Good Music We Can Know

Friday, October 21, 2011

Flash Strap Presents: Black Art + Machine Gun Funk

Here's a compilation I put together dealing with the tuffer, leaner, meaner, and more experimental side of funk, drawing from the subgenre wells of psychedelic soul, black rock, black power music, 70's Afro-futurism and spiritual jazz, and what Archie Shepp suggested be termed, "Black Art Music". I've done this without incorporating any tracks from Funkadelic or Sly Stone, the best of whose works exemplify the feel I attempt to pursue here. Giant and genius as they are, including them in a compilation would feel silly and obvious (in that regard, I feel guilty for including Betty Davis, too- although she's not as well known or widely praised now as she deserves to be). So if you already have the first three Funkadelic albums, and Sly (and the Family) Stone's There's A Riot Goin' On and Fresh (among others, hopefully), and you're looking for more experimental funk that fears not the murky darkness- that which is trippy without bearing flowers and unnecessary colors, psychedelic and angry- let this collection scratch yall's itch and lead you down nasty pathways to ruff new discoveries on your own personal funk hunt. Follow the links for the fuller story on these tracks- none of them are isolated incidents.

And for the sake of the soul, please download both parts!


1. Listen- Watts Prophets
2. Living In The Ghetto- Purple Image
3. Gettin' Kicked Off, Havin' Fun- Betty Davis
4. One Room Country Shack- Shuggie Otis
5. Can I Help You- Amnesty
6. Masked Music Man- Mandre
7. California Dreamin' (Reprise)- Eddie Hazel
8. Ohio / Machine Gun- The Isley Brothers
9. Oxford Gray- Shuggie Otis
10. Smiling Faces Sometimes- Rare Earth
11. Red Moon- Fugi
12. Cynthy-Ruth- Black Merda


1. Ghettos of the Mind- Bama
2. Let My People Go- Darongo
3. Attica Blues- Archie Shepp
4. Is Anybody Gonna Be Saved?- Ohio Players
5. Save Their Souls- Bohannon
6. I Don't Want To Die- Black Merda
7. Ain't It Fine- Kain
8. Smokin Cheeba Cheeba- Harlem Underground Band
9. Down Home Funk (Full Version)- Larry Davis
10. A Change Is Going to Come- Baby Huey & The Baby Sitters


This Is Your Heart My Son, And Now You Are The African Man: Duo Ouro Negro- Mulowa Afrika (1968?), Blackground (1971)

If you don't know by now that this Angolan duo, Duo Ouro Negro, are damn near the best thing your ears can hear, it's time for you to make haste and go to Ghostcapital to grab his immeasurable treasures. Over at his place, you'll find the best of the duo-- especially Africanissimo, which is just a phenomenal record (as well as Com Sivuca which is just as good, really), and a comp put together by the Ghost himself. Folks, I can't recommend that stuff highly enough.

For those wanting more, here's some additional bounty for your ears.

As there's not a lot of (English-language) information on these splendid men, I'm not sure of the date or issue of this album. Is it their 1968 first full-length? Is the below cover for a reissue, or another album buy the same name?

The details elude me, and looking at the tracks on this download, I suspect there is a degree of disorder and misinfo. I've done my best to clean it up for you all, but I can't find what the proper tracklist should be, and don't even know what version of Mulowa Afrika we're dealing with here. Let's focus on what we do know: this is prime Duo, every song is beautiful, and it's in 320. The rest is just superfluous mystery, much as I'd like to clear it all up.

There is some overlap with Ghostcapital's comp, and with some other Duo Ouro Negro releases, but it's still a more than worthy record to have in your life. Very highly recommended.


Here's Blackground, which I believe is from 1971. Again, you'll find some overlaps, but there's some especially wonderful, unique material here. It's bookended by partial-English language tracks, the first containing spoken word, the last sung by a giant chorus. The words lay out an allegorical African folk tale, and it's great, ending with a spirit reminding a mystical river boy (and, perhaps, the listener), "Don't forget your background, don't forget your blackground, don't forget your blackground..." It is so good.

The rest of the record is excellent, incorporating perhaps more of a heavy, but also traditional, sound than they usually might, and in general making some more experimental, slightly concept record-y moves. This is one of my favorites. Look, this is Duo Ouro Negro. There's not a bad song-- there's not a bad moment-- on either of these records. Believe.


Also, if you have a line on more Duo records, or better cover scans and further info on these two, consider letting me know about it.

EDIT: These rips apparently originated here, so please afford the original ripper(s) your thanks and gratitude, and check out the site.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Darkest Night, On a Wet-Sounding Dub: Keith Hudson- Playing It Cool & Playing It Right (1982)

In the comments for the Noel Ellis record I posted a week or so ago, Owl of Holy Warbles lauded the album's "crumbling, left-field production." That well-chosen word, "crumbling" set me to thinking about this, one of the last records from "The Dark Prince of Reggae" and dub pioneer Keith Hudson. A murky, damaged-sounding dub classic that, at its best moments, seems to be disintegrating off the reel-to-reel, like so much bongwater-molded crumbs of funk.

The high point for me, and one of my four or five favorite dub tracks of all time, is "Formula Dub" (which I included in my Dub Hot Dubs, for anyone who heard that). The guitars on this track gurgle and distort, the tape seems to lag and change speed, and everything is just in a glorious shambles. It's an unassuming masterpiece, and it makes the record completely worth the time all on its lonesome.

Not that it has to-- the rest of the record is excellent, although I'll admit it was a bit of a grower for me. Comprised of sung tracks (of highly dubby persuasion), immediately followed by their dub versions, the album has a cyclical, dreamlike quality to it. You hear a song, it's all dreamy and laid-back, then it segues into a full-on dub of itself-- you submerge into the shadow realm-- and then another song comes on, pulling you back to just below the surface, and the cycle begins anew.

One of the better tracks is "California" (followed by it's shadow-brother, "By Night Dub"), which apparently describes a long, late-night drive, its eery refrain "darkest night, on a wet-looking road" seeming especially evocative.

Also be sure to check out Mr. Owl's post of Mr. Hudson's all-time classic Pick A Dub, as it is awesome.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Brittle Little Drum Machines on the Funk Hunt: Timmy Thomas- Why Can't We Live Together (1973)

Here's another quick post- gettin' us back on the funk hunt. I'd only previously heard Timmy Thomas' "Funky Me" on the Miami Sound comp from Soul Jazz, and this installment of drum-machine funk on the wonderful blog Office Naps (where you can find a little bit of good info on Mr. Thomas and a whole lot of great 45s). But the other day I grabbed a rip of the full-length, and it's a treat to say the least. Comprised mostly of a primitive drum machine and Thomas on a Hammond organ and fairly naked vocals, it's a stripped-down affair, but strikingly so. Minimalist funk, if ever there was such a thing. Sly Stone circa Riot Goin' On would definitely relate (though let me be clear: this is nowhere near that piece of work, which should be considered indispensable.) Highly recommended.