Friday, March 31, 2006

The Funk Brothers!

Earl Van Dyke & The Funk Brothers - The Flick (Pts. 1 & 2)

The excellent 2002 documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown finally brought the Funk Brothers, Motown's legendary but unacknowledged house band, to the consciousness of the mainstream, and the reconstituted group made lots of appearances and won some Grammys as a result of the exposure. (I will defer to the History of Rock & Roll website article on the group for pictures and more information.) The Funk Brothers' groove was as identifiable to Motown songs as the southern soul of Booker T. & The M.G.'s on Stax recordings. Although both groups have legitimate gripes about not being completely taken seriously as a recording act by their respective record companies, Stax was much fairer in terms of allowing their house band to be an act of its own (it probably didn't hurt anything that one of Stax's earliest smashes was "Green Onions"). Berry Gordy, violently protective of the Motown sound and of his musicians, kept the Funk Brothers uncredited and, save for a few great 45s, kept them out of the studio as independent recording artists. One of those 45s, "The Flick," was released on Motown's Soul imprint in 1965 and features keyboardist Earl Van Dyke working it out over a nice, typical Motown groove and it really cooks. Also to be noted is James Jamerson's bass solo later in the track.

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