Hamilton Bohannon – 1973 – Stop & Go
Hamilton Bohannon’s finest record concocts sensuous funk grooves from daring arrangements boasting tripped-out wah-wah guitars, punishing basslines, and massive drum breaks. In short, a sampler’s wet dream. While later Bohannon discs would veer too far into the realm of up-tempo disco, Stop and Go favors slower, sexier rhythms. Add in the chorus vocals of the Haywood Sisters on tracks like “Run It on Down, Mr. D.J.” and the remarkable “Singing a Song for My Father” and the end result is the kind of uncommonly lush and tactile funk album R. Kelly would skip recess to make.
I was hesitant to turn myself onto this one as it was described to me as Disco-Funk. Disco music obviously has a deadly connotation even to the most learned music fanatics. But this album is a funk album first and foremost, and light years closer to Sly & the Family Stone than our graven image of disco ball dance floor numbers, avoiding the pitfalls that so many pseudo-chic overproduced and misdirected disco outfits fell into from the mid – late ‘70s. Bohannon has obviously found a guitar groove he likes here because he recycles it over and over throughout the album. This doesn’t make the album any less appealing because he infuses the similarity with totally infectious backing grooves and creatively placed guitar parts. Although the song has slightly aged, Prince was definitely listening to “Let’s Start the Dance III” at some point in his young life. Great, and at times otherworldly, while at other times average especially on the latter half of the record. There are more important soul/funk/disco albums to purse before this one, but this is a fine and often exciting album to fatten a collection.