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Various Artists - Funk It! Print E-mail
Tuesday, 10 July 2001

Funk It!
Various Artists
format: CD
label: Instinct Records
release year: 2001
performance: 9
sound 7
reviewed by: Jerry Del Colliano

ImageFunk – it is hard to define but, much like a blast from the Tower of Power horn section or a primal yelp from the Godfather of Soul, you know it when you hear it. If you are like me, you just can’t get enough. While I own many of the traditional funk records from James Brown, Parliament/Funkadelic, Prince and even modern funksters like Jamiroquai and Lenny Kravitz, I am always looking for new jams and have I ever found a collection of them.

Funk It! is one of those records that arrives at out of nowhere and lights up the entire office. With a line-up that includes not a single artist I have ever heard of, Funk It! is an old-school funk-fest to the highest degree with blazing horns, tight upbeat rhythms and worthy frontmen that pump out some of the coolest songs I have heard since the days of Superfly or even the Theme from Shaft.

The Lee Armstrong Express does an homage to one of my favorite Los Angeles culinary delights in a song called "Chicken and Waffles." The tune absolutely struts with a pimped-out groove accented by an ultra-fuzzy Hammond organ line, fronted by a Barry White-esque narration of the inner-details of the meal of my dreams, "chicken and waffles."

The Poets of Rhythm get down like no one’s business on "Practice What You Preach" with an intensity so amazing you could confuse The Poets for the JBs. They offer slick guitar work, horny horns and a vibe so funked out that you can’t help but to dance to it.

The closer on the record is by The Mighty Continentals, "Sticky Stick Sock-A-Poo." Don’t ask me what they are singing about on this tune, but when they get the chorus of "Sticky Stick Sock-A-Poo," complete with the call and response horns, you gotta just go with this one. The beat is ultra-happening and the horns are nothing short of sublime. As Prince so eloquently put it, this cut rocks hard in a funky place.

I would love to get a chance to see some of these artists live. They hark back to that soul club called LG’s Blue Note that my older golfing buddy, Ian Polumbo, used to take me to in Southwest Philadelphia when I was 16. While we did know to order Jaquin’s Rock and Rye (a drink I don’t recommend unless you are REALLY trying to play the role of a 16-year-old white bluesman), we also knew that on Thursday nights we were in for a funky treat, having seen some of Philly’s finer funk and soul acts play live. Funk It! is as close to those formative performances as I have heard since then. I will be ordering a copy and overnighting it to Ian at Oxford, where he’s working on his doctoral thesis on stream of consciousness James Joyce. I hear if you drink enough Rock and Rye, you can actually figure out where the punctuation should go in Ulysses.

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