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Twin Cities Funk & Soul

October 4, 2012

I have been a big fan of the Wheedle’s Groove series from Light in the Attic records.  Over several records Light in the Attic exhumed Seattle funk and soul between 1965 and 1979.  Now Minneapolis’ own Secret Stash Records has done the same thing for my home town.

The Minneapolis funk and soul sound is Prince.  This collection discovers bands the predate Prince breakout by 15 years and bring you up the moment he arrived.  So the premise of this collection is that he did not appear out of thin air.  There had to be a history.  Sure enough the Secret Stash team was able to find a very cool scene.  I have lived here my whole life and was unaware of most of the artists Secret Stash found.   But that is not a surprise as this music was predominantly played by and for the African-American community.  Prince did not organically create a Minneapolis scene – he exploded nationally and then retroactively created a scene via his movie Purple Rain.  This collection shows the fertile ground he replanted his seed.

A few names on the compilation are known to me, but not for funk and soul:

  • Mojo Buford and Willie Walker, but for their blues
  • Morris Wilson, but for his jazz
  • Willie and the Bees – who had crossover local success in rock and roll bar scene

The funk and soul of this compilation would be unknown to most TC music fans except for the most ardent crate diggers.  So this is quite an amazing discovery.

So can you find some of Prince’s DNA here?  I can’t, but maybe on repeated listens I will find a whiff. The music on this collection is pretty diverse and follows the edges of what was happening nationally.  So there is nothing as revolutionary as Prince, but it is not pure imitation either – it was local cats trying to put their own stamp on things that were happening nationally.   So maybe that is the Prince connection – that you have permission to deviate from top-40 pop funk and soul conventions and mess with your genre.  Prince was able to experiment with basic funk and soul to the point he was able to invent a unique sound.

If you are local Twin Cities music fan or if you are a fan of Prince this album is required listening. If you are into the more current Rhymesayers scene – which has its foundations in crate digging – it is also required listening for you too!

Also the team at Secret Stash did a very nice job of packaging too (hurry while the first 500 purple vinyl editions are still available):


From → Music Reviews

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