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Funk musicians often speak, and sing, of the style in spiritual language. The funk, they say, will set you free; it will fill you with its irresistible power; it’s indestructible. Disbelieve if you like, but it’s a rare enterprise that inspires such devotion in its practitioners.

Eyewitnesses insist that the funk can do remarkable things. For instance, Sunday at the B.B. King Blues Club and Grill, at a concert paying tribute to the late Parliament-Funkadelic member Garry “Starchild” Shider, the funk turned Living Colour into a latter-day Parliament.

The Black Rock Coalition flagship band had plenty of help at this concert, which followed a similar Saturday tribute at the Multi Media Arts Center in Bloomfield. Bernie Worrell, P-Funk’s innovative organist, joined Living Colour for a menacingly tight version of Funkadelic’s “Super Stupid.” Melvin Gibbs gave the band a second bassist to reinforce the dirty bottom end. With room on the crowded stage at a premium, the Chops Horns (Englewood’s Sugar Hill Records’ brass section) set up on the dance floor and blared away.

As the music oozed from every corner of the room, many in the audience would have insisted that Shider, P-Funk’s longtime musical director and rhythm guitarist (who died of cancer, at 56, on June 16), was present, too.

In the middle of the stage stood Living Colour’s Vernon Reid, guitar in hand, directing traffic. Shider taught thousands of aspiring guitarists the rudiments of funk-rock; perhaps none has taken those lessons further than Reid has. The Living Colour leader considers Shider “irreplaceable” and a boundary-defying forerunner of contemporary pop exuberance.

Funk-rock is notable for its distinct, sharply drawn characters, and an all-star procession of colorfully dressed musicians stopped in to pay respects and lay down a groove or two: Miles Davis and P-Funk sideman DeWayne “Blackbird” McKnight, Parliament drummer Jerome “Bigfoot” Brailey, rotund 24-7 Spyz axeman Jimi Hazel, Rahway-based saxophonist Darryl Dixon and many others.

The music was interrupted by brief — but poignant — public service announcements from the event’s organizers. Bob Davis of sponsor Soul Patrol, an internet radio station, implored audience members and performers alike to get health and life insurance. Emcee Darrell McNeill tried to dispel the misconception that P-Funk’s hits made the band members rich. The popular “Glee,” he reminded us, recently featured a “watered-down, milquetoast” version of “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker).” Parliament, reported McNeill, didn’t receive a dime.

Worrell, whose daring set with SociaLybrium was an evening highlight, encouraged listeners to donate to the Sweet Relief charity for musicians (sweetrelief.org) and directly to the Garry Shider Medical Fund (garryshidermedicalfund.com).

There was, however, nothing elegiac about the show-opening performance by Funk-Kin, a band composed of the late guitarist’s brothers, cousins and friends. In funk tradition, they sang about girls in tight clothing and sunny days in Shider’s hometown of Plainfield, “where the funk came from.” Shider’s son Garrett joined Funk-Kin for a moving rendition of “Cosmic Slop,” his father’s signature song.

Guitarist Kevin Shider, who played with his brother in several prominent pre-Parliament gospel bands, came dressed for the occasion: He wore a silver cap, huge white sunglasses, tight leather pants and thigh-high boots with stars on the kneecaps, and sucked a glow-in-the-dark pacifier. The crowd recognized the outlandish costume as a gesture of faith, not merely in his fallen brother, but in Technicolor funk-rock in general.

True believers stood on the dance floor, singing along to animated versions of classic songs. The fiery Sophia Ramos, supported by the BRC Orchestra, glitter all over her pregnant belly, stormed through Shider’s pre-Parliament “Baby I Owe You Something Good.” Better still was jazz-soul singer Maya Azucena’s celebratory take on “Bop Gun,” a song about a cosmic weapon that fires the funk into the hearts of the ignorant, bringing them to cosmic consciousness on the spot. She sang it as if she believed every word.

“Garry’s going to be here forever,” said Kevin Snider, during the Funk-Kin set. “The funk will never die.”

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Excellent. Thanks C!
Wonderful and well written. R.I.P. Gary!

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Introspection

Spotlight | Maze

  1. play Maze — 03 Feel That You're Feelin'
  2. play Maze — 04 Somebody Else's Arms
  3. play Maze — 04 Southern Girl
  4. play Maze — Can't Get Over You
  5. play Maze — Golden Time Of Day
  6. play Norman Brown — Night Drive
  7. play Norman Brown — Feeling
  8. play Norman Brown — Still
  9. play Miles Davis — miles 1
  10. play miles 2
  11. play miles 3
  12. play miles 4
  13. play miles 5
  14. play Marvin Gaye — I Met A Little Girl
  15. play Santana — 01 Singing Winds, Crying Beasts
  16. play Santana — 02 Black Magic Woman-Gypsy Queen
  17. play Mongo — 02. Afro Blue



The history of the Butlers/Raw Soul is dense, but for all of us music nerds, that's normal. It is not totally clear what year the Butlers actually formed but they released their first single in 1963 on Liberty Records. That single was "She Tried To Kiss Me" and another single followed on Guyden entitled "Lovable Girl." After the Guyden single the Butlers took a break not recording another record until the single "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" was released on the Phila label in 1966. The group also backed Charles Earland and Jean Wells on one Phila single ("I Know She Loves Me"). 


As you might be noticing, the Butlers were doing a fair amount of recording but not achieving much success. The group's recordings sold regionally but never had the promotion to make an impact on the national scene. After the single with Phila, the Butlers moved to the Fairmount label (part of the Cameo-Parkway family) and released a handful of singles, some being reissued singles of the past. The Butlers were with Fairmount for 1966-67 and then moved to Sassy Records. Sassy released the group's greatest single (in my opinion) "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" b/w "If That's What You Wanted." A copy of that 45 sold for just under $500 last summer on eBay. Even though that isn't that much in the world of record collecting--it's still a hefty sum. The Butlers released another single on Sassy ("She's Gone" b/w "Love Is Good") that appears to be even 
harder to come by then the "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" single.

 

The true history become a bit blurred here as the AMG biography states that the Butlers last record was released on C.R.S. in 1974 (". However, between 1971 and that single, Frankie Beverly formed a group called Raw Soul and released a number of singles. Some of the songs recorded by Beverly during this period are "While I'm Alone," "Open Up Your Heart," (both on the Gregor label) and "Color Blind." "Color Blind" was released by the Eldorado label and rerecorded by Maze. Beverly's big break came when Marvin Gaye asked Raw Soul to back him on a tour. Gaye helped Beverly/Raw Soul get a contract at Capitol. Beverly decided to take the group in a different direction, a name change occurred, and Maze was created. 

The above isn't the most complete history of Beverly but hopefully someone will know a way to get in touch with the man or his management because a comprehensive pre-Maze history needs to be done on Frankie Beverly (his real name is Howard, by the way). Below you'll find every Frankie Beverly (pre-Maze) song available to me right now ("Color Blind" will be up soon). 

If you have a song that is not included below, shoot it over to funkinsoulman (at) yahoo.com and it will go up in the next Frankie Beverly post (later this week--highlighting Maze). Also, if you have any more information please share your knowledge. The Butlers material has been comp-ed sporadically (usually imports) but the entire Maze catalog has been reissued and is available. 

Enjoy.  "She Kissed Me" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967) 
 
 "I Want To Feel I'm Wanted" (not sure which label or year) "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" (Phila, 1966) "Because Of My Heart" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967)
   
 "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" (Sassy, 1967)
   
 "If That's What You Wanted" (Sassy, 1967)
 



Frankie Beverly is one of those cats that has lasting power. He started in the music business doing a tour with doo wop group the Silhouettes and then formed his own group called the Blenders. The Blenders never recorded a single, Beverly wouldn't appear on wax until forming the Butlers a few years later. Along with Beverly, the Butlers included Jack "Sonny" Nicholson, Joe Collins, John Fitch, and Talmadge Conway.

Beverly would later enjoy great success fronting Maze and Conway would become a
well-known penning Double Exposure's
"Ten Percent" and the Intruders' "Memories Are Here To Stay." 
 While Maze is a phenomenal group, Beverly's work before that group will always stand out as his best (imo).

The Butlers produced tunes that most Northern Soul fans would kill for and Raw Soul gave the funksters something to pursue. If, by chance, you know of a way to get in touch with Frankie Beverly or his management, please drop me an e-mail. It would be absolutely great to do an interview with him about his pre-Maze work. He's still playing out, most recently doing a New Year's Eve show in Atlanta.
:: Funkinsoulman ::

Power...Through Simplicity ♪♫♪

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