1) “Brick House,” Commodores (1977)
This torrid smash showed that the group could still create a down-and-dirty dance groove after their easy-listening smash, “Easy.” Written by the whole band like it was some kind of romp, it features a randy style with lead vocalist Walter “Clyde” Orange almost smacking his lips. Those lips complement a rather raucous rhythm track. The nasal slur of Orange’s vocal on the words “brick” and “house,” not only calls us to the dance floor to this day, but has actually entered the pantheon of pop-cultural colloquial speech patterns.
2) “Tear the Roof Off the Sucker (Give Up the Funk),” Parliament (1976)
Inspired by Berry Gordy’s Motown factory, Detroit citizen George Clinton assembled a collective of musicians that became the grand architects of funk. Parliament blended Sly Stone and James Brown with freaky costumes and trippy live shows, and from its inception in 1970 until the dissolution in 1980, Parliament created a hardcore funk scene to challenge the slick disco then dominating the charts. On this production, Clinton crammed every imaginable sonic element into the recording elevating the P-Funk collective to an unparalleled level of funkdom, a zenith still being felt in today’s world of rap.
3) “Dazz,” Brick (1976)
Long before Babyface and Bobby Brown arrived to the city, Altanta’s R&B music scene was represented by Brick who, along with the S.O.S. Band, took this southern city into the funk era. Comprised of college students with a great love for jazz, Brick became a funk aggregate, and the catchy hook of this song caught fire in the disco era. The record stood out from the familiar-sounding disco groove of its day because Brick defined a distinctive blend of funk and disco that they called “disco jazz.”
4) “Fire,” Ohio Players (1975)
Both a #1 R&B and pop hit, the song took shape out of a jazzy instrumental jam, developing into a bone-crunching groove where rock and funk merged. The irresistible one-word chorus and the unforgettable percussion breakdown were, as they band would say, skin tight.
5) “Express Yourself,” Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band (1970)
Discovered by Bill Cosby, Wright’s groove-and-funksters from the Watts district of Los Angeles built their reputation on some of the funkiest bass lines of the ’70s. While performing on stage at Texas A&M one day, Wright began running out of things to say, and so, to keep the performance going, he repeated the phrase “express yourself” over and over. The students went wild, so Wright built a song around it in his hotel room that night.
6) “Make It Funky,” James Brown (1971)
Recorded with the JB’s, this was James Brown’s first recording and #1 hit for his new label, Polydor. Beginning with Bobby Byrd’s immortal question, “What you gon’ play now” and Brown’s response, “I don’t know, but whatso’ever I play, it’s got to be funky,” Brown established a new sound that would dominate R&B into the ’80s.
Six great reasons for sure! Available from PopKrazy today!