Rufus Thomas – 1973 – Crown Prince Of Dance
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In the summer of 1972, during the legendary WattStax Festival, the then 55-year old Rufus Thomas had thousands of young people flapping their wings and breaking down in a dancing frenzy at L.A. Memorial Coliseum. The World’s Oldest Teenager turned that sucker out. The people got so into it, they stormed the football field, much to the horror of the groundskeepers. All Rufus had to do was speak. “We don’t want nobody on the field, NOT YET. Don’t jump the fence cause it makes no sense. Now, when I tell you to get on the field, THEN you get on the field… then I just might get out on the field WITH YA.”
And the people listened.
A1 Git On Up And Do It 2:45
A2 I Know You Don’t Want Me No More 3:01
A3 Funkiest Man Alive 7:43
A4 Tutti Frutti 2:52
A5 Funky Robot 4:21
B1 I Wanna Sang 5:10
B2 Baby It’s Real 4:40
B3 Steal A Little 3:33
B4 I’m Still In Love With You 2:58
B5 The Funky Bird 3:24
Review by Soulmakossa
Rufus Thomas was as baaad as James Brown, and certainly less serious about himself and certainly more humorous. And the crowds dug it: they bought this man’s dance-themed funk tunes by the crates. Imagine that in our day and age.
What gets lost in the shuffle is just how good Rufus’ stuff is. The man was a powerhouse performer, and this 1973 album is testament to that.
Recorded with the Isaac Hayes “Movement” and the Hi Studio Band, this LP is a brilliant mix of hardcore funk and Southern Soul.
It starts with the powerful message-driven “Git on Up and Do It“, a stuttering funk bomb that has Rufus – who certainly paid his dues in the Jim Crow South – imploring his young fans to never give up. Martin Luther King and George Washington Carver are referenced as symbolic icons to be followed.
He then establishes his singing credentials with a superb rendition of Barbara George‘s 1961 smash “I Know You Don’t Want Me No More“, after which he returns to the funky side of things with the stupendous groove beast “Funkiest Man Alive“. Heavy guitar riffs, blaring horns, booming bass lines and fatback in the pocket drums provide the gritty backdrop for Thomas’ tongue-in-cheek self-aggrandizing.
The groove won’t let up as he funkifies Little Richard‘s “Tutti Frutti” and delivers his latest dance-craze anthem, “Funky Robot“.
Set to a loping, greasy, nasty backdrop, Rufus serves up “I Wanta Sang” as a prelude for much of the album to come. For after this umpteenth piece of brilliantly funky soul, he goes down memory lane and churns out beautiful renditions of J.W. Alexander’s bluesy “Baby It’s Real” – where he is joined by his lovely daughter Carla – and an equally smoky take on Calvin Arnold’s torrid “Steal a Little“.
This blend of blues, soul and funk is most evidently displayed on the wonderful uptempo romp “I’m Still in Love With You” – written by Mack Rice and our hero himself. Stupidly catchy, horn-filled and immediate ear candy.
The LP closes, however, with another dance tune. Here, Rufus takes a good-humoured dig at the Ohio Players‘ “Funky Worm“, coming up with his own “Funky Bird” that’ll teach that creepy crawler a lesson or two on getting down.
A great album by a great man… I love me some Rufus.
Finally get another Rufus’ album 1972 “Did You Heard Me?” in our back pages here