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Vist Daniel Lee Harvey's Profile


Funk is a sensation that can manipulate the best of us into a dreamy state of mind. Writers of the past and future have tried to craft the feeling into words but have failed to do so as it covers such a range within the music spectrum.

Let me begin our journey on a spacecraft, but not any piece of glittery scrap, it was the Mothership, a home to a master under the name George Clinton. He had created two new funk bands, one called Parliament and the other called Funkadelic. Clinton’s funk was a cocktail of genres, from jazz, rhythm and blues and early rock and roll. If you called it, George would have it twisted away somewhere, this method of music blending was known to him as P-Funk.  The term was also used to describe his repertoire of performers.

The P-funk mob moved off in all different directions, one of the P-Funk siblings William Bootsy Collins who was originally the bass player for the J.B’s (James Brown), started up a solo career in 1976. Bootsy had something unique to other performers and musicians; he created something that enabled people to experience the same as he did. In all of his performances, audiences were transfixed by the story-telling of his bass-playing.

They were staring upon someone who had the ability to teleport people to the deepest corners of space in order to unearth the true integrity of meaningful music.  Bootsy’s technique involved using lots of effect tones in order to invent a sound that would echo his persona. The bass was specifically crafted as a star as a piece of integral symbolism to his work.

When funk approximately started in the mid 60’s, it was aimed at a black demographic. With the Motown scene slowly rolling away in later years of this decade, funk was something that could potentially draw in audiences again.

Many artists such as Jackson 5 and Diana Ross adapted to disco/funk in order to accumulate more popularity again with their record labels. James Brown was arguably the first to break off the Motown sound to develop his own style. He demonstrated how the use of sax, scratching guitar riffs and groovy bass lines could become successful funk records.

This in itself was the instruction booklet to many other funk artists/groups to come. James Brown along with his music made up some iconic dance moves, his wild energy was in parallel with the musicianship of his band.

Funk songs of this time often spoke words of peace, love and understanding among people which is now often express within genres like hip-hop.  60’s and 70’s group Sly & the Family Stone will have to be the demonstrators to this way of song-writing as well as one of the first to integrate both women and men, both black and white. This was the key focus in their music, they did not shine away from political and social matters; they wanted to speak up during a time of segregation in America.

Most urban black people around in the 60’s were depleted to public house funding as it wasn’t available at the time; they were locked into ghettos. Music was one of the only mediums that allowed artists and bands to express how they were feeling about the world they were living in.

When the 70’s came along, black people were slowly gaining acceptance and the idea of merging into genres racially wasn’t such a daft idea after all.  Wild Cherry was one of the many all-white bands who emulated funk music. Their most famous hit ‘‘Play That Funky White Boy’’ was ironically the story of the group.

Wild Cherry started off as a heavy rock band and as it was the 70’s, people were demanding for disco and funk. The statement was accordingly said to the band by various club managers and punters when they were touring, so this was their answer.

‘‘Hey, Once I was a funky singer playin’ in a Rock and Roll Band
I never had no problems, yeah
Burnin’ down one night stands
And everything around me, yeah
Got to stop to feelin’ so low And I decided quickly (Yes I did)
To disco down and check out the show
Yeah, they was dancin’ and singin’ and movin’ to the groovin’
And just when it hit me somebody turned around and shouted
Play that funky music white boy
Play that funky music right
Play that funky music white boy
Lay down the boogie and play that funky music till you die’’

The band was spotted immediately by a music producer and offered to record an album with them in 1976 featuring this track; it was also the only track of Wild Cherry’s that made it into the charts. 

The 80’s in my belief was the decade when both white and black majorities were equally creating quality funk tunes. Rick James was one of the first to introduce funk to the dance masses. With the success of his album Come get it! Rick James decided that the combination of funk with a pinch of disco was the one to use when it came to tailoring funk to a large commercial market.

The funk influence continued all through to the late 80’s in the works of Zapp & Roger, Prince and Michael Jackson. Zapp & Roger’s Computer love fashions the talk box like a pro and to this day, it still remains one of the key instruments to funk and early hip-hop. The synth in Michael Jackson’s P.Y.T is what makes the track so memorable. With Prince, his stylistic moans and groans are heavily used over the track Head while the bass line illustrates the sexual vulnerability of a woman. Well, the earthiness of funk is long gone but that is only because the content of the decade has changed.

We as consumers are continuously changing our minds, media has a massive effect on us all and this also affects the way music is being made. More and more technology is being introduced for us to use, for example I’m typing this article on my laptop while listening to music on Spotify, and this just proves that I have automatic access to a whole range of genres and content. If it was the 70’s, it would be pen and paper and if I was lucky perhaps one of my parent’s Carpenters vinyl for gentle enrichment.

Back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, the asset of getting media hands-free was obsolete; there was no such thing as music downloads or online media interfaces as the internet was unavailable.  They had to wait until an artist or band released their material onto vinyl, tape or CD.
Did funk die on July 2nd 1979? Of Course Not

There is funk all around us, embedded as crumbs within different genres of today’s music, all it takes is one simple glance at the charts to see the way djs and music producers incorporate this dynasty into the artist and persona of an act, take Duck Sauce for example, they used a classic Boney M hit and rejuvenated it to today’s market. This is simply done by taking a memorable part of it and mixing it up with other instrumentals or speech. However nothing will beat the original, the one thing I have always exaggerated to friends and family of mine is… ‘‘in order to fully enjoy the future, you have to show admirations to the past’’ and that applies to anything the world offers us.

So the next time you hear a funk track playing on the radio, don’t feel ashamed because your friends at the back, who haven’t seen over the commercial wall, hate it, turn it up and jig to it.

If you’re finishing a day at college and you wish to let off steam with a 30 man killing streak on Call of Duty, change your mind with some Grand Master Flash.

If you’re walking in town with your iPod on and your earphones plugged and Michael Jackson plays. Don’t feel ashamed, because people have a corporal view of how society should act, do some Dancing in the Street.

Remember, there is a bit of funk in all of us; however it all depends on the person on how that funk is interpreted.



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