Classic Funk

Loosey's Rap - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Song: Loosey’s Rap

Artist: Rick James

Album: Wonderful (1988)

Genre: Funk

You know, after all these years, I didn’t even realize, or remembered that legendary rapper Roxanne Shante was on this record! Holy crap 🤣!! By the way, I saw her in person about a decade ago. Very very nice human being. She shared a lot of her personal stories, was very inspiring. You should watch her NetFlix documentary (if it’s still there). At the time of the “Wonderful” album release, it also took me a while to realize that the person singing was actually the late Rick James. When I heard the song for the first time on the radio, for a long time I really thought it was the band Cameo, trying to do something new. Back in the day, the one thing that was so annoying listening to the radio was, the dj didn’t always say the name of the artist. I guess sometimes it depends on the station you listened to. Advertisement/sponsors were more important than informing their listeners of the artist’s name.

Rick James - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

This cute, Prince(ish) song called “Loosey’s Rap,” hit #1 on the Hot 100 Charts. I believe this was the only hit from this album. I used to love me some Rick James, but this was not his best album. I’m glad I only got the 45RPM single. In my opinion, I think the best album Rick James ever made, was his album called “Street Songs (1981),” Just about all his biggest hits are on that album. That included the massive smash hit ballad “Fire & Desire,” a duet with the late Teena Marie. They sure don’t make music like that anymore. Hey, did you know that (according to one of National Public Radio’s websites) a Rick James Museum is supposed to be in the works? I would have loved to see that. I do hope someone would be kind enough to post photos when it’s all complete.

The Black Birds - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Song: Walking In Rhythm

Artist: The Blackbyrds

Album: Greatest Hits (1989)

Genre: Funk

This was a badass group right there!! I loved a lot of their music!! This was another one of those groups where it is difficult to put them in any sort of category. There are so many different sounds and cultures within one song. Sometimes it’s funk mixed with African beats, sometimes R&B with touch of psychedelic, sometimes something crazy infused with disco. Indeed they were an eccentric group back in the day, and perhaps an acquired taste. The Blackbyrds are the kind of old school group, you’ll have to sift through their songs, like being in a vinyl store before you find some masterpieces.

The Blackbyrds - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

However, the one thing we can say about this group is, these guys can sing! I can’t recall any group right now, that harmonized so well, while doing their type of music. In fact, a couple of their songs I’ve listened to reminded me very much of the O’Jays. If it were not for the fact that The Blackbyrds’s music was so different, I could easily mistaken them.

The Blackbyrds Knew How To Harmonize




A perfect example of their vocal skills, was their hit song “Walking In Rhythm (1975).” This was one of my FAVORITE R&B, disco infused song. I used to dance my ass off as a kid. I was only 8 years old when this song came out. It hit #6 on the Top 100 Chart, and #4 on the R&B chart. I’m sorry, that song should have been number one; I can’t think of any song that was more rhythmic and danceable from that year.

The Blackbyrds - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

There are a few songs from the Blackbyrds I recommend taking a listen to. “Rock Creek Park (1976),” is another dance groove song I think you’d enjoy. Sadly it only peaked at #93 on the Top 100; and #37 on the R&B Chart; but, screw that Billboard, that song is still hot in my opinion. Moving up to something a little more recent, they have an album called “Gotta Fly (2012).” There’s a soft house mix I really like called “No Stopping,” you should check out. With the exception of “No Stopping,” the album is mostly geared towards modern jazz. It’s a pretty good album, and very relevant in my opinion. Check out “Ride,” they almost got that “Kool & The Gang” sound goin’ on. By the way, looks like they’ve added a female to the group? Her name is Theresa Hall. I’m having trouble figuring out if she’s a new member, or just a guest on the album. Hmmm Whoever she is, she sounds good.

The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Song: Do Your Thing

Artist: The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band

Album: Together (1968)

Genre: Funk

Ok, I’m really taking it back now!  A guy by the name of Charles Wright had an awesome band called “The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band!” What a hell of a long name right? The bulk of their music has been mostly funk, and perhaps a little bit of R&B. I liked a lot of their music growing up. Unfortunately, I’m having trouble finding Billboard information on their music. However, I remember two of their major hits that were burning up the radio stations. The first was a song called “Do Your Thing (1968).” This song was the bomb back in the day. It was hilarious to see adults get down to this song. I mean to watch my elders dance to the point they were down on the floor was a sight to see. This was a song that pretty much allowed you to dance in anyway you like, and not feel awkward or out of place. Simple and steady beats allowed everyone from any age to dance to its music. The second song was called “Express Yourself (1970).” Again, I’m having trouble finding chart information, but from what I remember as a child, it seems that “Do Your Thing” was the biggest hit of their career. Ah, the good ol’ days.

Song: Pick Up The Pieces

Artist: Average White Band

Album: Average White Band (1975)

Genre: Funk

Let me tell you…. This was no ordinary Average White Band 🤣 😜. These guys had more funk and soulful feeling in their music, than any other blue-eyed soul band I can think of at the moment. I mean, when I was a kid, I thought they were all Black when I was listening to their music. Actually, I dare to say they’re probably more diverse as a group than “Heatwave.” They really made some good music back in the day. Having said that, once again, I am blown away about the low ranking for their (arguably the most popular) songs “Pick Up The Pieces.” When it came to groove music, this hit the spot. This became another “must have” in many barbecue gatherings when I was growing up. Yet it only reached #45 in Adult Contemporary. WTF??? 😠 BTW, I couldn’t resist in thinking, if this band would have came out today, the politically extreme left would have crucified the band for their chosen name.


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Shuggie Otis - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Song: Inspiration Information

Artist: Shuggie Otis

Album: Inspiration Information/Wings Of Love (2013)

Genre: R&B/Easy Listening

Have you guys ever heard of Shuggie Otis before? I didn’t know of him until recently. It appears he’s been in the music business since the early 70s, and has worked with many big names, including the late Jimmy Hendrix. He kind of confused me in a way; because when I look it him, I see someone very much like Santana. But when he opens his mouth, I hear a style similar to that of  Debarge & Christoper Cross. He came out with a double CD album several years back called “Inspiration Information” and I really, really like it. The song “Inspiration Information” is actually remastered from his original 1975 recording. It has a smooth R&B rhythms with a touch of funk. The song only reached #56 on the Hot R&B Charts, and a shocking #188th position on the Top 200. That is a shame, cause I think this was an amazing song.


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B.T. Express - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Song: Do It ‘Till You’re Satisfied

Artist: B.T. Express

Album: Do It (‘Till You’re Satisfied) (1974)

Genre: Funk

I can say with absolute certainty, that this song was of the biggest and most popular songs of the seventies! “Do It ‘Till You’re Satisfied,” was #1 on the R&B Charts, #2 on the Top 100 Charts, and the album itself became #1 by February 1974. It’s mind blowing how a group that was as massively popular as they were, has been completely removed from the memories of most. Another massive hit from the same album, was a song called “Express.” “Express” was more of a instrumental disco infused funk piece. It had a very catchy tune, and it was almost immediately recognizable the minute we heard it.”Express” also hit #1 on the R&B Charts, and was #4 on the Top 100 Charts. Little by little members broke off to start their own ventures. Eventually the group officially disbanded around the very late 1980s.

The Higrades - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

I want to switch gears a little bit. As some of my long time followers may have already figured out, I also love listening to music of different cultures. I’d like to introduce to you a talented group named The Hygrades, from Nigeria. You know, as a whole, I normally don’t listen to a lot of Nigerian music, but when I do, I usually enjoy it very much. However, this group did not create traditional Nigerian music. From the 70s, 80s, and even perhaps the 90s popular Nigerian music had a unique sound that was unmistakably Nigerian. But, The Hygrades did not produce traditional Nigerian music. They made what they called Afro-rock.

The Hygrades - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Although, in my opinion, I hear more of funk infused with blues than anything else. Then again, 50s/60s rock wasn’t the same rock it is today; it was as though rock from that era deserved it’s own genre. The Hygrades made some good sh*t! Also, let me say, when it comes to music, I think every country/culture has their own specialty. Having said that, I always thought to myself, if you ever wanted to learn how to pick a stringed instrument, let a Nigerian teach you. Those guys can pick them some guitar, as though that guitar was a body part 🤣. It is extremely rare that we see American artists with this level of talent today. All the ones I can think of are all gone now! Like, the late Prince? Jimmy Hendrix? Or perhaps Bo Diddley? Not even them really, ’cause with the exception of Diddley, Prince & Jimmy strung a lot of long notes, whereas Nigerian strings are usually a consistent barrage of quick & complicated high pitched notes at the base of the guitar arm.

The Hygrades - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

The Hygrades were put together by a producer named Goddy Oku, based in Enugu, Nigeria. They were eventually signed to HMV/EMI records, and produced many popular hits. “Keep On Moving,” “Rough Rider,” and one of my hot favorites “In The Jungle (instrumental version).” Unless you’re already familiar with their music, you’d never guess where these guys were from. If it were not for Spotify (not YouTube), I would have never rediscovered this group.

SpotifyThrowvacks.com

Not sure if many of my blog fans remember an old group called “The New Birth?” (Not to be confused with “New Birth Brass Band”) They were a funk & R&B band from Detroit. This was a gigantic band back in the day. They probably were about the same size (in numbers) if not larger than Earth Wind & Fire. Ha! Those days of big bands and BoysIIMen performers are gone. Your group would have to be pretty spectacular for any label to sign a group of equal size.

SpotifyThrowbacks.com

I have to say that although I was not turned on by most of their music, that’s not to say that they weren’t a talented group. I wouldn’t hold them under the same candle as Earth, Wind, & Fire, but they were good! They’ve made more than several albums throughout their career, and managed to produce 3 top 10 hits. Their first song to hit #1 was a song called “Dream Merchant (1975).” #4th position was “I Can Understand It (1975).” Their 3rd top 10 hit was ok “It’s Been A Long Time (1974),” which peaked at #9. Unfortunately, I wasn’t particularly drawn to those songs despite being huge hits.

SpotifyThrowbacks.com

However, that changed when I heard a cover they did of one of my absolute favorite songs by Perry Como, “It’s Impossible.” It’s Impossible only reached #12 on the Hot R&B Charts in 1971. You know, even if you didn’t like that kind of music, the lyrics to this song is absolutely the sweetest I’ve ever heard. Also check out their cover of Michael Jackson’s “Never Can Say Goodbye (1971).” Lastly, listen to their cover of Hamilton, Joe Frank, & Reynolds’s classic “Fallin’ In Love (1976).” I guess it appears that all the songs I love from them, were all covers.


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