Desert Island Disks: Classic Funk and Soul Edition
You know the drill. You’re stranded on a desert island and only have time to salvage 10 records from the boat before it sinks, yada yadda yadda. Of course this only works if said deserted island has electricity and a turntable/MP3 player/CD Player/amplifier, etc. But let’s not spoil the fantasy, let’s just assume you’ve got the necessary tools to play said albums. I’m going to narrow it down some, though, by choosing a specific genre, and I’m gonna start with FUNK AND SOUL!
My version of funk and soul starts in the late ‘60’s and pretty much ends at the start of the ‘80’s. You might think that’s a very snobby and cantankerous statement; I’m just tellin’ it like I sees it. To me, the watered down, modern day hip hop ‘inspired’, technically proficient ’soul music’ (notice the quotes) is utterly lacking in inspiration, originality and, well, soul.
James Brown, In The Jungle Groove: A compilation of extended versions of some of the best funk you’ll ever hear. You need other JB recordings, of course, but for a down and dirty funk fix, there’s no better single disk.
Funkadelic, Standing On The Verge Of Getting’ It On: The album where Clinton and da boyz turned down their amplifiers, watered down their psychedelic pyrotechnics and got busy. This is their funkiest album.
Curtis Mayfield, Superfly: Mayfield’s story is a sad one, but this album, as socially aware as it is, contains 2 absolute classics of the genre in Freddy’s Dead and the title song. The rest is just as stunning.
Stevie Wonder, Innervisions: My favorite Stevie album. Too High, Livin’ For The City, Higher Ground are all on this album, and are as far away as you can get from his crappy duet with McCartney in the early ‘80’s.
Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On: Not just one of the best soul albums ever recorded, but one of the best overall records ever produced. Recorded in a haze of pot smoke, this still sounds fresh, and heartfelt.
The Temptations, Psychedelic Soul: A double CD of the best of the Tempts late ‘60’s/early ‘70’s output, most of which are gloriously extended. Papa Was A Rolling Stone stretched out to 12 minutes? Hell yeah!
Parliament, Mothership Connection: If this album only contained Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker) it would still be a stone cold classic. Every other song on here, thankfully, is just as good. Plus it’s got a spaceship on the cover. Bonus points awarded.
Rick James, Street Songs: ‘81’s Street Songs was the first real funk I ever liked, and the original version of Super Freak still makes me incredibly happy, along with other tracks like Give It To Me Baby, Ghetto Life and Below The Funk (Pass The J).
Rose Royce, Car Wash OST: This is probably the outright funkiest sound track ever penned, if not the best. This album is riddled with funky grooves, slap bass and some of the best wah-wah you’ll ever hear.
Bee Gees/Various, Saturday Night Fever OST: It’s time to stop hatin’ on the Bee Gees. They were fantastically funky when they wanted to be, and this album proves it. Overplay is what killed them, but how can you today scoff at Stayin’ Alive, Night Fever, Jive Talkin’ and You Should Be Dancin’? Get up off your fat ass and dance!