29 April 2015, No. 86, Claudja Barry, ‘Love for the Sake of Love (Macchianera Extended Re-Edit)’

Seven beats per minute faster than the original and more than twice as long, this re-edit of Claudja Barry’s “Love for the Sake of Love” is a very useful thing to have around. When I got the track, Ricky C was calling himself By-Pass, and this was the “By-Pass Extended Re-Edit.” Mr. C seems to have changed some names, though, so now he’s a.k.a. Twoplusone and No. 86 on our list is Claudja Barry’s “Love for the Sake of Love (Macchianera Extended Re-Edit).”

27 April 2015, No. 85, James Brown, ‘Funky Drummer’

“One, two, three, four, get it.” Or maybe soul’s godfather is telling Mr. Stubblefield to “get in here”; I can’t quite tell. And then Clyde solos the drums through the break, keeping a tight grip on the groove but letting his left hand pepper the snare with ghost notes like feathers falling. You’ve heard these drums before, and you’ll hear them again. In the race to be the most-sampled song in history, this one’s a frontrunner, if not the leader of the funky pack. No. 85, James Brown, “Funky Drummer.” Skip to 5:32 to hear the open drum break yet again.

26 April 2015, No. 84, Breakbot, ‘Intersection’

Today we’ve got Breakbot’s flip of Jean Terrell’s tune “No Limit.” Breakbot calls their version “Intersection,” and it’s substantially different from Terrell’s. I don’t know where the other elements came from; Breakbot’s studio, perhaps. Not everything has to be sample based. No. 84, “Intersection” by Breakbot.

24 April 2015, No. 83, Bob James, ‘Nautilus’

We heard the Masters at Work version, but this one here is the real deal, Bob James gettin’ funky like a shell with a golden mean. You can too. Careful, though; No. 83's bassline may show up in your dreams.

Bob James, "Nautilus"

23 April 2015, No. 82, Bo Diddley, ‘Hit or Miss’

Bo Diddley played a rectangular electric guitar, and I think of him mostly as a blues man. Turns out he’s just himself, though, and nobody else, which he tells us in No. 82, “Hit or Miss.”

20 April 2015

We're off book today. This tune's not from the list we've been doing; it's from a different list. Looks like Stuff Smith wrote it, Fats Waller did the popular version, and Wayne Hancock honky-tonked it up, probably sometime after Willie Nelson convinced him to quit drinking. You'll know how if you're a "Viper."

19 April 2015, No. 81, Bill Withers, ‘Lovely Day (DJ Eleven Remix Do-Over)’

A classic soul tune only gets better when one adds big, programmed drums. No. 81 is Bill Withers, “Lovely Day (DJ Eleven Remix Do-Over).”

18 April 2015, No. 80, Archie Bell and the Drells, ‘Strategy (Touchsoul Re-Edit)’

We haven’t had the original yet because this re-edit is slowed down a little bit. Archie Bell and the Drells are familiar friends, though, and they’re back at No. 80 tryna come up with a “Strategy.” Archie Bell has a jones for you, and he’s freaky deaky too. Touchsoul’s cut/paste/loop work makes sure the message sinks in.

17 April 2015, No. 79, A. B. White, ‘Check Yourself’

Long before Ice Cube urged a self-check on account of the destructive power of shotgun bullets (clearly he meant slugs or shot, but poetic license I suppose), A. B. White warned that we’d better check ourselves before we end up by ourselves. So keep it honest, fellas; check on yourself, or she’ll leave you for someone else. No. 79, “Check Yourself.”

16 April 2015, No. 78, Toni Tornado, ‘Torniente’

This is another Rich Wexler recommendation, and another funky tune from overseas. It’s also very punk rock in its refusal to go much more than a minute in length. No idea what “torniente” means in Portuguese (the artist, Toni Tornado, is Brazilian) or any other language. Maybe something to do with smoking since there’s a lot of coughing there at the end. Enjoy a minute of funk because No. 78 is Toni Tornado’s “Torniente.”

15 April 2015, No. 77, Please, ‘Sing a Simple Song’

I'm not writing today, just quoting. "Oh, that was nice. Let me hear Bobby now ... Yeah, let me hear Mariano ... Now let me hear my man now, Mike ... [peals of laughter]." No. 77, Please's cover of "Sing a Simple Song."

14 April 2015, No. 76, Nazan Soray, ‘Hal Hal’

Coincidentally, I was reading about all the various incarnations of The Young Turks this morning, old political movement, current political talk show, and the Rod Stewart synthpop song. Guess which one resonated with me when I was thinking about Cenk Uygur’s show. Give you a hint: It was the Rod Stewart tune. That’s never gonna be on this list, though. Maybe in the future if we start running through a different list, but it would have to be a list like “crappy new-wave bandwagon-jumping songs” or something like that. This delightfully Turkish bit of funk, though, comes from Nazan Soray, and it has some ill breaks that are fun to chant along with. If you’re interested in knowing what you’re singing along to, it seems to be a song about a bangle. A bracelet, I assume, not, e.g., Susanna Hoffs.

No. 76, Nazan Soray, "Hal Hal."

13 April 2015, No. 75, Nuyorican Soul, ‘Nautilus (Mawtilus)’

It was a long day, and I’m glad to relax with one of the twinkliest songs on the list. In high-pitched, long-sustain keys it’s rivaled only by the original version, which we’ll get to in a few days. A lot of times it seems artists don’t want a cover tune to sound too much like the original, and this one’s no carbon copy, but the word faithful applies here. And the drums are heavier in the version Masters at Work had a hand in, but it couldn’t be otherwise, now could it? This whole Nuyorican Soul record is great, as is most of Mr. Gonzalez and Mr. Vega’s work. They’re the masters at it, after all. No. 75 is “Nautilus (Mawtilus)” from Nuyorican Soul.

12 April 2015, No. 74, Keni Burke, ‘Risin’ to the Top (OOFT! Long Edit)’

That Doug E. Fresh tune I mentioned a few days ago is not my favorite song in which the bassline from No. 74 shows up. I think Keni Burke’s “Risin’ to the Top” is best chopped and reused by Posdnuos (from De La Soul) for Medina Green and Mos Def’s track “Crosstown Beef.” I like Burke’s singing well enough, but the backup singers’ “give it all you got” is my favorite element after the bassline. Then the vibes. Then the shimmery synth pad that starts it. In that order, which is not the order in which they come up in the song. Hear for yourself:

No. 74, “Risin’ to the Top,” Keni Burke.

[Edit: The tune in my list is “Risin’ to the Top (OOFT! Long Edit),” but it's not on the OOFT! Soundcloud anymore, and I don't feel like reposting an excerpt. Sorry!]

11 April 2015, No. 73, James Brown, ‘Blind Man Can See It’

From what I’ve read about working with James Brown, the intro to this tune is a pretty good indicator of what it was like. Brown sings stuff to the band and they play it that way. Then I think he shouted at them, underpaid them, and fired them (or drove them away). All that aside, people still talk about him in interviews with a certain sense of respect and admiration, as befits the Godfather of Soul. I was in Philadelphia when he died, and ?uestlove played a tribute set at Fluid that was amazing. Here’s No. 73, James Brown with “Blind Man Can See It.”

10 April 2015, No. 72, Jimmy ‘Bo’ Horne, ‘Let Me (Let Me Be Your Lover)’

This is not the funkiest Jimmy “Bo” Horne joint. I feel like I say that a lot down here in the slow tunes since all the hot stuff is about 15 beats per minute away. For example, the Horne tune that sticks with me the most is “Dance Across the Floor” at 112 bpm. Down here at 97 bpm, though, Horne and his backup singers plead and implore the listener to “Let Me (Let Me Be Your Lover).” Their urgency sounds menacing, though; like, what happens if we don’t let them be our lover? They’re a little too close to shouting it at us. And too persistent. But it’s funky. My favorite thing here is maybe the most subtle, and its subtlety is probably why I like it. There’s a really faint, stringy synth pad that runs in the background throughout the whole song, changing with the chords and moving around more in the middle than at the ends. Great tune. Check it out. “Let Me (Let Me Be Your Lover),” Jimmy “Bo” Horne, No. 72. 

Note: There’s an NSFW video for this song too, if women’s nipples through tulle are frowned upon at your workplace. If you find that video and watch it, however, know that it undercuts the element of menace I hear in this song. Horne’s just a shlubby dude in a sleazure suit flashing his gold chains and wishing someone would let him love them.

9 April 2015, No. 71, Heatwave, ‘Ain’t No Half Steppin’’

I skipped a day anyway, after I promised to be funky daily, but there was no outcry from an enraged public, so I’m glad I let only myself down. It was worth the wait, this song, and maybe yesterday I wouldn’t have been able to give it the proper attention. No. 71’s foreboding intro belies the smoothness of Heatwave’s commitment to full soul, ’cause there “Ain’t No Half Steppin’.” Like many on the list, this song’s been sampled a lot. I’m partial to its appearance in “Keep Risin’ to the Top” by Doug E. Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew (which is built on the Keni Burke tune at No. 74, but that’s for another day). So, then, Heatwave at No. 71 with “Ain’t No Half Steppin’.”

7 April 2015, No. 70, Eddie Bo, ‘Hook and Sling Part 1’

It’s tunes like this that make me wish I paid more attention to 45s. I don’t, though. I should buy a box to store properly the seven-inch records I already have. Then maybe I’d be on the lookout for more. But as it is, with no place to keep them, those little records are things I don’t collect. The songs on them, on the other hand, are vital things to have, and especially this one. The snare-heavy drums and relentless tambourine drive this thing right into your feet while Bo yells “Hook it! Hey, you over there with the big yams, sling it!” Here’s No. 70, Eddie Bo, “Hook and Sling Part 1.”

6 April 2015, No. 69, Wilson Pickett, ‘Engine Number 9’

This is a fun tune to juggle with. I just spent 20 minutes or so setting up cue points in the intro and breaks and throwing them back and forth. Sure, one can just press the buttons and jump around in one track on one channel, but it’s more fun to use faders too. In the break there’s a nice “Yeah” on a four that makes for some fun, old school looping. Wilson Pickett screams a lot, and the guitars are distorted and screaming too, giving this locomotive tune an urgency we don’t often hear from the slower end of the spectrum. Well, and I guess the train-themed lyrics (“Got to get me there on time”; “Keep on movin’”; etc.) help with that feeling too. The best thing about this tune might be the really understated organ part in the break. Figure it out for yourself when you listen to “Engine Number 9” from Wilson Pickett, which is selection No. 69 on our list.

5 April 2015, No. 68, The Soul Searchers, ‘Ashley’s Roachclip’

Man, really resting on my laurels lately. Not like anybody gave me new headgear, although I guess I’d get to borrow a cap and gown if I wanted to. But no more Mr. Lazy; I’ll try to bring the funk daily this week, starting today. Not every song with a good break is a funky tune, and not every funk tune with a flute can really pull it off, but “Ashley’s Roachclip” from The Soul Searchers is funky all the way through. The drum break was the soundtrack to the late ’80s and early ’90s in my mind, showing up everywhere, but I think I like it best in its original context. So here’s No. 68.

3 April 2015, Nos. 66 and 67, The Headhunters, ‘God Made Me Funky’; The Honeydrippers, ‘Impeach the President’

I should have posted something way out of character for an April Fool's prank, but I only thought of it, I didn't do it, so watch out a year from now. I'll convince you 101 Strings have a funky cut deep in the stacks...

Took a few days off to focus on school and the novel I wrote in which the first 45 or so of these posts reappear. The book's good enough to get me out of graduate school. Next I guess we'll find out if it's good enough for anything else. Anyway, I'm back at it, and we'll do two today, since it's been a few days and both tunes are open-drums joints that show up in tons of hip-hop songs, notably Fugees, "Ready or Not" for the first one and "Around the Way Girl" by LL Cool J for the Honeydrippers break.

No. 66, The Headhunters, "God Made Me Funky"

No. 67, The Honeydrippers, "Impeach the President"