The Bar-Kays – 1974 – Cold Blooded
A slept-on jewel of funk rock and greasy, laid back politically minded soul…
Come 1974, Stax Records was in trouble financially, but as far as the Bar-Kays were concerned, this didn’t really change anything much. The label had struggled with the band’s drive towards hard rocking funk a la Funkadelic for a while now, and ‘Coldblooded’ was pumped out in 1974 to little fanfare.
A1 Cold Blooded 3:08
A2 Harmony 3:44
A3 In the Scheme of Things 4:29
A4 Waiting and Hating 4:06
A5 Smiling Styling and Profiling 3:20
B1 Frame of Mind 3:35
B2 (I’ve Got To) Use My Imagination 5:37
B3 Fightin’ Fire With Fire 4:24
B4 Would I If I Could 3:44
B5 Be Yourself 3:38
The group’s obsession with Sly Stone is evident throughout the LP. The sinister “Coldblooded” sounds like a studio version of the band’s “Feel It” jam, that hard socking end vamp to their Wattstax performance of “Son of Shaft”. The frenzied beats and gurgling, swamped bass and horns are heavily indebted to Stone’s “I Wanna Take You Higher”.
There’s a hint of Sly’s “Family Affair” in “Harmony“, another dark, brooding, simmering stew of funky grooves, wah wah guitars, muddy bass riffs and stretched out horns. A superb message tune, it brilliantly showcases Larry Dodson’s soaring gospelfide vocals.
Swooshing cymbals, Shaft-style, and a meaty clavinet open the romping funk excursion “In the Scheme of Things“, a horn-heavy slice of soulful rock at its nastiest with a solid guitar solo by Lloyd Smith.
The Bar-Kays then delve into a thick, murky funky blues with the gargantuan bass-fest “Waiting and Hating“, with Dodson vocalizing through a leslie speaker. This is one of those incredibly groovy tunes you’d expect on one of Albert King’s mid-70s albums for Stax.
Heavy funk breaks are all over the mammoth groovathon “Smiling, Styling and Profiling”, a real lowdown barnburner taking it back to the country. Twanging guitars and a wailing harmonica, it’s all here, on top of a incisive, thumping beat.
The flipside doesn’t dissapoint either: “Frame of Mind“, with its oozing clavinet intro, is a more pacey affair, kicking it firmly on the one while guitarist Smith throws in some delicious wah wah riffs.
“(I’ve Got To) Use My Imagination” starts off with a super mellow, gently flowing clavinet lick, but it soon gets right back in the pocket as rock hard guitars start creeping in and out and the groove is taken to yet another messy, horn-laden workout. The short intermezzo, however, sounds almost like Earth, Wind & Fire dropped by the studio.
Most political of all is the jazz-funk-rock opus “Fightin’ Fire With Fire“, another teaser that begins soft and mellow but quickly evolves into a monster of a funk jam.
With “Would If I Could“, the Bar-Kays give a final salute to Sly & The Family Stone, adding a stupidly funky coda to it similar to the one that graced The Family’s 1969 anthem “Stand”. A bubblin’, bumpin’, deep fried, hi-cholesterol funk tour de force…
The LP ends with “Be Yourself“, a track culled from the band’s predecessing album ‘Do You See What I See’ (1972).
‘Coldblooded’ is all killer, no filler… a must for funkateers.