In my early 20s, as I grew to love funky soul music, I immersed myself in the 70s output of a mighty triumvirate of singers: Sly, Stevie, and Curtis. Some of the most crucial, creative, timeless music ever recorded.
Of course, this material is pretty well known (as it should be), so rather than rehash it here, I’ll dig a bit into the “crates” for some funky versions.
First up, representing Stevie Wonder, is the very groovy Weldon Irvine. This being 1976, it starts out kinda proto-discoish, but settles into a stepping funk groove with nice horn arrangements and vocals by Don Blackman.
Lonnie Smith is just as groovy as many of his post-Jimmy Smith peers on the B3, but often more creative and daring. Here he reinvents Sly Stone’s classic “Stand” in a kozmik 17 minute epic jam from 1971, complete with dub effects and weird overdubbing.
Last, we have Frank Owens doing an instrumental version of “Freddy’s Dead” from 1973. I don’t know too much about this guy, though Dusty Groove notes that Bernard Purdie produced the session and plays on it. A pretty tame treatment of the tune, but with some nice rhodes soloing in place of Curtis Mayfield’s voice. I actually think you can judge it pretty well by the cover in this case.