Twee funk revisited
A few years ago my dudes at the Fader asked me to put together something for their Vinyl Archeology column, a regular feature devoted to neglected music. I pitched ideas on a few pet obsessions that seemed broad enough to appeal to the Fader's readership (Patrick Adams productions, slept-on Sugarhill stuff, disk jockey rap) but ultimately they had me go with a genre I called "Twee Funk"-- basically, Jackson 5-inspired soul and funk records.
To go with the article, I whipped up a 69-minute mix featuring these songs:
Jackson 5: “2, 4, 6, 8”
Promise: “I’m Not Ready for Love”
The Voices of East Harlem: “Can You Feel It”
Starborn: “Funky Piper”
The Young Gents: “Big Things Come in Small Packages”
Starborn: “Real Real Thing”
The Nation Survivers (sic): “Get Down”
The Posse: “Come Out and Play”
Wee Three: “Get on Board”
Jackson Sisters: “I Believe in Miracles”
Family Plann: “Come On Let’s Do the Breakdown”
Greer Bros.: “We Don’t Dig No Busing”
Reginald Milton & the Soul Jets: “Clap Your Hands”
The Eight Minutes: “I Can’t Get No Higher”
The Voices of East Harlem: “So Rare”
The Sylvers: “We Can Make It”
The Sylvers: “I Don’t Need to Prove Myself”
Foster Sylvers: “Misdemeanor”
The Sylvers: “Don’t Give Up the Good Life”
The Sylvers: “I Aim to Please”
The Sylvers: “Stay Away from Me”
The Sylvers: “Fool’s Paradise”
The Sylvers: “I Know Myself”
The Sylvers: “Only One Can Win”
Foster Sylvers: “Big Things Come In Small Packages”
The Eight Minutes: “Find the One Who Loves You”
Ponderosa Twins Plus One: “Bound”
Family Circle: “It Doesn’t Make Sense”
You can download it here. The other day I heard the mix for the first time in two years and was surprised at how proud I felt.
Here are two favorites that I toyed with including in the mix but which didn't make the final version:
Spidell: "When It's Over" (Gree-Jack, 197?)
Ultimate Ovation: "Hello Baby" (Ultimate 1999, 197?)
I'm not going to pretend that this is the most musical song, but I find its goofiness and weird intensity completely winning.
Aside from hearing the mix again, a big inspiration for this post was watching a clip of Jimmy Briscoe & the Beavers getting real mannish with James Brown's "Hot Pants" on a clip of the early 1970s public TV show Soul! (that episode also features LeRoy Burgess destroying "Don't Turn Around" while pulling Al Green faces while wearing what looks like a jockstrap with the letters "B-I" printed on the front!).
Five other episodes of Soul! are currently available here. The episode with Tito Puente, Willie Colon, Hector Lavoe & Felipe Luciano is a must-see. The performance by Earth Wind & Fire on this episode is also pretty mind-blowing; watching Verdine White's solo and the way they work the crowd at the end of their last song made me feel like that kind of craft and showmanship is pretty much lost in modern black music.