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Funkditty

A Virtual Throwback To The Jams You Love

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Love’s Train – R&B’s national anthem

There are just some things that have the ability to remain timeless. “Love’s Train” by Con Funk Shun has proven that after 40 years this can still top the charts. Arguably one of the greatest R&B groups of their time, Con Funk Shun knew they had struck gold once they had heard the finished product, but it took a little traction to get there. Originally, Felton Pilate wrote the music with a more “quiet storm” appeal to it. Michael Cooper, the bands lead vocalist, took the music and gave it new lyrics with a different and more emotional feel to it. After hashing it out over the changes, the band agreed to go with the newer version and the rest is history.

Love’s Train by Con Funk Shun

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What kills me about this jam is that it is based on a true story about a little love triangle involving Cooper and Pilate themselves. Supposedly, they both were pretty smitten over the same ‘special lover’ and the situation somewhat played out as described in the song. What’s even more interesting to me is that during the song writing process of the song there was little to no awkwardness between the two. I guess when you are big talents, ‘that’s the way it goes’ and it’s just good sauce for great song writing.

Con Funk Shun

Con Funk Shun started out in Vallejo, California in 1969 formed by Michael Cooper and Louis McCall and the two were high school classmates. “Love’s Train” was released in 1982 on their tenth album, To the Max and apparently was big on the minds of Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak, better known these days as Silk Sonic. The duo put out their cover of the jam for Valentine’s day of this year, 2022 and it was an unknown surprise according to Pilate. He said the cover was an honor to him and they did it justice. It’s evident that the rest of the mainstream world thinks so as well do the popularity of the Silk Sonic version. This seems to be one well devised formula for a great hit: take a timeless jam and let an amazing current group at it for a refreshing take and you’ve got magic.

Love’s Train by Silk Sonic

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Happy Feelings: Maze Featuring Franky Beverly

I love going to my home town because whenever I’m in Los Angeles area, I can always count on the fact that sooner or later I will hear “Happy Feelin’s” by Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly, playing on the radio. This song was released in 1977 and is considered a Funk/Soul legendary hit still today.

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When I first started really listening to this song I noticed something pretty genius that you don’t really hear too often in other songs.  The opening chorus is sung with the complete lyrics sung by the group with ‘happy feelin’s in the air, touching people everywhere…’ and that’s the last time you hear those words.  When the chorus is sang again the next three times, you only get a ‘..happy feelin’s…’  sung out. Maze.1 I find myself trying to sing the rest of it in my mind or even out loud every time and I recognize that it’s a strategical move and great musical example of how less is more while taking affect the entire song.

EFW.1
Earth Wind and Fire released “That’s the way of the world” in 1975.  Two years before Maze released  “Happy Feelin’s.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I definitely hear a EWF vibe going on here.  I had to check on which was released first.  If it was “That’s the way of the world” or “Happy Feelin’s” that came out first and it turns out, EWF released their cut in ’75, two years before my boys Maze released this cut.  I know EWF greatly impacted the whole scene on every level so I’m not surprised or mad at Maze at all, but it’s pretty much the same vibe.

On my ever ongoing venture to collect vinyl records, I was looking a while for an original vinyl copy of this record (no reprints or singles), and had almost given up. I was about to order one online; I think right now there are 2 on ebay and that’s about all I found.  I wound up finding a potential copy on discogs.com where you could score one for about $15 dollars.  I almost bought one from someone in Germany who was selling a copy starting at about 30 or 35 bucks when I got some stern advice from someone saying to put in the work and look in the records stores.  It was about the fifth shop I looked at before I finally found it in Pomona, CA at Second Street at Glass House Record Store.  I found it at a very nice price in near mint condition.  Upon purchase, I experienced some happy feelings. (you’ll have to excuse me for that one).

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Sweetest Taboo: Sade

Listen to the song, “Sweetest Taboo” by Sade and it won’t take long until it takes you away.  I could name a handful of songs that do that to me every time and this is one of them. (“In a silent way”, Miles Davis, “Burnin’ Bush”, EWF, …)

Sade.1

The Nigerian born Sade Adu developed her musical facilities in London and if you hear the very apparent Latin influence in the music it most likely due to her time with her London based Latin Funk band where she co-wrote “Smooth Operator”.  “Sweetest Taboo” has so many vibes going on it’s almost impossible to definitely confine it to one genre.  I hear the Latin of course, Jazz, R&B, and categorized some places as quiet storm, adult contemporary, and sophisti-pop .  Watch in the video right about 2:00 mark where she does her little salsa inspired moves.  Add in those gorgeous piercing eyes which, speaking for myself, I can’t look away from.  Once the horns come in about 2:45 Sade demonstrates her control when the horns build up and she actually gets softer.  Then I’m completely done when that smooth sexy voice hits that high at about 2:57.  

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Sade.3
Album:Promise – 1985  Label: Epic

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Jamaica Funk–That’s What It Is

When you hear the word Funk, what do you think of?  I mean, besides a distinct and strong thing that hits your sense of smell like a freight train Continue reading “Jamaica Funk–That’s What It Is”

ConFunkShun-They’ve Got To Be Enough

I remember watching and recording on a dubbed over VHS cassette (the kind you had to cover with scotch tape over the hole) Sinbad’s “Soul Music Festival” airing from Jamaica in 1996.  SinbadAmong the bands featured Continue reading “ConFunkShun-They’ve Got To Be Enough”

Walk Away From Love: David Ruffin

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Some of the best soul music comes from these artists who are damn near crying and screaming the whole song.  It was confirmed Continue reading “Walk Away From Love: David Ruffin”

You Dropped A Bomb On Me: GAP Band Live @Spotlight 29

When I think about the GAP band I immediately think of Charlie Wilson.  After all he was the front man with that unmistakable voice we all know. Starting out as the Greenwood Continue reading “You Dropped A Bomb On Me: GAP Band Live @Spotlight 29”

I Call Your Name – Switch

That’s The Way I Feel About Cha’

bwomack.1

Album-Communication    Label-United Artist 1972

Right from the start of the song any listener has to stop and at least half pay attention as the guitar starts whining that soulful riff.  Then, you Continue reading “That’s The Way I Feel About Cha’”

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