Justjudith inspired me with the theme of her blog post tonight: favorite jams from her days at Howard University.
I am prone to powerful fits of nostalgia for my own college era (at the University of Maryland, College Park). Being that my era predates Judith’s by about a decade, I am also moved by a certain generational arrogance to educate this youngster. To wit: Our early-’80s funk was the best!! (All you middle-aged muhfuggas feel me, right?)
Click the song titles below if you wanna trip along with me...
1. “Searching” – Change
Luther Vandross’s breakout year was 1981 (the “Never Too Much” album). But the year before, Luther was all over the airwaves with his featured vocals on two tracks by Change.
For some reason, this one evokes wistful feelings in me.
2. “Work That Sucker to Death” – Xavier
In college, I was jonesing heavily for the P-Funk... at a point in history when George Clinton’s Corinthian colonnade of Rhythm-&-Business collapsed into dust (which George then freebased).
So when George and Bootsy dropped guest vocals on this 1982 joint, verily did I pop a chubby. The funk nerd in me still cracks a smile over George’s self-deprecating in-jokes. (“We sure do need a gig, don’t we, Bootsy?”)
3. “Thighs High” – Tom Browne
I swear to God, don’t you miss when black radio sounded like this?
4. “A Touch of Jazz (Playin’ Kinda Ruff Part II)” – Zapp
Yep, I was into Zapp too. Big time. I can’t dance a lick, but I loves the funky music. Ain’t that strange?
I saw Roger Troutman and Zapp at the Cap Centre, opening for Prince on the “Controvesy” tour.
5. “Weak at the Knees” – Steve Arrington’s Hall of Fame
Steve Arrington is way underrated as a funk vocalist. To slip back into P-Funk geek mode for a second, I would put him up there with Garry Shider.
6. “Funky Sensation” – Gwen McCrae
Even though it came out in 1981, “Funky Sensation” to me pointed a way to the progressive, clubby funk sound of the mid-’80s. I know that might be slicing it rather fine... I’m just saying this track was ahead of its time. And it still kicks major ass.