No To Co (in English something like ’so what’) was a folk, skiffle and psych rock combining band from Poland that had a certain funky twist in their music. The band was formed in the late 1960s by Piotr Janczerski, the former lead vocalist of the group Niebiesko-Czarni. Their first public appearance was in a television program called Po szóstej (’after six’), although they didn’t even have a name yet. They soon decided to call themselves Grupa Skifflowa No To Co (skifflowa mean skiffle music), or shortly just No To Co. They started as a band that combined traditional Polish folklore to a skiffle music but after the guitarist Jerzy Grunwald left the band in 1971 and lead singer Piotr Janczerski in the following year they started to move more and more psychedelic hard rock and at the same time lose they popularity. Skiffle is a type of music that started to popularize in New Orleans in the 1940s and 1950s. It’s music played with homemade or improvised instruments - such as combs, washing boards and pots as well as banjos, harmonicas and kazoos - and it has influences from jazz, blues, folk and roots.
The album No to co was released in USSR on national label Melodiya in 1973. I’m not sure when it was released in Poland and what name it had there since all the titles here are in Russian. The first track “Червона рута” (Chervona ruta) is a nice vocal psych track with nice drums and a groovy organ solo in the end. “По ту сторону озера” (Po tu storonu Ozera) instead is a downtempo, more simple track, but still has very funky drums and nice organ work. It’s followed by “Играй, что умеешь” (Igraĭ, chto umyeesh), a midtempo seven minute instrumental psych funk monster that starts with a short break and has several different breaks all over the songs. It reminds me strongly of certain Santana tracks from way back. Then comes the funky vocal psych number “Зеленый мосточек” (Zelenyĭ mostochek) followed by another vocal track, flute driven “Зеленая лужайка” (Zelenaya luzhaĭka). Then after the short polka track comes another two pretty decent tracks. The midtempo “Дими” (Dimi) and the uptempo beat track “Год тебе не пишу” (God tebe ne pisu)” with it’s nice organ work followed by the last track, the heavy vocal number “В боскресенье” (V voskresene).
Daniel Salinas, a pianist, composer, arranger and conductor from Sao Paolo, Brazil, apparently released only two albums in the early 1970s. His debut was an album of Brazilian sambas called Paz amor e samba released in 1972. After that album he was heading more and more into the world of jazzfunk sounds and the second album of Salinas called Atlantis was released in 1974. It was totally different than the first album. Funky horns, strings, flutes and Rhodes sounds remind time to time of some great blaxploitation soundtracks.
There’s still plenty of variety on Atlantis. There’s mellow downtempo tracks like the opening title “Like a rainy night”. It’s acoustic guitar and percussion driven mellow start is actually quite nice before turning into an even nicer uptempo breakbeat groover in the middle and then again returning to it’s mellowness towards the end. The next one, “No broken heart”, is exactly what it sounds like, a melancholic and moody downtempo track. Then comes “Baiao”, an uptempo jazzy groover with a quite heavy strings. In my opinion it could’ve been a great track but the strings are occasionally way too disturbing for my taste. Next up is the best track on this album, a nice uptempo breakbeat driven version of Richard Strauss Jr.’s masterpiece “Also sprach Zarathustra” here renamed as “Straussmania”. With it’s guitar melodies (familiar from 2001 Space oddity), nice bassline and bboy friendly drums it belongs to my all time favorite takes of this much covered song. Remember the Deodato version? This one works even better for me. After that comes yet another cover, a slow and moody but at the same time very groovy seven minute version of Simon & Garfunkel’s hit “Bridge over troubled water”. “A song for a helping hand” is again a melancolic downtempo track similar to “No broken heart”. Last one, the title track “Atlantis” (a cover of a Donovan song) is again a downtempo song with a certain sadness in the beginning, but in the middle it changes into a nice groovy tun with quite a heavy drums.
Compared to what he has done during his long career, Ankara based Turkish composer, arranger, conductor, producer and guitarist Mustafa Özkent is still relatively unknown to the big world. He started his career as early as in 1960 in a pop group called The Teenagers. At some point in the early 1970s he formed his own orchestra, simply named Mustafa Özkent ve Orkestrası (Mustafa Özkent and Orchestra). In 1973 the first album Gençlik Ile Elele (in English Hand in hand with youth) was released and the second album Elif was released in 1975. They also released two 45s (in 1972 and 1974). During that time in 1975 – 1976 Özkent was studying in the Academie D’e music D’ixelles in Brussels. For a short period in 1976 his close friend and a fellow Turkish musician Baris Manço was also spending time in Brussels. In 1976 he was also working in a big band for the Montreal Olympic Games as an arranger and guitarist. During his career Özkent has been an in-demand session guitarist, arranger and conductor and has worked closely with numerous Turkish musicians and band including his close friends Baris Manço, Okay Temiz and Mogollar. And he has still been active throughout the 2000s.
For his new orchestra, he called in organist Umit Aksu (later of Aksu Orkestrası fame), second guitarist Cahit Oben as well as two drummers and a percussionist (not mentioned anywhere). Özkent himself played the lead guitar naturally. In 1972 the freshly founded independent label Evren had heard about Özkent and decided to give him a shot to do an fully instrumental album wit mixture of jazz, psychedelic rock, funk, traditional Anatolian sounds and new stereo effects. The album was recorded with a live take but some effects were added later.
In those days, outside the core of Western musical culture, an instrumental album with somehow psychedelic improvisations was never called “psychedelic”, more labelled as A Go-Go, often dance rhythm related item. Acid jazzrock was more often one influence for such music.
Gençlik Ile Elele is clearly the funkiest of all anatolian rock albums that ever came to my ears. With it’s heavy drumming, hard grooving organs, funky Anatolian melodies and of course the large amount of breaks it belongs to my all time favorites. The album starts with a heavy midtempo funker “Üsküdar’a Giderken. It’s followed by the massive “Burçak Tarlaları” that starts with a huge break and continues as a heavy Anatolian funk track with some traditional melodies and psychedelic electric guitar work. There’s even an another heavy break in the end. Next one is called “Dolana Dolana”. It’s an uptempo heavy funker with some electric guitar and organ melodies and a huge break in the beginning. Then comes “Karadır Kara”, another midtempo track that starts with a percussive break and the same break pops up few times during the track. Next one is again a midtempo psychedelic funk track called “Emmioğlu”, starting with a break and having the heavy electric guitars there too. The first track on side b is “Çarşamba”, again a heavy midtempo funker. Next up is one of my favorites, “Zeytinyağlı”, an uptempo breakbeat funker with electric guitar melodies and short breaks every now and then. Then comes another midtempo one called “Silifke” with sound very similar to the rest of the album. Fourth track on side b is “Lorke”, another uptempo track with a slightly different and more straight forward beat than the others. Last one is the very hectic, almost batucada sounding “Ayaş”. And for the last words, the album cover.. what’s happening in there?
1946 born saxophone player Eero Koivistoinen is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in Finnish jazz scene. He has done a long career as a musician, composer, arranger, conductor and producer. His career started in the mid 1960s in an orchestra playing experimental avant-garde jazz. The first solo album of Eero Koivistoinen was a concept album of poems by well known Finnish poets sung by well known Finnish singers Eero Raittinen, Vesa-Matti Loiri and Seija Simola. That album was called Valtakunta (The Kingdom in English) and it was released in 1968. In the beginning of 1070s Koivistoinen moved to the United States to study in the famous Berklee College of Music in Boston for three years. After almost 50 years and dozens of albums he’s still an active character playing with the next generation of Finnish jazz cats today.
In 1973 was released the album Wahoo! with a one-off group called Eero Koivistoinen Music Society. Involved in this sort of a supergroup was many of the very same musicians that were playing in most of the Finnish jazz records that time. And what a line-up that was; Eero Koivistoinen on saxophones (tenor, soprano, sopranino and electric soprano), Juhani Aalto on trombone, Kaj Backlund on trumpet, Juhani Aaltonen and Unto Haapa-aho on reeds, Esa Helasvuo, Esko Linnavalli and Olli Ahvenlahti on Fender Rhodes, Ilpo Saastamoinen and Ilkka Willman on electric guitar, Heikki Virtanen and Ilkka Willman on bass and Edward Vesala, Esko Rosnell, Reiska Laine and Sabu Martinez on drums and percussion. The album sounds exactly what you expect with a line-up like that. Syncopated funky jazz fusion with really tight rhythms by the set of two drummers, two bassists and two guitarists.
The album starts with the strong midtempo saxophone driven jazz groover “Hot c”. Almost eight minutes of action is what you get here. It’s followed by “7 up”, more jazzy but at least equally heavy track. Next up is “6 down”. With it’s eight minutes of some serious wah-wah, funky Rhodes and drums it’s among the best tracks on the album. B-side starts with the epic almost 11 minutes long “Suite 19”. It starts with an experimental sounding four minute intro before turning into an uptempo wah-wah driven, percussive, almost blaxploitation sounding track. Next track, “Bells” is the only mellow track on the album. Last but not least is the downtempo funky fusion title track “Wahoo!”. Overall this album is really great but not that magnificent it’s often praised. And in my opinion it’s not worth the 300-400 euros people ask for it. Luckily for all the non purists it was reissued in 2001. The reissue – both cd and vinyl – come with the cover coloring it should’ve been. Originally the print messed up the cover and it’s colors were a little different what they were intended to be.
Last one on my “Japan week” is an album by Zunō Keisatsu (頭脳警察, in English Brain Police), a quite well known Japanese psychedelic rock band whose radical, politically provocative lyrics caused their music being banned from the radio and caused troubles on their gigs too. Zunō Keisatsu was formed in 1970 by the Japanese psych rockers Panta (Haruo Nakamura) and Toshiaki Ishizuka. The idea for their name came from (Frank Zappa’s) Mothers of Invention song “Who are the brain police” (from Freak Out! album released in 1966). Despite their relatively short career, they released six albums and several singles before being disbanded in 1975. Their fifth album was this one, 仮面劇のヒーローを告訴しろ (Kamen geki no hīrō o kokuso shiro), released in 1973.
Mostly the album is pretty strict midtempo psych rock like “ウイスキー・ハイウエイ (Uisukī haiuei)” (meaning whiskey highway), “恋のいらだち (Koi no idarachi)”, very heavy title track “仮面劇のヒーローを告訴しろ (Kamen geki no hīrō o kokuso shiro)”, “奴は帰らない (Yatsu wa kaeranai)” and “麗しのジェット・ダンサー (Uruwashi no jetto dansā )”. There’s also uptempo tracks like “イエス・マン (Iesu man), “プリマドンナ (Purimadonna)”, “間違いだらけの歌 (Machigaidarakeno uta)” and “まるでランボー (Marude ranbō)”. It’s hard to say what they’re singing about in the latter one, but at least I recognize they mention Voltaire, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Beethoven, Sebastian Bach, Marie Curie and Jeanne D’arc. Nice and catchy track I have to say. The standout track however - and propably the reason why non psych rock loving people want this album - is a midtempo funky rock song called “ハイエナ (Haiena)”. It starts with a nice break and has some rough but catchy lyrics. There also appears to be two acoustic guitar driven tracks included, “ホ短調の間奏曲 (Ho tanchō no kansō kyoku)” and “愛なき日々 (Ai naki hibi)”. I’m actually not a very big fan of psych rock, or rock in general, so basically this album was bought for the break only. It just appeared to be a pretty good album after several spins.
Let’s start with a little history lesson to get the picture what’s with the name and meaning of this album. During the US civil war Atlanta was a very important hub of war supplies for the Confederacy. Therefore it was a main target for the the Union army. In 1864 general William Sherman took over the city after a four month siege and ordered all civilian population to be evacuated. After that he burned the city to ashes saving only churches and hospitals. Atlanta however rose from these ashes and the Phoenix bird has been the official symbol of the city since 1888.
In 1973 actor Ed Waller dropped by Lance-Arnold Recording Studios (owned by Herb Lance and Calvin Arnold) to see producer Tommy Stewart (of “Bump and hustle music” fame) who was at the moment producing several r’n'b and funk artists. With Waller was a gentlemen by the name of Bill Stokes. He was carrying a hand-sketched script of a proposed movie and he needed Stewart to write the musical score for his upcoming “The Burning of Atlanta Movie”. The movie would’ve been about the Atlanta underworld during the rise of the city after the 1864 burning. Stewart started to write the score right away and in May of 1973 and they premiered the musical score at the new Atlanta International Hotel with G.C. Coleman’s band - the band was renamed The Spirit of Atlanta before the premiere. G.C. Coleman is by the way the drummer behind the most sampled drum break in the history of music - the Amen break.
So there it was, a fresh panoramic scope of a classic blaxploitation soundtrack full of great tracks. But for a reason or another, the movie were never released. The supposed-to-be soundtrack was however released on Buddah records by the name The burning of Atlanta. As said, the music is very strong blaxploitation material that reminds me very much of the great Superfly soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield. There’s even an answer song to that soundtrack - intentional or unintentional, that I don’t know - called “Freddie’s alive and well”. You all remember “Freddie’s dead”, right? “Freddie’s alive and well” is an uptempo blaxploitation funk track with lots of wah wah, catchy vocals and a long drum break with some percussions. One of my all time favorite songs I should say. Another uptempo track, “Messin’ around”, is quite similar but instrumental funky groover. Then there’s “Hunter street”, another uptempo blaxploitation track with a strong chase feeling. Maybe it was intended to be placed on the movie’s chase sequence. Tommy Stwewart used to work part-time at Johnson’s Music Store on Hunter Street and that’s where he supposingly got the name for the track. Hunter Street was later named Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
Clarence Carter was also involved with the album. He sung the vocals in “Buttermilk bottom”, a very funky soul tune with a strong classic blaxploitation feel in it. Buttermilk bottom was a crime ridden neighborhood considered by the city leaders as a slum. They decided that the entire neighborhood needed to go and it was torn down to make way for the Atlanta Civic Center, opened in 1968. Another mellow funky soul track is “Peachtree street”, and that street is the main street of the city of Atlanta. “Auburn avenue” instead is a midtempo funky soul track - again with a very strong blaxploitation feel. Auburn avenue in Atlanta include Sweet Auburn, a historic African-American neighborhood. Last two tracks on the album are “Vine city”, an instrumental downtempo funk groover and “Down underground”, a midtempo instrumental with catchy horns. I reckon this album among the best funk albums ever made, that’s how great it really is.
I have to say that when I first became aware of this record, I thought the name was at least a little bit controversially dubious. And it still is even though the n-word has established as a some kind of a ghetto standard. Every nigger is a star is a soundtrack to a totally forgotten 1973 Jamaican movie starring blaxploitation-smoochie Calvin Lockhart of West-Indian heritage. They propably tried to turn the meaning of the n-word upside down for the black population of Jamaica with this movie to make it more positive term. The film however flopped and sank into obscurity - maybe for good reasons.
Even though the movie more or less disappeared from the earth, the soundtrack didn’t. Handful of copies survived and were the grails of some hardcore collectors until last year, when Jazzman finally reissued the whole soundtrack. West Indian born Boris Gardiner made the whole soundtrack together with his brother Barrington Gardiner. The music is played by Boris’ band The Boris Gardiner Happening. It’s a fine cross-section of 1970s Jamaican music scene. The music varies from smooth soul ballads to sweet reggae songs and from Caribbean jazziness to heavyweight funk. The acoustic title track “Every nigger is a star” is a fine example the smooth side of the Gardiners. Uptempo classic “Ghetto funk” and downtempo “Funky nigger” instead represent the heavy Jamaican funk at it’s best. The great Caribbean jazz-funk track “Negril” is also worth to mention. For further reading, Boris Gardiner talks about the title track in an interview on The Gleaner.
First of all, this record is a classic with a capital c. nobody doubts it. I think there is not much people who hasn’t heard anything from this album nor anything it has spawned. wittingly or unwittingly. It basically started the whole hip hop movement and still remains as one of the most played record throughout the hip hop community. Most of the people know the record but the story behind it isn’t that widely known.
It all starts with a b-class horror comedy movie called The thing with two heads. It’s a movie about a dying redneck racist who wants his head to be pllaced into a healthy body so he can go on with his life. After things evolving really quickly, the only remaining option to save him is to place his head into a body of a black inmate. The things will never be the same again as the body with a white and a black head start it’s partly hilarious adventure. During the time of the movie a guy named Michael Viner (pronounced Vee-ner) was in charge of Pride, a subsidiary of MGM records. Viner used to work for MGM, but he was so effective and produced so many hit records, that they gave him an own label, Pride. He was given a task to oversee the soundtrack for the upcoming movie The thing with two heads. He did put there the cream of Pride’s hottest acts, such as The Sylvers, Billy Butler, Ollie Nightingale, Sammy Davis Jr. and Jerry Butler, but it seemed to be lacking something. The intelligentsia at MGM decided to put one more car chase to the movie and they needed music for that. And that was a task for mr. Viner. He then started to gather studio musicians for the session where the remaining songs were supposed to be recorded. Viner rounded up his favorite session musicians and they cut two songs. “Bongo rock ‘72″ and “Bongolia”. They also needed a name for the band so they made it The Incredible Bongo Band. MGM liked the two chase anthem tracks so much that they paired them up to a single release. To everybody’s surprise, it sold furiously. After a while MGM even put extra money in and printed a photo of the band as a cover of the single, but as soon as people saw the pic with white guys smiling there, the sales decreased dramatically. So they removed the pic, returned to plain sleeves and it started to sell again. The single sold eventually over two million copies and spawned a demand for a full length album. A filler became an entity.
Los Angeles based Viner made a strange decicion to pack his stuff and session musicians and go to Canada to cut the album. Eventually the reason was the money. Canada was way cheaper than the States so it was worth flying there to record than to stay in L.A. They arrived at CanBase studios in Vancouver in 1972 and started to bang. After few days of hard work of him, his studio group and some additional Canadian musicians, the album was ready. It was released next year with a reflective silver sleeve made with foil. It sold pretty well, but not even close to the sales of the single. The follow-up, The return of the Incredible bongo band, was released in 1974 and it sold poorly. Thus ended the story of the band. But back to the Bongo rock. Who were the infamous session musicians Michael Viner chose to his mission?
On drums was an L.A. player Jim Gordon (born James Beck Gordon) - once considered as one of the greatest rock drummers in the world. He got his skills under Phil Spector and played also on sessions for the Beach Boys and Duane Eddy. During the 1970s he backed The Byrds, Eric Clapton, George HarrisonMerle Haggard, The Monkees, John Lennon, Minnie Riperton and countless others. He was a member of the group Derek and the Dominoes (along with Eric Clapton) and he co-wrote their big hit “Layla”. in 1970s Gordon toured as the drummer of Frank Zappa and what’s better, he was the drummer for Animal in the first Puppet movie. Gordon’s faith was however the drugs. In the late 1970s he flipped and started to hear voices inside his head. His purgatory finally ended in 1983 after several visits to mental hospital. He killed his mother with a knife and a hammer and was sentenced for life from a second degree murder. Currently he is imprisoned in State Medical Corrections Facility in Vacaville, CA and he is still collecting royalties for “Layla”. Steve Douglas (born Steven Douglas Kreisman) played saxophone. He was a pretty popular session musician and worked with many of the big names - Eric Clapton, Beach Boys, Keith Moon, Nilsson, Bette Midler, Bob Dylan, Ramones, Aretha Franklin and the king himself, Elvis Presley to name a few. During the time of Bongo rock -sessions, he was living and working in Vancouver. Douglas lived and literally died as a session musician. During a Ry Cooder session in 1993 he collapsed and died due to a heart failure. On guitar was Mike Deasy, also a very popular session musician in L.A. who was used by everybody from Billy Joel and 5th Dimension to Cannonball Adderley and Solomon Burke. He got his practice in same sessions that Jim Gordon did, with the Beach Boys and Duane Eddy. Born in the Bahamas, percussionist King Errisson (born Errisson Pallman Johnson) was also a top class session musician and his merit list contains sessions with a wide range of artists, including Bobbi Humphrey, Lenny Williams, Quincy Jones, Z.Z. Hill, The Four Tops, Cannonball Adderly among many many others. Remember the voodoo conga player in James Bond movie Thunderball? That was Errisson. Along drummer Jim Gordon, King Errisson played the key part in The Incredible Bongo Band. During the 1970s he was propably the best conga players in the world. Motown founder Berry Gordy even referred to him as “the unsung hero of Motown” for his contribution to Motown recordings. The other percussionist Michael Viner recalls from the sessions was L.A. based session musician Bobbye Hall. There was also some Canadian session musicians involved, most likely percussionists, but nobody remembers who they were. Michael Viner himself played on the background pretty much what he could get into his hands, from cymbals to drums and percussion. Arrangements on this album were made solely by Perry Botkin Jr.
And what about the music itself? As one can conclude from the name of the band, it is indeed very much percussion driven, and very much incredible. With Dick Dale‘ish surf guitars, tight percussion, heavy drumming and catchy horns it’s a mix of styles that is unique among the funky records throughout the history. First track, “Let there be drums” was originally a Billboard top 100 hit by Sandy Nelson, released in 1961. It was a guitar/drums-duet and it’s a pretty good example of early surf rock. The Bongo Band version has also quite banging surf rock drums with really nice backing with percussions and a catchy psychedelic surf guitar riff. And of course the break. Kind of laid back song “Last bongo in Belgium” sounds almost like they were trying to generate the mandatory ballad that appeared in almost every album that time. It follows the line of the album with it’s surf guitars and quite heavy drum-percussion beats having also some additional horn melodies. I’m not sure if they tried to resemble “Last tango in Paris” with the name but it’s however quite weird - at least for guys from L.A.. Needless to say, there’s a long phased drum-percussion break too. “Dueling bongos” is a sort of a version of “Dueling banjos”, an instrumental banjo composition from 1955 by Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith. It’s an accelerating three minute bongo frenzy - or should I call it a bongo mayhem. “Raunchy ‘73″ is a cover of Bill Justis‘ US chart hit “Raunchy” from 1959. It’s a nice (again) updated percussion driven version with no particular break, but really strong uptempo beat and catchy surf guitar melodies. Another updated cover is the one from The thing with two heads, “Bongo rock ‘73″. It was originally a top 40 hit recorded by Preston Epps back in 1959, but Bongo Band made it a heavier, more psychedelic and more banging. Uptempo beat, really catchy horn riffs and the break, what more do you need? The other one from the previously mentioned soundtrack is “Bongolia”, again a very heavy percussive track with psychedelic surf guitars, horn melodies and a long percussion break. In other words very similar to the other uptempo tracks on the album. Then there’s “In-a-gadda-da-vida”. A classic song on psychedelic rock scene. Original was a seventeen minute psych monster that was recorded by the legendary Iron Butterfly in 1968. Originally the title was supposed to be “In the garden of Eden” but the singer Doug Ingle was so drunk or high on lsd - or both - that “In-a-gadda-da-vida” was the only thing he could mumble. Therefore the title stuck and the song has been covered several times. Bongo Band’s version starts with a haunting melody and then turns into a banging midtempo track that follows the melodies of the original but is otherwise way more heavier on drums. There’s also a long, one and half minute break in the middle. Last but definitely not least, there’s the most important, and the most played track of the record, “Apache”. Originally first recorded by UK guitarist Bert Weedon in the spring of 1960, but as his single release was delayed several months, the version by the very well known UK surf rock band The Shadows was the first release of the song. The track was however written by songwriter Jerry Lordan way earlier and he used to play it on gigs with his ukulele. That’s where The Shadows spotted the song and made it a hit. It was a hit only in UK until 1961 when Danish jazz guitarist Jørgen Ingmann hit US charts with his version. Originally it’s a western movie themed song inspired heavily by the 1954 movie Apache (starring Burt Lancaster). Bongo Band’s version is totally different. It gets a point-blank start with heavy percussion with tight drumming before the riff joins in. The melodies are a true classic, from the laid back version of Jerry Lordan to this uptempo percussion frenzy of Bongo Band they have remained the same. But here everything else is different. And then there’s the break. A one and half minute combination of drums and percussion that has been one of the most re-used drumbreak in the history along James Brown’s “Funky drummer” and The Winstons‘ “Amen”. Short after the release of Bongo rock, a New York dj called Kool Herc discovered it and started to play it heavily. It was the first record he got doubles of and started to spin the doubles. In that magical night when he first played doubles of “Bongo rock” and “Apache” using only the break - in 1974 or 1975 Herc recalls - basically two things happened. First, people went crazy on the dancefloor and secondly, hip hop was born.
Freddie Roulette was born in Illinois, but later in the early 1970s moved to San Francisco. He got interested in steel guitar, an old Hawaiian musical tradition, when he saw a girl playing it in the elementary school. He soon mastered the instrument and brought the sound with him to San Francisco. Adding the steel guitar and slack key elements to blues music, he created some really unique sounds. His first and seemingly the only solo album, Sweet funky steel was released in 1973 on Janus Records. It was produced by Harvey Mandel, the former guitarist of the great Canned Heat. Mandel also played solo guitar on the album among three other regular guitarists and Roulette on steel guitar. So guitars are the key element here on this album, especially the steel guitar of course.
Songs on this album are mostly blues oriented but there’s few funky ones too. “Joaquin”, “Cause and effect” and “Million dollar feeling” are all downtempo, but quite funky tracks. At the same time they also sound kind of odd and unusual, but that’s because of the sharp and piercing sound of the steel guitar. The best track however is the last one, “Alleluia”. It’s an uptempo break’ish steel guitar funk track with nice beats. Quite obscure album I must say.
Super flute may sound a little cheesy album title and it reminds me of those cheap Italian, German or British cover albums that were released by the dozens in the 1970s. But as you know, one should never judge the record by it’s title - or cover. Ken Munson plays his flute like the greats Herbie Mann or Moe Koffman, but instead of jazziness, he does it more soulful way. The title track “Super flute” is a great uptempo funky track with breaks and all. And there’s more groovers as well. Uptempo flute funk tracks “Scramble” and “Papa was a rolling stone” with midtempo “Rocks in my bed”, “Back stabbers” and “Ode to Billy Joe” are enough for a reason to buy this one. Although little is known of Kenneth “Ken” Munson, I must admit that Super flute is really a magnificent album. It always gets you to a good mood no matter what.