Song: Walking In Rhythm
Artist: The Blackbyrds
Album: Greatest Hits (1989)
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.
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.
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.
Song: Do Your Thing
Album: Together (1968)
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)
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.AU: Shop Women’s Fashion at Bally!
Song: Inspiration Information
Artist: Shuggie Otis
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.Delicious Fresh Baked Cookies from David’s Cookies. All different sizes and flavors!
Artist: B.T. Express
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.
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!