Recommend a good but obscure funk track

I recently started getting really into old school funk music. I’ve have liked to for years, but most of the stuff I was aware of was from well known acts like James Brown or Aretha Franklin. I got bored one day, so decided to start digging around a bit more and there seems to be huge amounts of the stuff out there. Admittedly, its quite varied, but the good stuff is excellent. There are a lot of really, really great artists who are completely unknown to me, and presumably weren’t very successful. I’m amazed that this era isn’t heavily mined for cover versions

I was so impressed with what I was finding, I ended up settiing up my own soundcloud page, because I felt compelled to share it with my friends

So, any doper funk fans out there? What is your favourite track by an artist I’ve never heard of?

I assume you have Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, Bootsy’s Rubber Band, etc.

How about the Isley Brothers? They aren’t obscure to funk lovers, but not as well known in a crossover way. If you don’t have Voyage to Atlantis and Go for Your Guns, you’re missing some of the greasiest funk out there. Fight the Power is probably their most well-known funk track, but when Ernie Isley does Hendrix leads (he learned from Jimi) over Go for Your Guns, I just love it…

I’m partial to Live it Up myself. But yeah, I don’t think I could count that as obscure.

More Bounce to the Ounce by Zapp
Shakey Ground by the Temptations
Clean Up Woman by Betty Wright
Pass The Peas by Maceo
Maybe Your Baby by Stevie Wonder
Funky Stuff (1 & 2) by Kool and the Gang

The Ohio Players had some pretty good funk tracks (Fire, Love Roller Coaster), and I don’t know how much mainstream radio play they got.

It’s hard to tell what you would consider obscure.

Yeah, Stevie and Sly are what I’d consider the breakthrough stars of funk. I’ve got a few Isley brothers tracks, but none of those mentioned, so I’ll definitely check them out.

I thinking pretty obscure really. I’m not sure how big the funk scene got in the 70’s, but I get the impression there’s a lot of stuff that remained completely underground. When I’ve tried googling some of the artists, there is little or no info about them out there, and a lot of the tracks have very low production quality (fortunately, there seemed to be a lot of excellent musicians around back then, and they could pull it off). For example, one of the first compilations I got hold of was “The Funky 16 Corners”, but from what I read, most of the artists had very little success at the time, and were rediscovered when this album was put together in 2001 (really great album, by the way).

I just listened to a few tracks from that album, and it sounded more like jazz/funk fusion to me, with some out there time signatures and jazzy (rather than bluesy) chords. You may like Maceo, possibly Tower of Power, and maybe Herbie Hancock (the albums I know of his are Headhunters and Thrust – both early '70’s, both jazz/funk, neither had much radio play except maybe Chameleon).

Not at all obscure but just to make sure, you’ve got Bootsy and Parliament on your list, right? There’s Brass Construction, Crowh Heights Affair, Graham Central Station, The Gap Band, Mandrill and, for some funky rock, Mother’s Finest.

Check out the Meters. Their early stuff is mostly instrumental, but I like the albums “Look-Ka Py Py” and “Struttin’” the best.

This is pretty much exactly what I came to say.


Shouldn’t be obscure to a funk fan (esp not a P-Funk fan!), but might be obscure for a casual listener. Also, it just may be the funkiest song ever. (see older SDMB threads)
Soul Finger! is awesome. Spies Like Us may have pulled it up from obscurity.

Maggot Brain

Planet of Bass - Maggotron … a good funky sampling mix

Ffun! - ConFunkShun might round out a mix

Add some house-y techno sounds to your funks and you’ll enjoy Afrika Bambaattaa’s many extended play dance mixes. Like Maggotron, tho, may be too 80s for this thread.

I shoulda married you when I had the chance. Funkentelechy!

The first P-Funk song I ever heard, back when I was a DJ in college (warning, lyrics definitely NSFW):

It melted my little nerdy white guy brain. :smiley:

Here is a list of ‘Top 100 Funk Artists’. It’s pretty decent. I could quibble with the order, but all the big names, and most all of the obscure ones are there.

Here’s a pretty good history online.
You should try to grab a copy of Funk: The Music, The People and the Rhythm of the One by Rickey Vincent. Here’s a great interview/bio of him - he teaches in SF, hosts a weekly History of Funk radio program (Fridays @ 10pm PST on KPFA in Berkeley) which you can stream live.

Another program is the Dirty Soul Party on WTMD (Wash DC) - Saturdays @ 9 pm EST. It’s not all funk, but it’s all funky. Great stuff, and might give you an appreciation for the evolution of the sound from soul to funk.

There is an 8 part youtube history available, here is Ep 1/8.

Some choice groups:
Average White Band
The Gap Band
The Bar-Kays (I love these outfits and hey, it’s Chef from South Park!)
Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers
On the jazz funk side:

Herbie Hancock, as mentioned above.
Brecker Brothers
Reuben Wilson

You should check out Numero Records - they’re a reissue label that deals almost exclusively in obscure regional R&B scenes. A lot of '60s soul, but plenty of funk as well.

It’s a cover, but so damned funky, I think you’ll like it - Widemouth Mason does “Superstition.” I’ll do a little combing through my iTunes and see what else I can come up with for you.

There was a mix out at one time… it may have been a local radio edit… of various different riffs and instrumental hooks of Little Stevie Wonder thru out his career (up to then, mid/late 80s maybe)

I wish I could find it. It may have come from KMJQ/Houston, since I listened to them a lot at night back then (night shift worker)

Very funky stuff.

Betty Davis, her first 3 are great.

Sorry, More Bounce to the Ounce is the funkiest song ever. Cite!