Ebony Rhythm Band – Intro/Interlude/Outro

17th January 2024 · 1970, 1970s, Funk, Music

The only thing wrong with this slice of psychedelic funk is that it’s too short; far too short. Put all three parts together and the whole thing is less than two and a half minutes long.

At just 43 seconds, Intro has barely begun before it ends; the middle section Interlude barely lasts half a minute and the best one – Outro – frustratingly fades out after an all-too-brief 64 seconds.
The Ebony Rhythm Band formed in Indianapolis in 1969 as a backing band for The Vanguards, a local band who had a couple of hits in the early ’70s with Somebody Please and Too Late To Love.
They then signed their own deal with LAMP Records and became the label’s house band – similar to Motown’s Funk Brothers and MFSB at Philly’s Sigma Studios – backing other vocal groups including The Pearls, The Montiques, The Diplomats and Amnesty.
They released a solitary double A-side single in 1973. Soul Heart Transplant was a tribute to their hometown’s first heart transplant recipient called Soul Heart Transplant, while the flip side, Drugs Ain’t Cool, won an anti-drug song contest put on by the Mayor of Indianapolis.
In 1971 the original quartet – Lester ‘Pig’ Johnson (bass), Matthew R ‘Phatback’ Watson (drums), Robert Townsend (guitar) and John ‘Ricky’ Jackson (organ) – moved to LA, added more members, and elongated their name to Ebony Rhythm Funk Campaign.
They were regulars on the Chitlin Circuit in the Midwest throughout the decade, playing with all the soul greats and releasing two albums under their new name (ERFC) – the first of them produced by Wayne Henderson, trombonist in The Jazz Crusaders.
Returning to Indianapolis in 1973, they had a minor hit two years later with a single called How’s Your Wife (And My Child) and released a second album, Watchin’ You Watchin’ Me in 1976 before breaking up in 1980.
They had been forgotten by all but a handful of soul enthusiasts before a 2001 compilation album called The Funky 16 Corners exposed them to a new audience.

Three years later the vintage label Now-Again Records released a full length compilation of Ebony Rhythm Band recordings, including their solitary single and unreleased tracks unearthed in the basement of Les Ohmit Recording Studios, prompting the band to reunite for a handful of shows.