Wednesday, October 24, 2007


The track "Soul Makossa" was a hit for Manu Dibango in early 1973. After it was issued, a lot of folks sought to cover it -- most badly. But, in this case, that single track spawned a band of studio musicians hell bent on creating not only a club and jukebox 45 hit of the Dibango original, but an entire set of groove-driven instrumentals that could be issued as 45s for the juke market. Afrique, which was comprised of organist Charles Kynard, guitarist David T. Walker, bassist Chuck Rainey, Joe Kelso and Paul Jeffery on saxophones, drummer Ray Pounds, and a host of percussionists including Chino Valdes and baritone honker Steve Kravitz. There were 13 members in all for this one-off. So the deal is simple: this LP, the only Afrique title, is a hell of a slab of lost funk. Sure, there's a groovin' greasy version of the title track, but the real magic lies in the wah-wah excess, saxist angst, and drunken, careening rhythms.

"House of the Rising Funk" opens with a wicked drum break and never relents. It has been sampled by Coldcut ("Beats and Pieces"), Geto Boys ("Damn It Feels Good to Be A Gangster"), Schooly D ("Black"), and Too Short ("I Want to Be Free"), among others. A true cratedigger's classic.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Great stuff. I bought a copy of this at a yard sale as a teenager in the 1970s. I remember "House of Rising Funk" especially well. Back then, I was mostly into rock, but I have not forgotten that track or the band name in all the years since. Pure gold.

You can currently listen to the album via Grooveshark, here:!/profile/Afrique/22322369

(If that link changes, just go to grooveshark and search for the band name or the name of one of their tracks, such as 'House of Rising Funk.')