THUNDER CHICKEN - The Mighty Imperials Featuring Joseph Henry (Daptone/Reverberation)
If you're going to make it funky, ensure it's chunky, around the I-94 Bar. The Mighty Imperials don't fail to make the grade in that regard. Thick, mellifluous basslines abound and there's a drummer who makes maximum use of those traps by sitting on a feel and without playing every skin in sight. It's mostly instrumental, with vocals on three tunes by Joseph Henry.
Funk ain't the stock-in-trade around the Bar but this shit is hard to resist. Before you chuckle into your beers, remember from where the MC5 took some of their cues. Any record collection befreft of some righteous R & B stompers, a touch of JB and the Famous Flames, the odd slice of Motown or Staxx, well it ain't worth thumbin' through.
"Thunder Chicken" sounds like a bunch of wizened southern soul men getting together over fried chicken ('natch), catfish, whisky and grits in some broken-down home studio in the backwoods, down by a Lousiana swamp full of alligators. Judicious investigation actually reveals these tracks were cut in 2000 by four 16-year-olds in New York, which makes it all the more amazing. Turns out the album was booted a couple of years later and was even sampled for some British dance floor tune.
Not for nothing do The Mighty Imperials chose to cover "Cold Sweat", even if that's one song on which soul singer Joseph Henry is MIA. On "Joseph's Popcorn", Mr Henry shows he's from the James Brown school (bet he even dips and does that thing with the mic stand).
Apart from said engine room (take a bow Nick Molvshon on bass and Homer Steinweiss on drums), the other elements are a deft guitarist and judicious organist. Nice disc to chase down (and it's locally licensed if you're in Australia, thanks to the folks at Reverberation) if you saw "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" or want to hear some chicken being funked over. – The Barman
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