Category Archives: 2002

Anatomy of THE Groove: “Phunk Shui” by John Oates

Hall & Oates indirectly propagated the first music I remember hearing while in public with their hit “I Can’t Go For That”. John Oates is turning 68 today. He recorded his first single the same year he enrolled at Temple University,where of course he met Daryl Hall. And as for them as a duo,the rest is history. Throughout their decade and a half career peak of being the most commercially successful American duo in rock history,Oates generally only had one or two songs on each of their albums that he sung lead on. While Daryl Hall began a solo career in the mid 1980’s,it would take Oates another 16 years to release his very first solo album,which he entitled Phunk Shui.

Around the time I picked up this album,there was a lot of talk within my family about the Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui. This basically reduces down to harmonizing everyone with their surrounding environment. In that case,it had to do with the structural orientation of doors in our townhouse apartment closing directly onto each other. But seeing the title associated on this John Oates album with the funk music genre,before even hearing the album,reminded me of how much of an effect the energy created by this rhythm based music had on my own spacial orientation. When I finally heard the title song of John Oates album,the whole idea that the title projected completely clicked.

A heavily processed Clavinet sounding keyboard opens the song,before the hit hat kicks in the groove starts right up. The James Brown style rhythm guitar gets going heavy on the refrain. The melody changes up just before the chorus with the organ mixed high while the keyboard sound that opens the song opens up for the choral refrain. Oates sings the song in both the middle,high and bass end of his vocal change. On the bridge of the song,the organ references the descending opening electric sitar of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed,Sealed And Delivered” before going into a rock guitar solo from Oates. This solo continues onward as the chorus repeats to the songs fade.

Considering that live band funk was few and far between from the late 90’s through the 2000’s,this song was a tremendous revelation. It also showcases how important funk was to the success that Hall & Oates had during their late 70’s and early 80’s peak. Songs such as the aforementioned “I Can’t Go For That” and “Method Of Modern Love” both showcase that influence. He mentions P-Funk,Ohio Players,Gap Band and Morris Day as making a huge impact on his sound. Along the way he even brings out how so many contemporary pop acts have neglected funky musicianship just to make money. And that now that “things have gone wrong”,the time has come to relight the funky fire.

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Filed under 2002, drums, Feng Shui, Funk, Hall & Oates, John Oates, keyboards, organ, rhythm guitar, rock guitar, Uncategorized

Anatomy of THE Groove 12/5/2014 Andre’s Pick: “L.O.V.E and you & I” by Jazzanova

During the summer of 2002 my father was continually playing an album entitled In Between. It was by Jazzanova, Berlin based DJ/producer collective whose members are Alexander Barck, Claas Brieler, Jürgen von Knoblauch, Roskow Kretschmann, Stefan Leisering, and Axel Reinem. Every time the two of us would run an errand or go on a short road trip? My father would continually play the albums opening song “Love And You & I”. Even for years after? My dad and I would fun on one another about how entranced he seemed to be with playing this song so often. But as is often the case with my musical influences such as my father? As my understanding and tastes in music continued to expand and grow,so did my appreciation of what this particular song,which I heard so often,was really all about.

The song starts out with a dragged out sounding sample of what I recognize easily as “Something’s Missing” by the Five Stairsteps,followed by the the same line sung by a 50’s type pop vocal choir. After a female singer responds “Could It Be Love” that slowly descends into a choir of the same phrase and a lower female singer simply singing “love”,the instrumental part comes in with a mellow jazzy piano punctuated by breaks of slow latin percussion and electric piano bursts. On the second refrain of this,the song goes into a deep male vocal chorus-followed by a solo voice singing “the sun,the moon,the sky and you and I”. This is accompanied by a hip-hop type funk drum beat-different and more flamboyant variations of which come in throughout this refrain into a female chorus returns,amid calling trumpet solos “love bum,bum,bum,bum”.

After all of this the song begins an entirely new instrumental cycle-going from a trumpet choir into a lightly Brazilian style funky electronic piano rhythm-before returning to a repeat of the first chorus. After this the song abruptly slows to a crawl before an EWF style vocal chorus of “LOVE LOVE LOVE” followed up by a complex string and acoustic guitar driven latin jazz rhythm kicks in with both the first and second vocal chorus responding the sound and emotional attitude. That leads into an instrumental bridge showcasing tbe upright bass of Paul Kleber accompanying vibist David Friedman. As Friedman’s bass fades out,Kleber’s bass fades back into a fade out of all the variations of the different “love” related vocal refrains from throughout the song-accompanied by a swinging,acoustic guitar led bossa nova up to the very end of the song itself.

What can I say about this song today? To boil it down? It just has everything. It has the funky electric guitar,the swinging jazzy drum brushing,the Brazilian percussion flavor and a harmonic mood that lays somewhere in the middle between wonder,anticipation,relaxation and of course love. Generally speaking in hip-hop,sampling of any sort is used as a form of archival musical identification. In this case a range of samples from everyone from  70’s jazz and jazz/fusion groups such as Catalyst,Bobby Hutcherson,Branford Marsalis,Antonio Carlos Jobim,Les DeMerlealong with soul/funk from The Sueremes with the Temptations and The Sylvers to create a live band Latin jazz/funk fusion flavor. Each sample is arranged in such a way where it sounds like a band actually interacting off their strengths and weaknesses as musicians-though the broken up nature of sampling is still made clear to the ears as well. It’s one of my very favorite examples and uses of jazz and funk sampling in the immediate post millennial era.

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Filed under 2002, Brazil, Brazilian Jazz, DJ's, Funk, Funk Bass, Fusion, Hip-Hop, Jazzanova, Motown, Sampling