GOOD (AND FUNKY) THINGS are worth waiting for … but this is ridiculous! The fact remains that Scott Goldfine’s “Everything Is on the One: The First Guide of Funk” is more than 25 years in the making. Heck that predates the opening of Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It didn’t start out that way but sometimes life gets in the way of the best laid plans, and it does not help when ambition exceeds grasp. In this case the original concept was to create a comprehensive encyclopedia covering everything associated with funk music. That was then modified to focus on being an analytical guide to the genre, modeled after the Rolling Stone or All Music record review books. While some previously published works such as those included assessments of funk albums, it was far from their main focus and often the reviews were substandard. Plenty of other niches such as jazz, R&B, heavy metal and others had been given their due with dedicated tomes so why should funk get such short shrift? It was high time to end that injustice.
Funk is a bit tricky though, because seldom does any act produce an album in which every single song would be primarily categorized as funk. Rather, it is mostly artists that excel in making funky music and that ethic informs most if not all of their other creations. Therefore, describing a singer or band as a funk act can be a bit subjective, certainly more so than many other genres and especially for those not deeply entrenched in it. Furthermore, many artists and songs (from pop to rock to jazz to rap) are funk influenced even though they may not be widely viewed as such. Based on that, the initial intention was to write a book encompassing all those permutations — and that is what really delayed its completion.
Ultimately, relenting and allowing sanity to dictate the logic that no book can be all things to all people has allowed “Everything Is on the One: The First Guide of Funk” to finally be made available to the masses through Amazon in paperback or eBook formats. That is also thanks to the Internet, which was not even around when the writing of this book commenced (research was done the old-fashioned way, via books, libraries and hard study). Speaking of which, the music and media landscape has changed in myriad ways during the interim.
The compact disc (CD) was state of the art and you had to physically go into record or general merchandise stores to purchase them, just as music consumers had done for decades with vinyl albums and tapes. The Web and ecommerce, combined with the fading influence of terrestrial radio and music videos, changed all that as both new music discovery and shopping moved mostly online (including auction sites offering most any rarity). At first, that was just for CDs, but then as computing technology advanced downloadable MP3 files and other formats surged. The 21st century’s answer to the Walkman (cassette tapes), the iPod, became all the rage for millions of music listeners as they could now carry hundreds, even thousands of songs in their pocket. For many, smartphones have now supplanted iPods.
Most recently, streaming of music where songs and albums are accessed from servers in “the cloud” has made it possible to listen to virtually anything at any time so long as there is Internet connectivity. Likewise, video moved from videotape to DVD (digital video disc) to BluRay Disc to on-demand streaming, including YouTube where you can see and hear almost any studio and live music performance. Somewhere along the way, most folks also swapped VCRs (video cassette recorders) for DVRs (digital video recorders). Another significant development was the emergence of social media like Facebook and Twitter, which erased traditional barriers to engage musicians directly and instantaneously with their fans.
Commensurate with those technological and societal shifts, record labels milked their archives by flooding the marketplace with new compilations, boxed sets, remasters and reissues, and expanded or deluxe editions (usually with outtakes and alternate versions as well as new liner notes or other materials) of previously released albums. This was a windfall for funk aficionados new and old as many songs and LPs appeared on CD for the first time ever, making up for the great injustices of neglect black artists had suffered in the digital era. For a time, a lot of these CDs only came out overseas, typically in Japan, and U.S. supporters had to pay exorbitant prices. Even today, some American artists are better represented abroad than in their homeland.
That said, rather than attempting to update all of the new and reissued releases associated with the artists in this book and indefinitely delay its release further, allow the above to serve as a disclaimer of sorts. As well, it does not include several talented funk acts that have emerged since this book was assembled, such as Galactic, Freekbass, The Motet, Dumpstaphunk, the New Mastersounds, Danny Bedrosian, Lettuce and many others, nor more recent studio efforts by active veterans like George Clinton, Prince, Stevie Wonder or the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Simply suffice it to say anything by those newcomers or vets is well worth seeking out.
In the vast majority of cases, the reviews and references in “The First Guide of Funk” relate to those albums that were commercially available at the time of its writing. An additional disclaimer is that the author’s depiction of funk-related artists of the late 1960s to early 1970s does not fully reflect his subsequent continued exploration and appreciation of their body of work, particularly James Brown and Sly Stone.
Speaking of J.B., sadly he and a lot of important funk figures have passed on since this project took shape. They are way too numerous to mention, but include P-Funk’s Garry Shider, Ohio Players’ Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner and Marshall Jones, Earth, Wind and Fire’s Maurice White, Slave’s Mark “Drac” Hicks and Mark Adams, Michael Jackson, Rick James, Marvin Isley, Brothers Johnson’s Louis Johnson and Zapp’s Roger Troutman. Just after I wrote this, the one and only Prince also left this earth. Not long after that P-Funk keyboard genius Bernie Worrell ascended as well, as 2016 was proving to be a brutal year for funk losses.
It is important to remember the aforementioned factors and caveats as one pores through the content. When all is said and done, fortunately there’s still scores of vital works to be discovered, discussed and dissected. New editor notes have been inserted throughout the book to bring matters reasonably current (at least as of 2016). So watcha waiting for? It’s time to dig in and enjoy this no-longer endless epic.
Click on the link below to order it up for yourself today, and don’t forget it also makes the ideal gift for that music buff in your life. If you do check it out, please be sure to leave a (hopefully enthusiastic) review. At least the very least, give the free eBook sample available at Amazon a look. Thank you in advance for your interest and possible investment.
— Scott Goldfine