Home of the International Funk Out – Various Artists (2017)

By Scott Goldfine

Originating from the Mile-High City of Denver, the syndicated radio show A Funk Above The Rest has been a strong and effective advocate for funk music. Host Skip The Funktologist has partnered with Serious Music Group and Sparkx Radio Network to release a CD/download called “Home of the International Funk Out.”

The release showcase’s the influence funk has had on the worldwide music scene for decades. The music connects the past with the present and the present with the future. Since its inception during the mid-1960s from Soul Brother #1 James Brown, and right up to current superstar Bruno Mars, the funk genre is still relevant today even though mainstream media has minimized its exposure to public platforms. Many artists from around the world continue to write, record, perform, and produce their own versions of funk. With this project, Skip and Co. has set out to share these evidences.

It is fun how the set is presented in a radio show-like style with voiceovers from Skip and some of the artists themselves. It’s a solid listen throughout that consistently keeps the beats moving (no ballads here!). However, I believe hardcore funkateers will glom more toward a select few and even find a couple of cuts rather pedestrian. From that perspective, top highlights from the 16 songs include: “We Rock the Funk” (The P Funk Outlawz);  “Something Better to Do” (Mutiny); “Fame” (James Douglas); “Initial B.C.” (Woddyfunk); “Good Life” (Seven Eleven); and “Stowaway (on the Mothership)” (Doug Jackson). That said some of the others could be growers and there is not an outright dud to be found.

Background on some of the contributing artists includes …

Eric “EQ” Young: Master of the stage, performer for the soul, Young is known for his ability to fire up concert crowds with high-energy passionate vocals and funky bass beats. This consummate musician has a long history of opening for, playing with and being signed by established names in the business. Today, he confirms his place among the constellation of great Bay Area funk stars as the stellar bass player for the present configuration of Con Funk Shun. Here, he contributes “Dance With Me.”

Brent Carter: Among the most criminally unsung singers of soul – a man who has been the lead singer for both R&B super bands Tower of Power and the Average White Band, plus sang the Maurice White vocal parts for Maurice Hines’ shortlived Earth Wind & Fire on Broadway musical, “Hot Feet.”  From the time he was a child Carter has worked in national traveling theater shows, sung radio commercial jingles and was a featured background singer for Regina Belle and BeBe & CeCe Winans. Now, the New York native is embarking upon his first foray into recording/performing as a solo artist. That journey begins here with his clever, catchy and flirtatious debut single, “So Smooth.”

Jerome “Bigfoot” Brailey: Listed as one of Rolling Stone’s top 100 greatest drummers, his credits include pounding the skins for hit-making groups such as the Chambers Brothers, Five Stairsteps (including the hit “Ooh Child”), and of course Parliament-Funkadelic where he kept time on many tracks through the mid-1970s including co-writing “Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Of The Sucker).” Brailey’s current project with his band Mutiny is sampled on this compilation as “Something Better to Do.”

Woddyfunk: Hailing from Japan, she is one of the few female talkboxers in the world. With a healthy and pure appetite for funk, she brings an electrifying presence to any song she records or performs. Well established in her home country, her track “Initial B.C.” is a powerful statement to the fact that funk has effectively reached distant parts of earth.

Seven Eleven: For more than 27 years, this premier Netherlands funk band has played and recorded with funk-related artists such as Fred Wesley (James Brown, Parliament), Gary “Mudbone” Cooper (Parliament, Bootsy’s Rubber Band), Dawn Silva (Brides of Funkenstein), Jeanette Washington (Parlet), Mike “Moon” Rueben (Bernie Worrell and the WOO Warriors) and Louis Johnson (Brothers Johnson). Their song “Good Life” was chosen to grace this compilation.

Platypus: One of the many bands from (Funk City) Dayton, Ohio. With the success of groups like the Ohio Players, Lakeside, Slave, Sun, Heatwave, and Roger Troutman & Zapp, it appears Platypus should have shared similar results. But it didn’t happen. It’s certainly not for the lack of good material. There are several radio-worthy tracks from their 1979 debut release. The compiler of the music on this compilation felt that even though the song “Love The Way You Funk” was recorded and released well over 35 years ago, it deserves exposure it never received.

“Home of The International Funk Out” was released April 14, 2017, first to download and streaming services with the later promise of physical CDs for purchase. The set includes major as well as independent artists from around the globe offering songs to reflect the effects of funk. Kudos to Skip The Funktologist for keeping the funk alive!