Funk Inc. - 1971 – Funk Inc.
A killer instrumental album of hard organ grooves and funky basslines! This was the album that broke Funk Inc out of their Indianapolis scene, and made them a force to be forever reckoned with in the history of funky jazz. The album grooves hard in the same sound as some of the classic work by Prestige jazz funk giants like Rusty Bryant, Charles Earland, or Ivan Boogaloo Jones – but it’s almost even tighter than their work, because the Funk Inc combo as a tightly woven group of players who’d been together for a number of years.
The record’s filled with monster cuts that you’ll recognize immediately, like the group’s famous “Kool is Back“, which has a monster sample on the intro, and hard heavy Kool & The Gang grooves throughout.
A1 Kool Is Back 8:20
A2 Bowlegs 7:55
B1 Sister Janie 5:25
B2 The Thrill Is Gone 6:30
B3 The Whipper 6:15
A funky instrumental album debut with some burnin’ guitar, saxophone, and organ.
This first and self-titled album is far out their best and is considered one of the milestones in pure funk.
The guitar player Steve Weakly is only 21 at the time of this album and an admirer of B.B. King as you can here in his feature here (The Thrill Is Gone),likes Kenny Burrell and Jimi Hendrix as well. Funk, Inc.was founded in 1969 by organist Bobby Watley with Eugene Barr (ts), Steve Weakley (g), Jimmy Munford (dr) and Cecil Hunt (conga). They play a mix of funk, jazz and R&B.
The tunes are tame, the sax gets in the way, but the groove and briefness of the album requires you keep this in your simple pleasures category.
Jazz funk that’s more funk than jazz, like walking into a bar and the house band is playing some background funk while you and all your hipster friends laugh and talk about your lives or whatever.
It swings along, and funks along, the drummer puts it down, the tune “Bowlegs” is probably the best thing here, and partridge in a pear tree.
Funk Inc. play an extremely impressive and addictive brew of soul and funky jazz, with some slight rock and blues garnishes. Think of the vintage Blue Note sounds recorded by the likes of Grant Green, Lou Donaldson, Brother Jack McDuff, and Jimmy McGriff, and add a slight dose of Chuck Berry, and the result is Funk Inc. Yeah, it’s that good!
Honestly, I’m surprised that more people haven’t rediscovered this band yet. This truly is incredible music. One of the band’s main strengths is the organ playing of Bobby Watley. He worked with Lonnie Smith and McDuff, but also cites Jimmy Smith as an influence. Say no more; you need to hear this guy play! In addition to those heavenly organ grooves, the rest of the band is ace too, especially the licks from guitarist Steve Weakley.
I’m thrilled to have belatedly discovered this excellent band (they came from Indianapolis), but also excited to find out that Funk Inc. made several other recordings too. Once again, reviewer Eddie Landsberg is spot-on with his assessment of this band. Funk Inc. play an extremely impressive and addictive brew of soul and funky jazz, with some slight rock and blues garnishes. Think of the vintage Blue Note sounds recorded by the likes of Grant Green, Lou Donaldson, Brother Jack McDuff, and Jimmy McGriff, and add a slight dose of Chuck Berry, and the result is Funk Inc. Yeah, it’s that good!
Sign me up, I want to hear them all!
Funk Inc. – 1972 – Chicken Lickin’
Funky organ, hard tenor sax, and plenty of choppy guitar make this another jazz funk gem in the crown of the legendary Funk Inc! The group are still totally at the top of their game here – stepping out with a deep, soulful Indy-bred blend of jazz and funk ,a groove that was easily one of the hippest going in the early 70s Prestige Records scene and that’s saying a lot, given the company the label was keeping at the time! The record’s got one track that features some nice soulful vocals, the political cut “Let’s Make Peace & Stop The War” but the best cuts are the instrumentals, grooving along hard in the band’s best modal funky tradition!
The first 2 albums by Funk Inc is a fest of funky organ/guitar jazz jams! Call it jazzy funk or funky jazz, this stuff doesn’t quit, with a searing blend of Hammond organ, scratchy guitars, and wailing tenor solos that was some of the best of its generation!
Funk Inc built heavily on the soul jazz grooves of the 60s but manage to come across in a tighter mode that was more in keeping with the 70s funk years and these 2 early albums for the Prestige label perfectly sum up the group’s genius!