Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Budos Band: The Budos Band

If you've known me any length of time, you know that I'm a freak for funk and soul music. To me, the best period in modern Black music was from 1967 to about 1982 - after Sly Stone and James Brown broke up the joint, but before hip-hop and rap became all-pervasive.

If you dig hardcore funk like I do, you will absolutely LOVE the Budos Band. This is a big unit, consisting of no less than 11 highly-skilled musicians from the bad streets of Brooklyn, funkin' it up with a full horn section just like the J.B.'s and Manu Dibango used to. I mention him specifically because the Budos' identify themselves as Afro-Funk, a musical subset made popular in the early 70s by artists such as Dibango, Osibisa, Hugh Masekela and Mandingo. Even War dabbled in this arena a bit (but with more of a West Coast feel underlying the funk).

Afro-Funk fuses a hardcore funk rhythm with harmonics and melody structures that borrow heavily from traditional African music. It is relentless, sometimes tribal, and always danceable.

The Budos Band are instrumentalists first and foremost. Which is to say, they ain't no words on this record. What there is is a rock-solid backbeat that never, ever lets up, coupled with a driving horn section that pummels you with straight-up funk, the kind that would make Bobby Byrd come up out of his seat and start to boogie uncontrollably. Budos works in a minor key on most of their songs as well, which gives you an almost uneasy feeling of foreboding, even as you're shaking your rump to the funk.

Formed in 2005, The Budos Band is one of a solid lineup of retro-soul acts that record for Brooklyn's Daptone Records, which grew out of the (in)famous Desco Records neo-soul combine of the Nineties. Suffice to say that when you hear The Budos Band, or any of their labelmates  – such as the Sugarman Trio or Sharon Jones – you will swear that it's 1974 again and you're listening to some new, undiscovered gem about to break wide open. But this isn't derivative aping of a bygone style — it's heartfelt performances made by people who are truly devoted to perpetuating a classic genre. This is the first of their three (so far) albums.

If I graded albums, I'd give this an A+, but I don't so just go order it, willya?

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