Funk

Simultaneously smooth, smouldering AND funky, this tune helped give soul singer Gwen McCrae a second lease of life on the Northern Soul circuit in the UK.

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The sun is out, the sky is blue and you’ll forget the mercury is hovering just above freezing as soon as you hear this tasty slice of funked-up Congolese rumba.

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Banbarra – Shack Up

20th April 2024 · 1970s, 1975, Disco, Funk, Music

Back in 1980 I discovered A Certain Ratio through this song. But until now I never knew it was a cover version – of a 1975 tune by Banbarra. In fact Banbarra’s entire discography consists of this solitary song, divided into two halves of 7-inch single.

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This funky tale of a vengeful black god coming to fix the injustices of the world comes from another of those lost masterpieces – an obscure album of jazz-funk matched to black-consciousness lyrics called Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse.

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Here’s a sultry slice of Southern soul from The Ohio Players’ debut album, long before they became disco-funkateers with a string of hits.

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Here’s a slice of smooth summery jazz-funk from Southern California’s so-called Inland Empire – the area south-east of LA that includes Palm Springs and San Bernadino.

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When I first heard this joyful celebration of Africa and freedom, on a mixtape made by Polly Harvey, I thought it must be by an African group. In fact it’s an entirely home-grown affair – a collaboration between the British neo-soul collective Sault and the British singer Michael Kiwanuka.

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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.

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Three hundred million YouTube viewers can’t be wrong – when it’s time to celebrate, this is the song. And what better time to celebrate than the turning of a new year.

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Sault – Think About It

27th December 2023 · 2010s, 2019, Funk, Music, Soul

There are many things I love about Sault, not least their initial anonymity, their eclecticism, and their refusal to play by the marketing-led rules of the music biz.

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