Tag Archive: funk

  • Album covers analysed: James Brown, Hell

    Look away now, scaredy-cats

    james-brown-hell-actual

    Presumably as a cap doff to the artist Hieronymus Bosch, James Brown created his own version of The Garden of Earthly Delights for his Hell album in 1974. Bosch fans will already be familiar with his cruel and terrifying depiction of life in eternal damnation – pigs dressed as nuns, daggers thrusting through giant ears, naked men impaled on mandolins, demons everywhere. It’s one scary 15th century vision, with more than a hint of Salvador Dali about it. And so to The Hardest Working Man In Showbusiness and his painting of what hell must be like. Well, there’s a soldier, a junkie, a big nod to Vietnam, a Watergate reel-to-reel, a man behind bars, and the words Food Shortage and Tax Increases literally spelt out. Most startling of all, however, is the image of a woman standing in the garage forecourt, unable to fill her car up. They’ve run out of petrol. What next? A strike at the Ginsters factory? Now that really would be hell. Here’s a brilliant track from the album.

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  • Happy Birthday The Queen, here’s an amazing record!

    Bobby Cash Redd, Skate Party People

    As sure as eggs is/are eggs, The Queen was always going to turn 83 today. In fact, we’d put money on Her Majesty having to send a 100th birthday telegram to herself in 2026, she’s just that healthy. Charles, meanwhile, will be standing beside her, furious that he never got the chance to be the Warrior King he always believed he could be – instead taking gingerly to the thrown, mindlessly scratching an itch on his scrotum. An old, decrepit man. No matter, we thought we’d get The Queen a gift, so we headed to a health spa to get covered in mud and pond fungus, and discussed things. It boiled down to a toss up between some Taste the Difference beef burgers, or a clip of a rare rollerskating record from back in the day. In the end we got her both. Happy Birthday Queenie!

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  • Great British Band: Cream

    Cream, Sunshine of Your Love

    Cream were a supergroup made up of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. The modern day equivalent would be if, say, two members of Girls Aloud joined The Saturdays – that’s right, this was astonishing stuff. Above is their best song. And below is the superior cover by Spanky Wilson.

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  • Interestment’s Top Four: Funk Bands

    Some very well dressed men missed out…

    funkadelic

    The greatest thing about funk music is that it fools men – actual grown men – into believing that they can dance, regardless of the fact that they have never danced before. There’s the strong rhythmic beats, the snare hits, the horn stabs. All you need to do is somehow time your movements so that those noises correspond with a finger click, or a foot stomp. How hard can it be? Unfortunately, very hard, and what looks fantastic in the mind often appears appalling in real life, so while you think that the circle around you is cheering and whooping, just thank Christ that the loud music is drowning out their mocking laughter and mean under-breath comments. You don’t really look like a monkey being electrocuted. Our four favourite funk bands read like this…

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    1. The Meters

    the-meters

    For stripped down funk, you simply can’t do any better than these guys. They came from New Orleans in America, and a couple of members eventually went off and created The Neville Brothers, who weren’t nearly quite so brilliant. Great band.

    2. The JBs

    the-jbs

    The JBs, of course, get their name from being James Brown’s backing band. The line-up changed over the years, but featured at times: Bootsy Collins, Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, and Bootsy’s brother Catfish. Half the band eventually joined Parliament/Funkadelic. Here they are backing the amazing Marva Whitney.

    3. Eddie Bo and The Soul Finders

    eddie-bo

    Eddie is another one from New Orleans – a fantastic breeding ground for funk. His album Hook and Sling is a funk masterpiece, and below is the best track from it.

    4. Kool and The Gang

    kool-and-the-gang

    Don’t be fooled by Ladies Night and Celebration, there was a time when Kool and The Gang specialised in terrifying raw funk. Like so many edgy bands from the 1960s and 1970s, the 80s made them confusingly bad.

  • Tuesday Jazz: Roy Ayers

    Roy Ayers, Everybody Loves The Sunshine

    A lo, on the fifth day they listened to excellent jazz music. So says the bible according to Interestment. Today, the fabulous Roy Ayers channels the weather through his magnificent vibraphone.

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  • Happy Birthday Hannah Spearitt, here’s an early DJ set!

    Greg Wilson on The Tube, 1983

    For those scratching their heads, convinced this is some kind of weird April Fool, Hannah Spearitt is famous – she was the third best looking girl in S Club 7, the last one being that awful racist from the infamous series of Celebrity Big Brother, where everyone went all National Front to get the country talking about issues. Anyway, yes, she’s 27 today, so we thought we should get her a gift. We popped on some jim-jams, had a sexy pillow fight, then talked about what we should get. Half the lads wanted to get her some really excellent flip-flops for sunbathing season, while the rest of us insisted on a brilliant clip starring Jools Holland and electro legend Greg Wilson. In the end we got her both. Happy etc… Spearitt!

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  • Happy Birthday Herb Alpert, here’s your finest song!

    Herb Alpert, Rotation

    He turns 74 today, and like most toddlers, it seems Alpert hasn’t quite settled on what he wants to do when he grows up – he’s listed as a trumpeter, a composer, a singer, a record producer, a theatrical producer, a painter, a sculptor, an astronaut, a fireman, a cowboy, BA Baracus, a golden eagle, and a marine. The guy wants it all, which made deciding on a present double difficult – which, to those not in the know, is twice as difficult as normal. We talked long and hard, until it boiled down to a toss up between a chunky silver watch that looks expensive but is actually totally rubbish and quite cheap, or a video from 1979 of his most brilliant song. In the end we got him both. Happy Birthday Herb!

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  • Go bonkers everyone, it’s the 400th post!

    Right, now calm down…

    laughing-kids

    It’s been a long, hard road, but we’ve made it to the 400th post. Good for us. For those new to the site, welcome – please help yourself to great fashion advice, interesting thoughts about musical artwork, and, of course, gorgeous looking people. If you like, you can even enjoy a food and sport fix. It’s all there.

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    To those who have been with us from the start, thank you for your continuing support, and do join us for a celebratory picnic/barbecue when we make it to 500.

    Take it away James Brown!

  • Second hand bargain: A seven inch soul/funk classic

    One song for a thousand parties…

    foster-sylvers

    As with any crippling era of financial ruin, the music world is going to go through a massive surgical face lift. Gone will be your Lady Ga Ga (the one-woman Sigue Sigue Sputnik), replaced by troubled wanderers with two-stringed guitars and chewing tabacco. No more devaluing women in VIP sections, instead they will lament the loss of their labido, which can no longer reach cocaine and viagra proportions. It’s a sorry sorry time for discos. Which is why we go crazy for vinyl bargains! Just this weekend, excellent friend of the site, Stu, stumbled across a brilliant party record in his local Scope. “It’s a track by a kid called Foster Sylvers who was like a poor man’s Michael Jackson back in the 70s,” he began, before regaling us with tales of soul dancing, and listening to this particular tune on a mixtape cassette he used to own. “I’ve been after the single for ages,” he wept, finally drawing his extended Shakespearean monologue to a close. He is, however, completely right, it’s a great song. So come on, Stu-pot, how much for this excellent crowd pleaser? “50p”.

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    Amazing hitting-it-to-the-recession!

    Here’s the track:

  • Happy Birthday Chaka Khan, here’s Rufus and Chaka Khan!

    Rufus, Tell Me Something Good

    Our number one singing drummer Chaka Khan turns 56 today, and we totally love her. She’s probably our fifth or sixth favourite female soul singer, and that’s out of hundreds. Amazing. Hence, we simply had to buy her a gift. We sat in a circle smoking really strong pot to annoy that middle class mum who dobbed in her son, then finally got onto the subject of presents. Through a stoned haze, we decided to get her either some really nice toast, and a chocolate bar, and some Pringles. Ahh man, yeah, Pringles… or a clip of her performing with Rufus in the 1970s. In the end we got her both. Happy Birthday Chaka!

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  • Great British Band: Freeez

    Freeez, Southern Freeez

    As early 1980s jazz-funk bands go, Freeez were absolutely wonderful – as good as anyone American at that time. Above is their dancefloor classic, performed with a natural UK accent, which is refreshing.

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  • Listen to Interestment on Last FM!

    Anyone fancy a dance?

    dancers

    Last FM, to those who don’t know, is an excellent website where you can design your own radio show playlist. We’ve saved you the trouble by making up one of our own. Simply click here, listen, enjoy, and feel free to recommend any artists you think we might have overlooked.

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  • Happy Birthday Elizabeth Taylor, here’s a pretend robot!

    Talk Box Impression

    Elizabeth Taylor is presumably a very demanding woman, so when we heard that she was turning 76 today, we erupted into a spontaneous sweat. The room became very smelly, very quickly. What could we possibly buy for the woman who has everything? Literally everything. Look at all of the things you own. She has all of those. We argued long into the night, no one entirely sure what she might want, but it boiled down to a toss up between some spare headphones for her Walkman, or a video clip of a man pretending to be a vocoder. In the end we got her both. Happy Birthday Liz!

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    Can we call you Liz?

  • Interestment’s Top Four: Georges

    It’s a strong, valiant name

    george-michael

    We’ve already tackled the greatest Roberts to ever light up the silver screen, now it’s the turn of the Georges. Only, in this case, we’re not just limiting ourselves to the actors. We cast an astonishing magnifying glass over the history books, searching, scouring, foraging. Occasionally all at the same time. And there are many great Georges who didn’t even make the cut – Costanza, Michael, Washington, Clooney, Harrison. Plus, of course, “Boy”. These are the four that kept them out…

    1. George Carlin

    george-carlin

    Our love for George Carlin literally knows no bounds. Huge in America, he was barely known in Britain, probably most recognised for being in Bill and Ted – which is ridiculous, because he was a totally brilliant stand up comic. He was also the first man ever to host Saturday Night Live.

    2. George Foreman

    george-foreman

    Popstars-turned-actors – or the other way round – think they’re so clever. Look, we’re doing two jobs! But they pale in comparison to George Foreman. Completely pale. First he was a brilliant heavyweight boxer – famous for being the most feared and brutal puncher on the planet. Now he’s a cheerful father-of-ten, with a fantastic portable grill business. Amazing.

    3. George “Van” Morrison

    van-morrison

    Better known as Van Morrison, why he struck off the George bit we will never understand. Even so, all is forgiven, because his Irish brand of folk/soul is too great to ignore. Don’t believe us, then listen to this…

    4. Saint George

    saint-george

    Despite his flag now being synonymous with sneering racists – ironically, given that he is also the patron saint of Ethiopia, Greece, Palestine and Lithuania – you have to doff a small cap to Saint George. After all, he did go to battle with a dragon. Granted, over the years that may have been exaggerated a touch – he probably just trod on a toad. Still, he’s a saint.

  • Album covers analysed: Ohio Players, Honey

    Making album covers sexy since 1973

    ohio-players

    As funk bands go, the Ohio Players were great. Not wonderful or marvelous like James Brown, or The Meters. But they were a strong, tight group – they knew how to bring the funk. Their real strength, however, came with choosing album covers. While James Brown would always go for some kind of twisted self portrait, or The Meters pulled something relatively dire out of the bag, these guys knew how to make things seriously sexy. Previous albums Fire and Skin Tight had featured sensual pictures of foxy young women on the cover, then Honey upgraded the sexiness to fantastic levels. The lady in the picture is a Playboy playmate called Ester Cordet, and those lucky enough to own the record will know that it folds out to show her glorious bod in its entirety. The brief was simple: get a nice lady, and have her pouring honey on her face. The results: treeee-mendous.

    Listen to a couple of their greatest cuts after the jump…

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  • Happy Birthday Ice T, here’s a classic interview!

    Sly Stone, The Dick Cavett Show

    Rap legend Ice T turns 51 today, and the man literally has it all – marvelous clothes, a curvaceous woman in his bed, gold records. Hence we had no idea what to get him. It boiled down to a toss up between a second hand scarf, or a classic clip of Sly Stone outweirding Joaquin Phoenix on the magnificent Dick Cavett Show. In the end we got him both. Happy Birthday Ice!

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  • Great British Bands: Cymande

    Cymande, Fug

    As funk bands go, Cymande were absolutely up there with the best in the 1970s. Formed in London in 1971, they’re still going, and are still completely excellent.

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  • Album covers analysed: Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On

    Oh, there is lots going on

    marvin

    As statements of intent go, they don’t come much more potent and honest as the What’s Going On cover. To the naked eye, it mightn’t look radical – just another picture of a bearded guy in latex. But, should you flick back through your excellent collection of Marvin Gaye records before this 1971 release, you’ll notice that every single cover was shot in a nice clean studio, Gaye in a suit, and this is the first one featuring his trademark facial arrangement. Plus, if you really squint, you’ll notice the beads of cold rain in his hair, and spattered down the side of his gigantic jacket collars. That means that this iconic photograph was taken on a rainy day – no one ever takes iconic pictures on rainy days! Essentially Gaye is declaring the album sleeve unimportant, as, it seems, are his Motown bosses. The whisper on the street being that Berry Gordy – legendary record honcho – thought it was rubbish, which clearly explains the no-expense-spent sleeve. It went on to sell about a million trillion copies, of course, rainy-face cover or not.

    Enjoy a fantastic live performance after the jump…

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  • Great British Bands: Average White Band

    Average White Band, Work To Do

    These funkateers hail from sunny Scotland, and their band name was laced in delicious irony. A fantastic bunch with excellent beards.

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  • Interestment’s Top Four: Drummers that sing

    Sorry Collins, no room at the inn

    collins1

    It’s difficult to pinpoint the coolest area of a band. Is it around the frontman/woman? Or is it at the back with the mentalist thrashing around on the drums? One thing is for sure, wherever Phil Collins lays his hat, it isn’t there. And, Ringo couldn’t plump Lennon, Harrison, nor McCartney for cool points either. Some people, however, have managed to occupy the front of stage, and the back of house, and have sparkled in both areas. Here is a rundown of our favourite drummers-slash-singers…

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    1 Chaka Khan

    chaka

    We all knew that Chaka Khan was a whole hunk of woman, with a voice so sharp and funky that it could cut through concrete, but who knew she could play the drums excellently as well? The perfect wife.

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  • Happy Birthday Joe Pesci, here’s Stevie Wonder vocodering!

    Stevie Wonder on the Talk Box

    One of cinema’s greatest ever on-screen maniacs turns 66 today, so we thought we should probably get him something special. But what can you possibly buy the man who has it all? He’s already got an Oscar, an impenetrable haircut, the voice of a furious smurf. We discussed this one long into the night, staying awake by playing Judas Priest records and drinking tall skinny lattes, and it boiled down to some really lovely shoes, or a video clip of Stevie Wonder horsing around with a vocoder. In the end we got him both! Happy Birthday Pesci, you CLOWN!

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  • Great British Bands: The Pasadenas

    The Pasadenas, Tribute (Right On)

    Long before Duffy and Winehouse began looting Motown back catalogues for ideas, these guys were already at it. As pop/soul songs go, this one is an absolute belter, only slightly ruined by the band’s decision to dress up like cast members from Grease. An underrated pop group.

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  • Album covers analysed: Stevie Wonder, Music of My Mind

    Hey, check out the grown up!

    stevie-wonder

    In the early 70s, Stevie Wonder – the funny little blind kid who could play one heck of a harmonica – suddenly went all moody and started playing robotronic instruments like synthesizers and electronic mouth organs. How did the cutesy foot stomping prodigy do it? Was he really a robot? No he wasn’t, he did it by demanding that Mr Motown and his goons take him seriously as “an artiste”. Hence, this was his first album with total creative control – or second if you count Where I’m Coming From (which we don’t) – and he marked it with an album cover so dour, so straight faced, that young kids have been copycatting the look for their Facebook profiles ever since. The pensive seriousness of his face suggests that this is the work of an adult – an actual adult who’s just grown a beard. While the smiling pictures in his mirrored shades hint towards a cheerier side – they’re saying, “don’t fret, kids, it’s still me – Little Stevie!” Either way, it was the great man’s first brilliant record. The first of many.

    Enjoy a cut from the album after the jump…

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  • Album covers analysed: Luther, Luther

    Don’t be fooled by the cover…

    luther-luther

    Whoever first coined the phrase about not judging books by covers should also have pointed out that the exact same thing applies to records. By the 70s, album covers were abiding by certain rules – funk (at that time moving towards P-Funk) must be cartoonish, serious rock albums must be straight faced, soul records should include at least one gargantuan afro. Hence, the above soul cut, from 1976, flew in the face of convention – looking more like a Black Sabbath/Spinal Tap album, with the big gothic letters and creepy dark background. But, in reality, it was Luther Vandross’ first outing as the star of the show, albeit as a member of the band, Luther. At the time, he was more of a lardy backing vocalist for people like David Bowie and Chaka Khan, and this record didn’t propel him into the limelight – probably because tattooed maniacs picked it up expecting heavy metal, and got only smooth grooves and a syrupy vocal. It was, however, his first step towards the slimline, shiny haired, smoothie that we came to adore. A confusing record.

    Enjoy the opening number after the jump…

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