This week’s is a a throwback retracing some of our musical heritage as well as a reach forward .  It is a celebration of 50+ years of funk in honor of Tower of Power who just celebrated their 50th anniversary.  Here’s a rundown of this week’s playlist –

  1.  Oakland Stroke (pt 1)  – Tower of Power: ToP is one of’s all time favorite bands, is widely recognized as the best horn band of all time.  We’re so looking forward to Monday and Tuesday when we’ll be front row at City Winery Atlanta to experience the fantastic all around, polished musicianship of this band. The boys from the bay actually did three “Oakland Strokes” and use them as bookends on albums.  This original version (and it’s second half) was from the “Back to Oakland” album in 1974.  On their Warner “What is Hip?” double CD collection, the only published version of Stroke ’75 appeared.  And on their latest release, they open and close with “East Bay! All Day!” and “East Bay! Oakland Style!”
  2. On the Soul Side of Town – Tower of Power:  The title track, has a ominous sound, reeking of danger but pleasure at the same time.  It has a feel similar to “Back on the Streets” although the pace is slower.  I’m especially fond of Emilio’s “Soul Side” vocal accents.  Again, a nice organ interlude from Roger Smith breaks the song in half and it comes back with power vocals from (now departed) vocalist Ray Greene and tight as a fist horn work that only ToP can deliver.
  3. Hollywood Swinging – Kool & The Gang:  One of the early hits for one of the top funk bands of the 70s.  This one just reeks of some greasy funk and holds up to the test of time as a funk standard.
  4. All Day Music, War:  War (now Lowrider Band) also is one of the most recognizable funk, soul, world, latin, jazz bands of the 70s.  This song always gets us – it’s made for hot summer days like today and cruising around having fun.  If this song doesn’t help you relax, nothing will.  (It’s a travesty that the name “War” has been hijacked by one member, while four OGs are sidelined and must only use the name Lowrider Band).
  5. The Dream, Yellowjackets featuring Michael Franks:  This classic brings the titals of jazz fusion together with Michael Franks, who has a string of jazz vocal hits in the 80s.  This song is a perfect melding of the the two aces and is apropos for today’s world.
  6. Gilded Age, Lotus: Flash forward to today’s era and the jazztronica, jam oriented Lotus weighs in with this bouncy yet somewhat crunchy nugget that is reminiscent of Pat Metheny and his “As Falls Wichita, so Falls Wichita Falls” work from 1981.
  7. Madison Square, Lettuce:  This group, one of our faves, is likely the epitome of pure funk today – no one goes deeper and just brings the heat like these guys.  This cut is a perennial live favorite from their Fly album.
  8. Catch Me If You Can, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds:  A bluesy, funky roll with Arleigh Kincheloe (Sister Sparrow) flat out belting the vocals.  The group has a terrific sound, puts on great live shows and is not to be missed.  Think Tedeschi Trucks Band with that southern soulful horn driven funk. Plus Arleigh’s bro Jackson shreds the harmonica through a slick pedal board.
  9. Alien Love Factory, Brass-a-Holics: These guys are the preeminent gogo funk band out of New Orleans.  This tune just cooks and will get you groovin for sure.  Their live shows typically mix original materials and excellent covers like Earth, Wind and Fire’s “In the Stone”.  Catch them all around NOLA or when they come visit your town.
  10. DFU, Groove Collective: These guys have been around for a while but this tune is on point as a great Afrobeat example.  The album that this cut came from, People People Music Music, was actually nominated for a Grammy award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year in 2007.
  11. Burnt Offering, The Budos Band:  The Budos Band is probably the best non-touring band around and is on Daptone Records.  This title track from their latest 2014 is as dark and foreboding as they come.  Think Afrobeat meets metal and you’ll love these guys.
  12. Mission to the Sitars, Fort Knox Five:  Indian funk, middle space music?  This tune is whacks for its interlocking of sitars and horns.  Another group that’s been around for a while and just puts out great shit.  Check it out.
  13. Oakland Stroke (pt 2.)  – Tower of Power: That’s it for the weekly list and no better way to close it out than bookending with this tune just like a ToP disc. Listen and enjoy –