Bringing Quirky Back: Alan Wilkis

New Thinking. New Alan Wilkis.

Falling on the right side of fine line between contrived and convincing, Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist Alan Wilkis brings an indie sensibility to the electro-pop sound of the 80’s with a huge dollop of soul on his solo debut Babies Dream Big. From ABBA to Zappa the entire lexicon of pop is well represented and feels so, so good. Among the 10 cuts you’d be hard pressed to find a moment that is not crafted with the utmost respect for it’s influences which range from the Stevie Wonder-esque funk of “It’s Been Great” to the 50’s Motown of the tender “I Wanna Know” with nods to Prince, ELO and Nintendo along the way. This is a must-have for all fans of all things 80’s. Don’t just take my word for it, check out my favorite track “It’s Been Great” below and hop aboard yourself.

Alan WilkisIt’s Been Great (MP3)

Buy Babies Dream Big: CDBaby | iTunes

Links: on Last.fm | on MySpace

Sly’s Fillmore Funk

It is time. It is time to be funked.

Here we have Sly and the Family Stone, live at the Fillmore East, October of 1968. The quality is great, and the funk is flyin’. So wake the neighbors, eat a pork sandwich and call yourself Jim (or Wanda). Yes, that made no sense.

Sly & the Family Stone
Live at the Fillmore East, New York City
October 5th, 1968

M’Lady
Life
Are You Ready
It Won’t Be Long
Color Me True
Dance To The Music
Love City
Turn Me Loose
Outro

Ohmega’s Platypus Strut


Ohmega Watts is a hip-hop producer / MC from Brooklyn. Nestled within his impressive most recent release, Watts Happening, is this funky, old-school, afrobeat-licious instrumental groove called “The Platypus Strut”.

Everyone should have a personal theme song or two to play in their head (or iPod) while they’re walking down the street. For me, this may have to join the Commodores’ “Machine Gun”, Kool & the Gang’s “Jungle Boogie”, and Prince’s “Sexy MF” in my list of “walk down the street like a bad-ass” theme songs.

What’s your theme song?

Ohmega Watts The Platypus Strut (mp3)

Buy Watts Happening

OhmegaWatts.com | myspace.com/ohmegawatts

On the Road: Ohmega Watts is spending February on the road with New Orleans funk-jam-meisters Galactic. Details here.

The Heavy: Funk from the Land of Noid

Here’s a nice one that came through the inbox recently. The Heavy hails from a small town outside Bath, England called Noid. Their U.S. debut, Great Vengeance and Furious Fire, will be released on April 8th. In the meantime, you can preview one of their funk-rock hybrids here. It sounds like they went with the Spinal Tap technique and turned their amps up to 11 in the studio. Funky horns, bangin’ drums, and what could pass as a jet engine backing them up.

The HeavyThat Kind of Man (mp3)

The Heavy’s Official Site | MySpace

KC Funk with KLT

Funk. Kansas City Funk.

Kenny Carter is a KC-area musician very much influenced by Uncle Geroge and the P-Funk Universe. One of Kenny’s projects in recent years was KLT – a sort of KC area funk collective. In 2003, they dropped KLT Presents…Butch. Knowing my penchant for Prince and all things Funky, one of my readers, Steve, passed along a link to this album on CD Baby. I enjoyed it from the first minute of the first song I listened to: “Lamblast”. I believe it was the System who so wisely said, “Don’t Disturb This Groove”….

Butch is an orphaned stick figure superhero from the planet Grunt. One day, ol’ Butch is transformed into “a big, black mass of muscle with giant hands that can crush just about anything”. This album is the first in a trilogy, detailing the stories and adventures behind Butch.

Now, the album was released in late 2003, and – well – there isn’t a whole lot that’s been updated on their web sites since. But the album is funky and entertaining enough to merit a listen… and maybe we can coax Kenny and KLT back from the planet Grunt or whatever galaxy they’ve zipped off too, and demand some more!

Thanks Steve for the tip. Always glad to be tipped to the f-u-n-k.

Funk it up now.

KLT – Lamblast (mp3)

Shuggie Otis – a psyche-funky-soulful classic

One of the categories I forgot to include on my Year in Music post was “Best Aged Album Discovered This Year”. Undoubtedly, it was 1974’s Inspiration Information by Shuggie Otis. Some buddies on my defunct Prince forum recommended Shuggie as sort of a “Prince 1.0”; or Prince, rather, as Shuggie 2.0.

  • He released his first album in his teens.
  • He played all of the instruments and sang.
  • He wrote his own music.
  • His music is a combination of funk, R&B, pop, and psychedelic soul…

One of the standout tracks on this record, “Strawberry Letter 23”, was later covered by the Brothers Johnson, who turned it into one of the top R&B tracks of 1977. Almost thirty-four years after its original release, the album sounds fresh and ahead of its time.

David Byrne reissued it in 2001 on his Luaka Bop label. Stylistically, the songs are all over the map. The two I give you here are a short blast of Innervisions-era funk (“Ice Cold Daydream”) and an electronic instrumental slow jam (“Pling!”). But you need to hear the whole thing, especially the finale, the 12 minute plus trippy soul/funk suite “Freedom Flight”.

BUY Inspiration Information on Shuggie Otis - World Psychedelic Classics 2: California Soul - Inspiration Information

Santa Smokes Mistletoe! Christmas with Rotary Connection

A guest post coming to you from reader & fellow funk brother # 1, Jshua…..

Happy Holidays Brothers and Sisters (or as I like to say–Happy Holy Daze….)

But I digress….

Today’s topic of discussion comes from the legendary Rotary Connection, who discovered way back in 68′ the secret behind Santa Claus’ is….

(gasp) HE SMOKES MISTLETOE!!!

Actually, it makes all of the sense in the world.

1) Living at the north pole.
2) Riding HIGH on his sleigh.
3) Leaving milk and cookies for him (aka the munchies).
4) His JOLLY behavior.

Think about it ( I mean, really think about it and tell me I’m wrong…)

Three points of interest which makes this particular song/album/and legacy of interest.

1) Sidney Barnes is the lead singer on the cut, and is also the one of the legendary songwriting partners of George Clinton and the Parliafunkadelicment Thang Inc, a huge part of the “northern soul” movement. Never mind the stuff that he did at Golden World.

2) That female voice is the legenday Minnie Ripperton and if you’re not familiar with her, you should be! Start with Come to my Garden (1970) with the Ramsey Lewis Trio as the backing band (featuring a very young Maurice White on drums).

and

3) Charles Stepney (arranger, composer and producer) – Now, if y’all don’t know about Charles, then you wouldn’t know that Charles is the secret behind Earth, Wind & Fire, period. Check out every Rotary Connection album and the first Minnie album and you’ll find out why Maurice (as EWF alumni would suggest) was the quarterback and Charles was the coach of that band until his untimely death in 76′.

But then again, never mind me….I hope you enjoy the music.

– J

Rotary ConnectionPeace at Last (mp3)

Buy Peace.

P-Funk: Um, Yeah, I’ll Have Some of What They’re Having

I have one of these sweet little Apple Airport Express gizmos that allows me to play my iTunes on any stereo inside or outside my house. So when it was time to string up the Christmas lights this past weekend, my 4 year old girl and I fired up the iTunes, set it to shuffle, and took to the front yard with wild holiday abandon.

What I didn’t realize was that earlier in the day I had filtered my iTunes to show me only “parliament”. So what ensued was 90 minutes of the P-Funk discography on shuffle. Okay, no one – not my 4-year old or my passing neighbors – realized the intensity of this Spontaneous P-Funk Christmas Light Hanging Ceremony, but I sure funked out in delight for an hour and a half.

It made me rediscover some of the gems of their catalog, including some tunes that jumped out at me for their uncharacteristic qualities. Like this song. This isn’t the P-Funk your ears expect. You hear it, and you’re wondering what it is you’re listening to. A mellow, otherworldly, fantasy-like rhythm; Peter Chase’s melodic, bird-like whistling solos. What a cool little P-Funk nugget.

ParliamentI Just Got Back (from the Fantasy, Ahead of Our Time in the Four Lands of Ellet) [mp3]

Buy: Up for the Down Stroke (1974)

Thank You, Danke, Merci, Grazie, Gracias…

Gobble!

I wanted to take the opportunity on this day of thanks to extend my warmest wishes to the friends of Ickmusic. I also want to thank Pete for allowing me to take up space on his little corner of the internet. And I’d be remiss if I did not thank all the friends and folks who read and leave the occasional comment. To share my thanks and spread the love here is the brilliant Robert Randolph & The Family Band performing “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” live.

Robert Randolph & The Family BandThank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) (MP3)

[audio:ThankYou.mp3]

Link: Official Site