Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pay It Backward (part one)

Two things I’ve noticed as the years have peeled by. First, nothing is ever new. And second, no one does it all on their own. We learn from one another, and if we were raised right, we not only build upon the advances of one another, we advance alongside one another.

In this vein I’m kicking off a multi-part series entitled “Pay It Backward.” Basically, I’ll begin with a brief bio of one funky artist, at which point we will collectively turn and “pay it backward” by putting a little shine on another funky individual (or group) that either directly or indirectly influenced said artist. Here we go.

The Whispers

The Whispers got their start in 1963 singing on street corners in Watts and occasionally performing in nightclubs in the San Francisco Bay Area. The group originally consisted of twin brothers Walter and Wallace Scott, and friends Nicholas Caldwell, Marcus Hutson, and Gordy Harmon, who was later replaced by Leavell Degree. During the late 60s to early 70s, the group released a number of hit records and several gold albums. It was in 1980, however, that the group released their first platinum album, The Whispers, containing their most famous single, "And The Beat Goes On."
Here the group discusses the intricate process of making this song in the days before drum machines. Apparently the beat truly did go on, and on, and on...


And now, it's time to pay it backward.

The O'jays

Originally hailing from Cleveland, but eventually going on to embody the Philladelphia soul sound, the O'jays are widely regarded as one of the most important soul groups of the past 40 years. Attending the same high school, the 5 original members started out as The Triumphs in 1958, then later changed their name to The Mascots. Their first single enjoyed some airplay by a local Cleveland DJ, Eddie O'jay, who decided to take them under his wing, inspiring the group to rename itself yet again.

In 1968, the group teamed up with songwriter-producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, signing to their label, Philadelphia International. By this time the group had trimmed down to three members: Eddie Levert, William Powell, and Walter Williams. Their first album released on the label was Back Stabbers, which was both a critical and popular success. The title jam, composed by McFadden & Whitehead, was a massive hit, sampled years later by Angie Stone.


The O'jays went on to release countless hits and continued recording through the 90s, though not with the same three members, as Powell passed away in 1977. At this time, Sammy Strain joined the group. In 2005, Williams, Powell, Levert, and Strain were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Monday, July 20, 2009

How was the Instant Funk Event?

Hello, Thumbs here. I did a mini post blurb about what went down on our first installment of Instant Funk from my personal blog (i don't really know why I made one. ha). So check it out! =)

Have a funky monday. I'll leave you with this.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


On August 11, 1965, Marquette Frye was pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. The Watts Rebellion ensued. Six days later, 34 people had been killed, 1, 032 injured, and 3,952 arrested. Seven years later, there was Wattstax.

Produced by the legendary Stax label, it was hailed as the "Afro-American answer to Woodstock." Held at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the concert served to commemorate the 7th anniversary of the Watts Rebellion. To ensure that everyone could have the opportunity to partake, tickets were sold for only $1. The Kings and Queens of funkdom were all in attendance: Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas, The Bar-kays, The Staples Singers, the list (and the beat) goes on. A dashiki-cloaked Jesse Jackson opened the event with the poem, "I Am - Somebody," performing a massive call and response with the crowd. The next 7 1/2 hours were surely something to behold. I, for one, regret not being there. I was, however, -11 at time. So I suppose these clips will have to suffice.

Ladies and gentlemen, Rufus Thomas.

Stanky leg my ass. THIS is dancing.


The Bar-Kays, who at the time had only two hit singles, had initially planned to enter the stadium on chariots, a plan which was promptly thrown out by stadium management, whom I will lovingly call the Buzz Killingtons of the event world. Fortunately, they were unable to foil the groups plans of bringing the FONK. And looking damn fly while doing it.


About 2 minutes in Mavis Staple goes to work. Wow.


Black Moses. Rest in power.

I'm switchin it up here. Cause I feel like it. Click to download "Walk On By"

Friday, July 3, 2009

happy 4th!

Funk in Everything...

Happy 4th of July Weekend! Let's kick off your weekend with some songs that must've been inspired by funk.  These are R&B songs (though funk originally has that hint of r&b appeal to it) that will set the mood right.  I embed three videos here with downloads that will keep that funk feeling 'oh so good' in your system.  'Get up!'s party time!...'

Mercedes Boy - Pebbles
>> Download

Baby Love - Regina
>> Download

Pleasure Principle - Miss Janet
>> Download