It's kinda hard to argue with a guy who not only copped two Grammies but produced 50 #1 charting airplay hits—yep, you read right: 50!—but when guitarist Paul Brown says 'funky', he's not talking about Chaka Khan or The Brothers Johnson and certainly not the power rockin' Mother's Finest but rather the smooth groovin' funk of shards of yesteryear jazz, the kind made by Phil Upchurch, Bob James (who appears on a cut here), Hank Crawford, that kinda funk mixed with Steve Cropper, Earl Klugh (catch Montreux especially), and some of the well known others.
The Funky Joint is not a blues project nor a ripping soul revue, it's a feel-good afternoon street vibe of hip metropolises on the easyside, community gatherings of kindred mellow folk, the passing of a bottle of a good cabernet from buddy to buddy as the sun sets, nothing frantic, no headlong flights, just hazy satisfied smiles and refuge from the dog eat dog real world. Like B.B. King, Brown isn't much for chords here (they're pretty rare) but rather an endless succession of bouncy swooping lines that perambulate in the afternoon sun, bringing the listener along for the ride.
Tuff Times is almost a blues but just too upbeat to settle into that vein even in its somewhat pensive mood, a song for snapping hip fingers or bopping gently around the room to. Several keyboardists appear, James among them, but Jeff Carruthers is the mainstay, often a co-writer, also a bassist and drummer, and pretty much Brown's right hand man. No matter what comes up, these guys have it covered, and there aren't enough O's in smoooooth to properly convey the satiny ambiance of The Funky Joint. Thus, when you're ready to put aside the screaming rock and roll and blustery jazz excesses, yearning for something to sooth nerves and mind, feeling like things have just got to slow down a notch or two and usher in day's end, this is the disc you want.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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