YEAR RELEASED: 1980
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: Strangling Me with Your Love
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Doubtful
LINEUP: Joseph Bowie, Martin Aubert, Kelvyn Bell, Byron Bowie, Ronnie Burrage, Teddy Daniel, Martin Fisher, Janos Get, Melvin Gibbs, Michael Heisman, Charles Shaw, Clarice Taylor
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Deep, experimental funk / jazz / soul combo that was ahead of its time and probably too eccentric for mainstream audiences.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The basic guitar and bass lines are funk based, as are the basic rhythms, so you may think this is normal funk – then Defunkt gets going and you realize the lead guitar is definitely jazzy, the vocals and melody are odd, there are some polyrhythms going, the horns aren’t playing simple soul charts all the time, the synth is going a bit out there – and then you realize the time signature isn’t just rote 4/4.
Yeah, in one Defunkt song a lot of stuff is going on. You have to pay attention to a lot or you’ll miss it. So casual listeners may just turn off or give up. Nothing is straight forward, and this wouldn’t fit well against disco or straight R&B on the radio – definitely not on rock radio.
So…it’s not for everyone. Sometimes they kind of stretch out and experiment a little too much. The continuity of the song gets missing. However, for an adventurous listener who loves the funk, it’s definitely worth a spin.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Joseph Bowie, the leader, is the younger brother of noted avant-garde jazz trumpeter Lester Bowie.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A two-fer CD with their second album adds “Razor’s Edge” – a single released between albums.
GRADE: B+: They’re definitely not an ‘easy’ listen – not straightforward, but for an adventurous funk fan, this will do.