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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.Save up to 30%. See what’s on sale!
YESSSS! And I mean that!! Bring Bring Back The Funky Dunk! 😂 Man, we had some good funk music back in the day. In fact, funk music was something we played when you wanted to party hard! It was a site to see growing up. Seeing guys on a major party night, with the highest afros, earth toned shirts, opened buttons from the neck down to mid level, exposing their hairy chest, collars that looked like bird wings. They leave smelling good, and comeback home in the wee hours of the night smelling like cattle! 🤣 There was something special about funk music that I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it. In my opinion, I think about other types of dance music such as disco etc, they all had that power to potentially make us move your bodies; but there was something about funk music that when it’s played in a crowded dance room just freed your mind. I don’t know what it was. Maybe it was because you rarely heard doom and gloom lyrics like “baby I’m sorry,” “ooh ooh ooh forgive me.” It was as though funk music was created for the expressed purpose of dancing or dancing with a partner.
The Highest Of Afros, And Shirt Collars Looked Like Bird Wings!
Realizing I’ve never put together a playlist consisting of funk music, I figured it was long overdue! So, Bring Back The Funky Dunk, is a hand picked playlist by yours truly (of course). I carefully chose the kinds of funk music I felt would transport you inside an actual funk party!
So, I’m going to start off this funk party with Earth Wind & Fire’s Getaway. I think this was my first EWF album. It’s crazy how many Black folk love EWF, yet, I haven’t heard anyone play this song in ages! Not even in 70s parties. What’s up with that? Getaway is very much iconic, and definitely deserves to be remembered! I don’t know how well the song did on the Funk Charts, but it reached #12 on the Top 100, which is a pretty good indication it was probably near between #8 & #1 on the Funk Charts.
This song right here – “Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine,” by none other than the late James Brown was the joint back then! Every single person danced to this song! Even the elderly who couldn’t dance, were rocking their shoulders to Jame’s music. You know, it’s interesting how complex billboard ratings are. This song only peaked at #15 on the Top 100 Charts; but it was #2 in terms of the sale of a single record. I know from growing up, this song was so popular, it should have been #1. Just sayin’.
Cannot End Without The Late Michael Jackson
I have many more greats on this playlist! A forgotten mega hit called “Get Loose,” by Evelyn “Champagne” King. And of course, I can’t end this article without adding the late MJ’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.” There’s enough songs in this playlist to give you a good feel for funk music back in the day. I feel that funk music is kind of like denim jeans. Regardless of how they look, or when they were made, there never seem to be a time stamp on them. Funk music can be played in any era, and have a great time doing so. Check out my new funk playlist on Spotify!