha Butt Boogie.” Here’s an excellent clip of the band performing “It’s Just Begun” live on TV (apparently the show is called Soul School), and tearing the roof off that sucker: