Moon Voyage Records
10 songs – 42 minutes
Funky To The Bone represents a welcome return to recording for Colorado’s masters of “funk ‘n’ roll”, each track served up with a foot-tapping side of soul. Band leader, Chris Daniels, put the original band together in the early 1980s and he and his cohorts have been serving up a spicy dish of pop, funk, soul, rock and blues ever since. After both Daniels and singer Freddi Gowdy took some time out to recover from serious illnesses, the band recently reconvened to record and release their 16th album, Funky To The Bone, which features 10 songs of uplifting, life-enhancing funk-soul-pop-rock music. With influences ranging from the 1950s to the present day (“Cool Breeze” even features some rapping from Chris Kimmel), this album should have something for everyone to enjoy.
The album kicks off with the title track, in which Colin Jones’ rocky, angular guitar riff is nicely contrasted and counter-pointed against the muscular horn section and a chorus that Tower of Power would love to have written. It’s a great way to start the album and a superb statement of intent.
Next up is Chris Kenner’s classic “Something You Got”, which has been recorded by everyone from BB King to Bruce Springsteen. Played slightly slower than many other version, the band emphasize the carnal desire of the lyrics, but with a joyful smile.
Many of the songs have a strong 1970s influence, from the wah-wah guitar of “Dance, Dance, Dance” and “Don’t Let Your Mouth Write No Checks” to the gospel-style backing vocals and even to one or two of the vocal melodies and harmonies themselves (“Nobody Knows), but this should not be taken as a criticism – that period produced some of the best funk, soul and dance music ever. And the serious quality of the musicians and the grooves they lock into on Funky To The Bone make it difficult to do anything other than get up and dance to this album.
The core of the band, in addition to Daniels and Gowdy, is Colin “Bones” Jones on lead guitar; Randy Amen on drums and vocals; Kevin “Bro” Lege on bass and vocals; Darryl “Doody” Abrahamson on trumpet and vocals; and Jim Waddell on sax, flute and vocals. Additional help comes from Billy Payne on piano and B3, Christian Teele on percussion, the horns of Darren Kramer, Bob Rebholz and Carlos Chavez, plus the voices of Hazel Miller, Coco Brown and Carl Carwell.
As may be obvious, Funky To The Bone is not by any stretch of the imagination a blues album. The closest that the band gets to blues is in the swing of “What A Day” or the shuffle of “Happy Birthday” (which has the excellent line ““Happy birthday baby… You know about 3 o’clock in the morning, darling, when you are all dressed up in your birthday suit, looking so fine and so cute, I hope all your dreams will come true.”), but neither track feels like a genuine blues song, perhaps because Chris Daniels & The Kings don’t hold themselves out as a full-on blues band. They describe themselves as a “funk’n’roll” band, which is a pretty accurate description.
Overall, this is a well-produced album of cleverly written songs, played with panache, exuberance and a big smile. If your tastes extend to the likes of Sam and Dave, Tower of Power or Earth, Wind & Fire, you will find much to enjoy in Funky To The Bone.