The Black Hippies was uploaded to Flickr

a vinyl re-release of the mid-70s debut album of a Nigerian funk band. From Reckless Records.

Rough Trade has this to say about it:
High quality reissue of great and unbelievably rare Afro Rock Lp. Appeals to fans of Psych, Fuzz, African, and Funk. Licensed directly from Pazy (Band Leader, Lead Singer and Guitarist). Pazy (real name Joseph Etinagbedia) started playing music in the Fire Flies in the city of Warri in Nigeria in 1973. The area was in the midst of an oil boom, and like most bands on that scene, the Fire Flies played American and European pop hits mixed with Jazz and Highlife for the largely expat audiences in local clubs. Along with an influx of foreigners, the oil boom also gave rise to an emerging Nigerian youth market, and soon Pazy formed the Black Hippies to play the uniquely African style of hard rock that was favoured by this new audience. They quickly found success and were appearing alongside other Warri-based artists such as Tony Grey. In short time, they came to the attention of EMI and their legendary producer Odion Iruoje, who recorded this album. By the time it was released in 1977, though, Disco and Funk were starting to take over and the hard fuzzy rock of The Black Hippies first album was somewhat behind the times. As a result, the album was barely released and is now virtually unfindable, unseen by all but a few of the most hardcore collectors. Pazy would go on to form a new line up of the Black Hippies that played mostly Reggae but this remains by far the best album. Featuring whiplash funk drumming, searing fuzz guitar, raw vocals and that uniquely West African organ sound, The Black Hippies first album is a definitive classic of the genre. Beautifully remastered with restored artwork, this release stands alongside our Ofege and Psychedelic Aliens releases as restored gems from a largely unknown but incredibly vital Rock scene in 70’s West Africa.

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I took The Black Hippies on June 07, 2014 at 02:46PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 07, 2014 at 08:37PM

2013 Year End Reviews – Johnny “Guitar” Watson – What The Hell Is This?

Johnny “Guitar” Watson – What The Hell Is This?

Rating: B


One of the albums I got for next to nothing as mentioned here, but it is surprisingly listenable. A couple of dud tracks, some silly songs, but some good funky, R&B-based slinky blues contained herein too. I bet you could find a used copy for next to nothing…

Texas Thunder Soul

Director Mark Landsman totes his cameras to a tight-knit North Houston community in this poignant documentary, which celebrates an inner-city high school bandleader’s lasting influence on his now-grown students.

via Netflix

And a repost from my old blog, thanks to a question from Beth

The calendar year isn’t over yet, but as of today, my favorite album of the year is a compilation of high school marching band music from Kashmere High School in Houston, TX, recorded by their band director, Conrad O Johnson in the years 1968 – 1974. I wish my high school band funked as hard. I’m looking at you, Beth.

In fact, I wish I knew of some contemporary bands that funked as hard. Wow. Hard not to dance in one’s chair when the songs pulse out of one’s speakers. We mentioned the release of this compilation a few months ago, and I bought the CD within the week, of course.

Texas Thunder Soul 1968-1974
“Texas Thunder Soul 1968-1974” (Kashmere Stage Band)

NPR/KUT-Austin recently broadcast a small article, with some song samples:

At first, judges didn’t know what to make of the kids from Kashmere in their platform shoes and matching crushed-velvet suits. Their impeccably choreographed moves were more James Brown than high school big band, and the music was often an original funk composition by Johnson himself.

But KSB was soon winning national championships, and a larger-than-life reputation as undefeatable. For 10 years, even with constant changes in the lineup as kids graduated, KSB was considered by some to be not only the nation’s best stage band, but one of the best funk bands — period.

Between 1968 and 1978, KSB recorded eight studio albums. As Johnson neared retirement in 1978, the band broke up, and before long, the band was largely forgotten. But not by everyone. Kashmere’s recordings became prized by hip-hop producers and DJs, who sampled them and played them in clubs.

Highly recommended.

Kashmere stage band2 Kashmere stage band1

Bombay Funk Thrillers


The Funk is So Rubber

“The Bombay Connection, Vol. 1: Funk From Bollywood Action Thrillers” (Various Artists)

The Bombay Connection showcases the sound of the Indian action film of the late 70s and early 80s. Under the influence of films like Shaft and Dirty Harry a new kind of though Indian action film came into being in 1970s India. To match the loud fights and fast chases Indian composers developed a exciting brand of Bollywood funk. Wah-wah guitars, congas and funky moogs were effortlessly blended with tablas, dhols and Indian melody lines. This album compiles 12 (sic) of the best, incredibly original Bollywood Funk grooves, painting scenes of frantic chases through back streets in Bombay, secret plots conceived in subterarian headquarters by fake-moustached vilains and sexy seductive dances by female spies. The 6 panel digipack comes with a colorful 32 page booklet containing well researched info and a wealth of pictures.

the booklet is cool too, full of stills from the Bollywood Thrillers we’ve never even heard of, and a plethora of details about each obscure track.

In this first volume, we dig into the funky, bell-bottomed sounds of Indian action film music form the 1970s and 1980s. We have selected 13 tracks from the golden era of Indian funk, almost all from films that failed at the box office in their time and that are therefore hardly remembered, even in India. … But all of these films – along with the obligatory family drama scenes, comedy sequences and love songs – contained violent and kinky scenes that satiated the public’s thirst for action and sex and set the stage for the exciting funk tunes presented here.

Fun stuff, especially since the music was apparently recorded live in one take, without over-dubs. An amazing feat, since the tunes often shift tempo abruptly, heading into new directions, presumedly to follow the action projected on the screen.

Update: a great album. I’ll have to look for Volume 2.

Barack Obama’s Victory Soundtrack

“Chocolate City” (Parliament)

Can’t go wrong with George Clinton in his prime…

In a refreshing sign that math and hope can just get along, Barack Obama predictably sewed up the delegate count on Tuesday night and defeated Hillary Clinton in what turned out to be a long, contested Democratic primary. And now, for the first time ever, a black man is on track to inhabit the White House, fulfilling Parliament-Funkadelic’s dream of turning Washington, D.C. into Chocolate City.

Unfortunately for P-Funk’s iconoclastic frontman George Clinton — no relation to Hillary or Bill, for you squares in the house — Reverend Ike Turner and Richard Pryor have passed away, and are unable to fill the positions of Secretary of the Treasury and Minister of Education. (Clinton invented the latter.)

Similarly, Muhammad Ali and Aretha Franklin will have to forego their positions as President and First Lady, as Barack and Michelle Obama will be handling those duties. Which leaves only Stevie Wonder to fill Clinton’s other invented position, Secretary of Fine Arts.

[From Barack Obama’s Victory Soundtrack | Listening Post from]

Obama apparently likes classic 70s soul, that better include funk too. Don’t get me wrong, I like Stevie Wonder, but Parliament/Funkadelic/James Brown are a lot more fun to groove too, with the bonus that (seemingly) nearly half of all hip-hop songs borrowed beats from this trinity. Throw in Sly and the Family Stone, a little Fela Kuti for international flavor, and we’re talking a party, ya’ll! Whoo hoo!

Shadow History of Funk


What It Is! Funky Soul And Rare Grooves (1967-1977)
“What It Is! Funky Soul And Rare Grooves (1967-1977)” (Various Artists)

Good funk never gets old. Start playing the Meters, or Curtis Mayfield, or Sly and the Family Stone at your next party, and watch the mood change to ebullience. Funk also has the side benefit of being ‘acceptable’ driving music for D and myself.

Various Artists: What It Is!: Pitchfork Record Review
It’s rather nice to have one, well-documented place to go for such a huge range of funk and soul tracks, and Rhino has taken advantage of it, consolidating things even further to compile what amounts to, as Oliver Wang says in his lead-in essay, a “shadow history of funk.” These aren’t the songs that blew up the charts, though you may have heard a few of them– Curtis Mayfield’s “(Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below We’re All Gonna Go” or Wilson Pickett’s “Engine Number 9”, for instance.

There are names that pop up throughout the generous track notes, and two of the most common are the twin giants of New Orleans r&b: Allen Toussaint and the Meters, who often worked as Toussaint’s house band. Both are represented with their own tracks, but Toussaint penned a further seven, and at least a couple of Meters turn up on six tracks credited to other artist. The best of these is a full-on Meters romp, Cyrille Neville’s 1970 killer “Gossip”, The song opens with a towering “coral sitar” guitar riff from Leo Nocentelli that injects a heavy does of psychedelia to accent the rock-hard beat.

A few tracks later, you get a real sitar, courtesy of Ananda Shankar’s cover of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”. Shankar was nephew to Ravi, and sold a truckload of LPs grafting virtuoso sitar playing onto psychedelic pop; “Metamorphosis” is the funkiest track from his self-titled LP, but “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” is more immediate. On the less frivolous end of things is “Headless Heroes” by Eugene McDaniels, from his political funk opus Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse, a record Spiro Agnew personally requested be withdrawn in spite of the fact that almost nobody heard it. When McDaniels refers to us all as “racial pawns in the master game” and asserts that “the player who controls the board sees them all as the same/ Basically cannon fodder,” you know he means it.

Paranoia rears its head on the dark funk of Baby Huey & the Babysitters’ “Hard Times”, an icy ghetto soul track with a chilling, guitar-soaked intro and lyrics about being held up by someone you thought you trusted. Baby Huey is one of many artists here worth investigating further– including the Meters, Curtis Mayfield, Wilson Pickett, Harlem River Drive, Mongo Santamaria, Fred Wesley, King Curtis, and Bobby Byrd. There are, however, a number of artists for whom further investigation is damn near impossible. More than a quarter of the bands included here never released a full-length album, so the Houseguests’ “What So Never the Dance” is pretty much it. This is where the value of a set like this really comes into sharp relief– Tony Alvon & the Belairs’ groover “Sexy Coffee Pot” has never been easier to come by than it is with this on the shelves.

and from the Amazon listing:

Too many reissue compilations are content to merely slice ‘n’ dice familiar catalog choices in not particularly original ways. But this four-disc, 91-track trove of obscure ’70s R&B and funk from Warner-distributed labels great and small argues there’s still treasure to be gleaned from studio vaults–a five-hour groove-fest that’s as interested in shaking booty as in opening ears. Even the genre’s groundbreaking usual suspects (Wilson Pickett, the Bar-Kays, Curtis Mayfield, Earth, Wind & Fire, et al) are represented by selections that aren’t immediately familiar, while Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin serves up a radically different, previously unreleased take of “Rock Steady.” Still other stars contribute their sonic touches to some of the lesser-known cuts, as witnessed by the patent trippiness of Sly Stone alter-egos 6ix and Stanga on “I’m Just Like You” and “Little Sister,” respectively; the stark, party-not-so-hearty contrast of the Mayfield-written-and-produced “Hard Times” by Baby Huey & Baby Sisters; and the Meters’ version of “Tampin’,” released under the moniker of the Rhine Oaks.

Sequenced in rough chronological order, it’s a savvy window into a musical evolution as well, with the rhythmic guitars, organ swells, and horn flourishes of traditional ’60s R&B giving way to sinewy synths and increasingly chunky bass lines as the decade grooves on. While savvy hip-hoppers will note that many of the rarities here have already been repurposed by shrewd mixers, it’s a revelation to hear them in their original form. A compelling deconstruction of an often clichéd and too-narrowly-defined genre, this is an anthology that showcases music that has influenced such contemporary artists as Tupac, the Beastie Boys, Snoop Dogg, and Kanye West, annotated by many of the original musicians who set the dance floor in motion.

Fela Kuti in London

Mike noticed that today was the 10 anniversary of the magnificent Fela Kuti’s death. There are only a few deceased musicians I would have really liked to have met in person, Fela was one. Most musicians are really just ordinary people who happen to make interesting (or not) music, Fela was more.

The Best Best of Fela Kuti
“The Best Best of Fela Kuti” (Fela Kuti)

You cannot have too much Fela in your house.

Ben Ratliff wrote (in 2000):

Album of the Week – New York Times:
FELA KUTI: ”Shakara/Fela’s London Scene” (MCA). For a foreign musician who didn’t have a serious audience stronghold in the United States during his life, MCA’s reissue program of Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s 1970’s and 80’s records — there will be 10 CD’s by the end of the year — borders on extraordinary.

This, the first of the CD reissues, combines two early 1970’s records by Nigeria 70, which is what the Nigerian band leader called his ensemble after returning from a nine-month American stay in 1969.

Fela absorbed James Brown wholesale — the scrubbed rhythm guitar over drum patterns, the intermittent horn-section bursts, the leader’s hectoring vocal cries as he directed the band to change rhythm, ushered in choirs, played keyboards. But there is more to it than that. This music stays with single ideas even longer than Mr. Brown’s most truculent stretches, and Fela’s intensity is broader: the music was a political platform as well as an emotional one.

The percussion, the seat of both men’s music, is entirely different: some of the funkiest sections of Fela’s long tunes like ”Who’re You” and ”Fight to Finish” rely on combinations of Tony Allen’s waxing-and-waning drum kit patterns and an array of shakers, congas and tapped wood and metal. (Making the cultural exchange come back around, Mr. Brown, who visited Lagos in 1970, borrowed from Fela in return, as examined in Michael Veal’s forthcoming book

Fela: The Life and Times of an African Musical Icon
Fela: The Life and Times of an African Musical Icon

A word for Mr. Allen, the band director during this period of Fela’s career: he can’t be beat. Everything he does here is spread out, spacious, an inversion of tight, popping American funk patterns. On these records he uses toms as American funk drummers used cymbals and vice versa, and the incredible drama in the space between the music’s slithering quiet moments and its climaxes is due in large part to his great skill.

Really, can’t go wrong with these albums. Play one at your next party, about an hour from when the party starts grooving. You’ll see what I mean.