BROOKLYN’S TRUE GROOVE label reignites the halcyon days of the half-serious/half-fun political/sociological parties best exemplified by Prince’s New Power Generation (NPG) and the Parliament/Funkadelic collective. The extension is natural, as Charlie Funk’s Give Me A Groove features performances by former P-Funk All-Stars members Michael ‘Kidd Funkadelic’ Hampton and Amp Fiddler, on guitars and keyboards respectively.
Produced by James Dellatacoma and Tomas Doncker (whose The Mess We Made I reviewed here), we are served up more superb arrangements and tight exposition of such that I’ve come to expect from the label self-described as global soul. Give Me A Groove being Charlie’s EP-length solo debut, comes across primarily as aimed more at a dance market, in contrast to Doncker’s politically savvy protest album. As a result the EP is lighter fare with apparent focus on song and more on getting butts off seats.
That’s not to say that tracks like ‘It’s Not A Joke’ and ‘Lunch In Babylon’ don’t point in a lyrically political direction, but the ideas are couched in less dominant funk grooves that allow the lyrics to make their subtle but non-laboured points. Technical treats tickle the fancy nevertheless, like the chord in ‘It’s Not A Joke’ that fades in under the trombone solo at 2m:23s and hangs over the tri-tone modulation – An ear-pleasing transition of a high order.
The track’s angular and ear-teasing horn lines help to delineate, as do ‘Lunch In Babylon’’s chromatic chordal moves and crunchy lead guitar slices that bring to mind classic Parliament/Funkadelic anthems like ‘I’ve Been Watching You’ and ‘Miss Lucifer’s Love’. Speaking of guitar, the title track opener with its Prince-like True Groove self-references features a solo that suggested I was being introduced to “My little friend the Blue Angel”. Now there’s a deep reference for those that get it.
Towards the end, the inclusion of the Tom Jones chestnut ‘It’s Not Unusual’ confused me a tad, but added an unexpected dimension to an already sonically rich collection otherwise authored by Funk, Doncker and the east-side True Groove tribe. PETER KEARNS
Music = 3/5