Tag Archives: Funk

Who Says A White Guy Can’t Like Funk Music?

25 Feb

I have been enjoying Black History Month in the way that most excites me.

Sure, I appreciate the African-American scientists, inventors, civic and political leaders – but the innovators who pluck my strings the most are the musical masters. Yes, my 3 favorite bands of all-time are the pale, but prolific, Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin – but I know quite well that they all formed out of a love for black music. Most everything we listen to today has come by way of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

Right now, though, I want to express my thoughts on one particular genre;
BIG, FAT, BONE-RATTLING, FUNK.

There are many sub-genres within funk. I want to focus on the nasty stuff from the early 1970s through the early 1980s.

Full disclosure: On the outside, I am very white. An Irish-American former New York police officer. About as far from Rick James as a person can get.  However, funk is all about the feeling.  It’s inside you. I feel I am qualified to write a few words on the subject because
A) I have yet to meet a person who owns more funk CDs and vinyl than I. They number in the thousands.  You, the reader, may indeed have more, and if so, I can only hope we will meet someday.
B) I can name a whole lot of folks who have been members of Parliament/Funkadelic, and not just the obvious ones.
C) I am well aware that the Commodores could bring some of the ugliest (in a good way) funk to ever fill a wax groove, yet most of the world knows them for the syrupy ballads. I still own my original 45rpm single of “Machine Gun”, and it is in mint condition.
D) I have been retweeted by George Clinton, Bootsy Collins and Freekbass.

I also will not be trying to gain false credibility by peppering this blog with terms like “thang”, “dat”, and “y’all”. I feel the funk, but I don’t really write the funk.  To do so would be disingenuous.

Over the past 25 years or so, I have heard very little “new” funk of the type I like, the aforementioned Freekbass being a notable exception. Not sure why this great musical monster has all but vanished, but I hope that somewhere, some kids are listening to the classics and putting their own spin on them.

For those kids, I humbly offer a few tips on what would get this funk lover (and countless others) to give their songs/albums a listen.

What follows is a bit of goofy fun, but is also oddly true. So, let’s get “on the one”, shall we?

SONG TITLES. Featuring some of the following in your song names, would have me greedily snatching up your music:

Use parentheses. A song title that follows this theme: “This is our song (but this is what you probably call it)” is pure gold.

Toss in a title that ends in “A-Zoid” or “Zilla”.

Mention creatures such as worms, maggots, birds, mice and dogs.

Use the wonderful apostrophe. Movin’ – not Moving.

Exxtra letters are funkalicious. Toss in a “Bbam” or a “Ffloor”. Bonus points for multiple Z and X use. “Foxxy” tops “Foxy”, and the triple X “Foxxxy” is the nastiest of all.

Name a dance after your song.

Have a part 1 and part 2. Pure brilliance.

Make a song a “Theme From” record. There need not be anything tangible that the theme is actually from.

Toss an abbreviated year in your title. “Mudd Splatter” is not nearly as cool as “Mudd Splatter ’74”

Don’t limit yourself to “funk”. “Fonk”, “Funck” and “Fungk” are just the tip of the iceberg.

Write a song about the tip of an iceberg.

Exhaust all possibilities of outer-space references. Name things after planets, stars, galaxies, basically anything celestial. When you run out of space junk, start on the underwater stuff.

In addition to aliens and aquatic life, fill your record with munchkins, elves, chipmunks, grannies, and clueless, straight, bean-counters. Every creature in your funk world should be able to speak.  The voices will range from the deepest bass to shit only a dog can hear.

The following words are like precious metals: Sticky, Sweaty, Nasty, Greasy, Gooey, Chunky, Fat, Hot, Smoke, Jam, Thump, Stuff, Robot.  Add additional letters as desired.

Instruct your listener to do something.  It can be Dance, Work, Ride, Jump, Hump, or another thousand different things.

Incorporate any variation of traditional Universal Studios monsters into your song/album/band name. Dracula, Frankenstein (or his Bride), Wolfman, or Mummy.

Make a song title one long word. “Can’tgetmyjamoncauseIgotnobread”. Feel free to use that one.

Multiple exclamation points make for bad prose, but hot song titles. Use them!!!

Name a song after a Disney character.

OTHER STUFFF: Wear colorful clothing; from African-inspired garb to Martians on acid – just bring the color! Black cowboys are good too.

Consider donning something along the lines of a long dinosaur tail, big yellow chicken feet, pastel hair and/or a gargantuan hat.

Have a guitarist who sounds like he could comfortably play in a major rock or metal band.

Have a bassist who sounds like he has at least 12 fingers.

Individuals might consider a single, descriptive name.  Bootsy, Sly, and Sugarfoot have already been claimed.

ADVANCED CLASS: Create a large family of side projects.

WHEN YOU HAVE “MADE IT”: Have two identical groups, with all of the same members, recording brilliant albums for two different record labels, under different band names, at the exact same time.

Well, there you have a list of funk tips from a white guy who can’t play a single instrument. You’re welcome.

It is also important to remember that, before anyone was “Gangsta”, they were “Gangster”. The latter term was proudly used in song and album by funky masters such as George Clinton, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and the man who broke down all barriers, Jimi Hendrix. Hell, even Heatwave used “Gangster” in their groove!

Your pallid funkateer (me) knows a little about Gangsters too, and I’ve written a book about them. You can grab a FREE peek, and see some great reviews and big name praise by following the link below. If a book can have the funk, I promise you that Sons of the Pope has it.

It’s on the one.

http://www.amazon.com/Sons-of-the-Pope-ebook/dp/B00ALI11WM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1357272093&sr=8-2&keywords=sons+of+the+pope

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Backspace (Pts 1 and 2)*

3 Feb

A wise man in a long, flowing robe (dressed in this manner more due to laziness than as an indicator of social or historical stature) once mused that if one were to simultaneously play the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus” backwards while playing anything by Parliament/Funkadelic forwards, they might be empowered with the ability to alter the past.

They also would undoubtedly be in possession of one hell of a nice stereo system.

Sidestepping the temptation to launch an audiophile rant, I will focus on my all-too-frequent thoughts about what I would do with the gift of time travel. I’d certainly follow my conscience (and satisfy Stephen King) by showing up in Dealey Plaza. I’d get my ass to the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis and outside the Dakota in New York City, too. I’d try to enlist help, but as I am of ample size and have two decades of police experience, I’m confident that my supernatural journey to these places would result in the desired outcomes.

I would also make sure that my friend Richie Aceto, and over 3000 other folks, would live to see September 12, 2001.

What I would do with that bulky, damp bag of terrorist heads is a problem I’d give just about anything to have.

After stops in Oklahoma City, the Ambassador Hotel in L.A. and some other areas of rectification, I might have a little time to myself. That would be when I’d address some extraordinarily lesser items of personal significance.

I’d try and uncover whomever it was that started ending sentences with the word “AT”. I’d do whatever it took to discover where he, or she, was “AT”. I initially thought this phenomenon began on the TV show “Cops”. I have yet to see an episode whereby a shirtless criminal hasn’t ended a sentence, and usually his freedom, with a preposition. In 40% of the episodes, the cops do it too. Hey, I’m often guilty of the preposition crime myself – just not with the word “AT”.

I’d go back and find my dear parents, who I lost in childhood. After some hugs, I’d ask them to please befriend somebody in the publishing world, so that in my future I’d have an easier path to getting in print (while “print” still exists) – you know, like Stephen King’s kid. Then I could also help the friends I have who are brimming with talent but low on the connection pole. I know some incredible geniuses who drive trains and police cars, bang nails all day, teach and so on, but they have no connections. If these types of people were part of the In-Crowd, then Snooki would not have published a novel and “Hot Tub Time Machine” would have never littered a movie screen.

I might do what I could to put an end to Mp3 and e-publishing before they ever got started. I love the internet, but I also loved music stores, bookshops and mom & pop video stores. I’m not a fan of the faceless society of hand-held everything instruments. We are becoming ALL THE SAME.

Trying to rein in my rambling now – please don’t judge my writing based solely on this blog. I don’t do much in the way of editing or second drafts – this is just a stream-of-consciousness blog. Don’t believe me? Read on.

I could never decide on a clear favorite Darren on “Bewitched” – if you younger types don’t know what I mean by that, please Google it, or if you are involved in time travel yourself, and will be lurking in the BG era (Before Google) – BGE for you non-religious types – you can phone that friend who knows all the trivia. Remember them? There’s a talent that has gone the way of the passenger pigeon. I wonder where all those fantastic trivia wizards are currently “AT”?

I was more of an Uncle Arthur fan.

Well, I just want you all ( if there are any of “you”) to think about something, please. Envision the majesty of Buckingham Palace or the beauty of the Vatican. Picture the East Wing of the White House or the top floor executive offices at Microsoft. Each and every one of those places has someone who cleans the toilets.

And I bet they have a special security badge that says so.

*There really aren’t parts 1 and 2 to this blog, it’s just that I have been listening to a lot of Isley Brothers.

http://www.amazon.com/Sons-of-the-Pope-ebook/dp/B00ALI11WM/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1377620004