AFROFUNKTASTIC

hamilton bohannon – save their souls (Chris barron EDIT)
al brown – here I am baby come and take me
larry ellis and the black hammer – funky thing pt. 1
bacao rhythm & steel band – was dog a doughnut
ray bryant – up above the rock
black heat – you should’ve listened
jerry butler – I’m your mechanical man
jimi tenor & tony allen – darker side of night
bad jazz troupe – breakdown treat
this kid named miles – ring of fire
giants – kilimanjaro (EDIT)
oscar sully & the uhuru dance band – olufeme
orgone – bulletproof
earth wind & fire – brazilian rhyme (extended version)
credence clearwater revival – heard it through the grapevine (reflex revision)
exuma – exuma the obeah man
tony allen and the afro messengers – ariya
buari – advice from father
the new mastersounds – in the middle

 


MIX NOTES

Save Their Souls – Looped by the likes of G Rap, Jay Z, Large Pro and others, this is one of those 70s soul tracks many of us heard sampled long before we discovered the original. Hamilton Bohannon is mostly revered for his later disco stuff, but his first studio album, 1973’s “Stop and Go”, has some serious psychedelic soul joints on it. Hamilton got his start at Motown playing drums for Stevie Wonder, when Stevie first got signed at age 11.

Here I Am Baby (Come and Take Me) – An old soul cover from 1974 on Dickie Wong’s Jamaican label, Tit for Tat. Al Brown was a founding member of the reggae band Skin Flesh & Bones, with Sly Dunbar and Ansel Collins. He also sang for The Paragons. This was pretty much his only hit. Oddly enough, Skin Flesh & Bones had a bit of a hit with “South African Reggae“, a cover of one of Bohannon’s early 45s, called “South African Man“, which has funky weird time signature.

Funky Thing Pt 1 – The organ sound on this record OMFG… A Hammond B3 with one of those rotating cabinets. Sheeeit. This is Larry Ellis and The Black Hammer, making funk in 1969 that pretty much rivals the raw power of anything George Clinton ever produced. They only pressed a few hundred of these, but they’ve made their way into plenty of samplers since then. Larry eventually gave up the funk and founded his own church in Syracuse called God’s Way Church of Jesus on Salina Street. He was revered in his community for his work with the NAACP and local gang members, often driving around in his van on a “Prayer Patrol”, preaching the good word. He passed in 2012.

Was Dog A Doughnut – Speaking of funky, this is the Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band from Hamburg Germany, doing a cover of a song you may or may not know. This has been a favorite of B-Boys since way back, when Cat Stevens briefly ventured into drum machine territory in 1977, to little acclaim. Jellybean Benitez made an electro version in 1984, which is pretty true to the original. From what I gather, this band is basically a guy named Bjorn Wagner and some studio musicians. They’ve been laying down dope steel covers of all kinds of tracks. Check out their first album HERE, on Brooklyn’s own Big Crown Records.

Up Above The Rock – I’m not sure if it’s because Kool G Rap sampled it or what, but this groove is so fucking gangsta to me. It really makes me want to pimp walk into Madame Zenobia’s and order a bottle of Hennessy. Legendary Jazz pianist Ray Bryant released this in 1968. Ray was the house piano man at the Blue Note in Philly in the early 50s. There he played with everybody from Miles to Bird to Sonny Rollins and Lester Young. He was a staple on the Jazz scene for decades, touring with Diz and Art Blakey, and even backing Aretha on her first album. You might remember his biggest hit, featured heavily in the this scene from the John Waters’ movie Hairspray.

You Should’ve Listened – This is the second track on the A side of Black Heat‘s second album, “No Time To Burn” (1974). They only released 3 records in 3 years before disbanding in 1975. It’s got an amazing breakbeat and goes full on psychedelic fuzz guitar towards the end

I’m Your Mechanical Man – Is it real son, is it really real son, Let me know it’s real son, if it’s really real. Something I could feel son, load it up and kill one, want it raw deal son, if it’s really reeeal. Jerry Butler grew up in Cabrini Green Projects, meeting Curtis Mayfield in the local church choir. They went on to form The Impressions and the rest, as they say, is history. These days he serves as a Commissioner in Cook County, on a board that oversees hospitals and construction projects.

The Darker Side of Night – Finnish multi-instrumentalist Jimi Tenor and Afrobeat godfather Tony Allen released an album as part of Strut Records “Inspiration Information” series, which paired up musical geniuses like Amp Fiddler & Sly and Robbie, or Horace Andy & Ashley Beedle. Check out their incredible catalog HERE

Breakdown Treat – The Bad Jazz Troupe were a Munich-based funk outfit made up of bassist Jerker Kluge and a beat junky named Dusty. I don’t think they were around for very long, but I can always dig some afrobeat-ish grooves.

Ring of Fire – A lively reggae cover from 2003 by This Kid Named Miles aka Miles Tackett, DJ, musician and leader of Breakestra, the West Coast bros who started putting out Hip Hop inspired funk jams in the late 90s on Stones Throw. He still gets down with all sorts of cats, including the all star tribute to Sharon Jones a few weeks ago at The Regent in downtown LA.

Kilimanjaro – A weird, all-star side project from 1978 called Giants from Sly & The Family Stone’s drummer Greg Errico. Most of the record really doesn’t live up to the promise of having Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, Journey’s Neal Schon, and Coke Escovedo on one record. This track is the standout tho, with WAR’s Lee Oskar laying down some nice harmonica on the back end. I edited to be a bit shorter, because it wanders in percussion land for an exceedingly long time. It reminds me of a lot of the worldbeat-ish stuff Island Records was putting out in the early 80s.

Olufeme – Some smoking Highlife from late 70s Ghana courtesy of Oscar Sulley & The Uhuru Dance Band. If you dig this, check out his other certified banger, Bukom Mashie, on THIS MIX

Bulletproof – Some brand new 2017 output – a collabo with the West Coast’s Orgone and the horn section from Brooklyn’s own Ikebe Shakedown. These dudes have really mastered recreating the lof-fi analog rawness of late 70s funk.

Brazilian Rhyme (extended version) – Miracle of miracles! I finally got my hands on this version of the Earth Wind & Fire classic, which has been floating around DJ circles for years – appearing on random compilations, bootlegs, and most recently a 45. So while it may not be “new” to diggers, it’s new to me, dammit. I also recently discovered that this song has always been an uncredited, loose interpretation of Milton Nascimento’s “Beijo Partido”. The parallels may not be immediately recognizable to the ear, but listen close and you’ll hear the melody. Hmmm.

Heard it Through the Grapevine (Reflex EDIT) – My man The Reflex aka Nicholas Laugier does his thing once more, giving Creedence Clearwater Revival some serious dance floor cred. The best thing about this dude is that he remixes tracks in a very old school way, never adding in any additional modern sounds – just working with what he can get from the multitrack stems. This way, nothing sounds our of place or forced, and it just becomes the 12” version you had always dreamed of.

Exuma The Obeah Man – What to say about Exuma? Dude was definitely a one of a kind mother fucker. He was born in the Bahamas and made his way to NY in the early 60s. Within a few years, he had dropped out of architecture school and was a regular at Greenwich Village landmarks like Cafe Wha and The Bitter End, playing on bills with Bob Dylan, Hendrix, Peter Paul & Mary, and Richie Havens. Come to think of it, he sounds a lot like Richie Havens, but with his signature island twist of Bahamian Junkanoo. I came to know this song from the Soul Jazz compilation “Nicky Siano’s Legendary The Gallery (The Original New York Disco 1973-77)”, which I do very much recommend. Nicky, you might say, was sort of the Yang to David Mancuso’s Yin, laying the groundwork for the NY club scene and DJs worldwide with obscure B-sides, left field tracks, and forgotten album cuts in the early 70s. I owe a great debt to both of these dudes.

Ariya – One more Afrobeat gem from the man himself, Tony Allen, whose beautiful face bathed in blue graces the cover of this mix, and who Brian Eno called “the greatest drummer who has ever lived”. This is from Tony’s first solo work after splitting with Fela Kuti in 1978. I’m guessing that’s Candido Obajimi on vocals.

Advice From Father – Very solid afro-disco-ish track from 1975, led by Ghana’s own Sidiku Buari, with an all-NYC backing band, including Bernard Purdie on drums. Say word.

In The Middle – Leeds own The New Mastersounds lays down a smooth yet uptempo jam to finish out the mix. This is actually a James Brown cover, by way of Grant Green, and it appears on their 2016 album “The Nashville Sessions”. There’s even video of them recording it very nonchalantly, in one take, HERE. Thanks for reading all of this. And as always, thanks for listening!


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