Category Archives: FUNK / FUNK ROCK

Dynamite – JAMIROQUAI – 2005

Warning: This here music is funky shit.

I’d never been a fan of Jamiroquai, partly because it seemed to be a vehicle for the lead singer’s ego (and the matching hat) and partly because that is a stupid try-too-hard name for a band…..any band.

Egomaniac……Jamiroquai is a band, not a solo project.

However, the music is unique. It’s basically a hybrid of Funk ,Jazz and Electronica packaged in a shiny pop packaging. Cynical? I’m not sure, ’cause the music is too damn good to be cynical. Yes, half the lyrics are often vapid, while the other half are about environmentalism, but the grooves are just so tight and danceable so as to preclude any illusions of it being manufactured.

Sample the first track “Feels like it should”. That’s a ruthless hunk of electro-dance-pop goodness, guaranteed to get thy booty moving. And while there are mis-steps on the way, it is quite remarkable that some 15 years after the first album, this band continues to put out funky, danceable music thats unique in the current pop landscape. Kudos.

As you would expect for such a band, the central instrument in Jamiroquai music is the electric bass. And their bassists have always been at the heart of Jamiroquai music. The multiple bassists on this album have managed electro-thump on “Electric Mistress” and “Feels like it should”. But they have also managed a slightly string-noise laden sound on some songs, notably “Dynamite” . Another significant element is the jazz. It ensures that the chord-changes sound nothing like the common-as-turds changes on electro-pop stuff like Kesha or the three chord ‘punk’ stuff that seems to relentlessly ruin conceptions of real music on the air these days. I certainly hope that Jamiroquai are more influential in the long run than that Fell Out of the Boy band, or whatever that is. Sadly, I’m pretty sure they won’t.  

Warning: This here is funky shit.

I'm not sure whether the members in this picture are the current members 'cause you know, I have never seem 'em.

The best tune on the album is undoubtedly “Don’t Give Hate A Chance”. It’s very danceable, and what a bassline! Also “Starchild”, which is driven by the bass and the ridiculously funky riffing of the Clavinet, is worth a listen.

Flaws? I do think lead singer Jay Kay could try, after so many years in the spotlight, to NOT sing like Stevie Wonder. He’s managed to escape ridicule so far on that account, but I do implore him to just try and step out of that rut. Also, there are some pretty weak tracks in “Black Devil Car” and “Talulah”. Avoidable.

In the final stretch of tallying points, however, this album continues to be from a band that defies categorization in mainstream music. Just check out some of their older hits, and you will see how their chord changes, vocal melodies and jazzy influences give them a space no other band occupies. For that reason alone, Jamiroquai deserves praise. This sounds right.

 - El Bajista

For more JAMIROQUAI reviews, go HERE.

For more FUNK/FUNK ROCK reviews, go HERE.


Graham Central Station – GRAHAM CENTRAL STATION – 1973

This is the Funk-Soul debut by uber-funk guru Larry Graham’s second (and arguably better) band, Graham Central Station. Being a bass player, I was extremely excited to see what GCS had to offer. I mean, Larry Graham invented slapping. How cool is that?

Very. Unfortunately, I can’t quite say the same thing for the album. It starts with an extremely well arranged a-capella with cheesy lyrics about the band waiting to play their songs. Not a bad start. As expected, the album is carried by Larry Graham’s dramatic and powerful bass-lines and singing. Speaking of which, I think he has one of the great voices of the 70’s and 80’s, which has sadly (but understandably, perhaps) been overshadowed by his status as a bass titan. It’s a powerful baritone that really fills a lot of space. Fantastic.

Better luck next time.

Better luck next time.

Speaking of the bass, Larry Graham’s tone is very different from today’s slap bass sound. You’d think it’d be like Flea, but less modern. But it’s VERY different. Much woodier, and not as steely. I like its ability of simultaneously hold a flatfootedly massive bottom end, while still venturing up the fretboard.

‘Hair’ is something of a landmark song. A classic bass riff that really gets the endorphins pumping carries the song, with Larry Graham’s baritone. Oh, and Chaka Khan is also AWESOME on this song- even though she is somewhat unsettlingly credited as ‘Chocolate’. Creepy. ‘We Be Getting Down’ is a terrible song by comparison, which amply showcases the downsides of lush arrangements and ornate singing by err….Chocolate. It’s used to cover up a lack of strong melody and lack of a strong groove. This is a recurring problem with this album. Chill out with the messy wall of sound, dude. I was actually relieved at the guitar solo in ‘People’, ‘cause the overly lush arrangements dropped out for a while.

Legend! :D

Legend, despite this not very strong album

The album should have been more sparsely arranged; I find too many voices, guitars, keyboards and horns jostling for space. Being Graham’s band, the bass towers over anything and everything, but that kinda leaves the rest of the arrangements a bit muddy. There’s too much counterpoint going on. It detracts from some strong melodies.

The best songs are dominated by the bass, thus subverting layer upon shitty layer of horns, keys and guitars i.e. ‘Hair’ and ‘Ain’t No fun to me’. I was expecting great things and fresh inspiration, but I got none, apart from these two songs, both of which I already knew. I say, download these two songs only, and spare yourself the trouble of sifting through some of the other gilded crap that does not sound right.

- El Bajista

For more of LARRY GRAHAM doing Christian Propoganda, click HERE. (Nothing else done yet.)

For more guys slapping a bass with an open E-String, click HERE.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 478 other followers

%d bloggers like this: