A controversial defence

** Due to the controversial nature of this blog I should state that this is my opinion alone, and not necessarily that of the whole Fat Cat Soul Band **

A few weeks ago I was doing some sorting and tidying in my flat.  From the next room I heard my lovely girlfriend shout “Simon, we need to talk”.  So, heart in mouth, I head into the other room to see her standing there, holding something that is supposed to elicit shame and embarrassment in me. I know what you’re all assuming, but no you’re wrong.  In her eyes this may be considered worse….

It was my “One night alone… live” Prince boxset.

A small argument ensued around a) whether I should own such an item (and have it out in the open for just anyone to see), and b) whether Prince is in fact any good.

Prince has written some incredible funk songs and I will happily defend that point against anyone.  The arrangements from the structure to the use of horns is always so tasteful, and it always grooves. On nearly every album he’s done there is at least one killer funk tune – there’s a reason that people like Maceo Parker are happy to play with him (besides the cash).  Check out these examples for some slightly lesser known examples:

FUNK – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iPcUFNR2aA
The Work – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYb_Kl-qKcI
Family Name – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXWbNotSawI&feature=related
Get on the boat (sorry for the image used) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zk0_U7siJc
Musicology – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bG301CI1rHs&feature=related
Ol’ skool company – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuGrQPf_ioY

Now I know that you could probably put up a load of links to songs that would make me cringe (and even more photos of his outfits from the past) but these songs are great and the guy really knows how to do funk. Not only that but he (and importantly his band) put on a really exceptional live show.

Now to be balanced and to show that I’m not blindly naive I should share this brilliant story from Kevin Smith http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy_cLJ19HMg&feature=relmfu. Follow the links for the whole story – I apologise for some of the language in this but the guy can really tell a story. I respect Prince and recognise talent, but clearly he can sometimes come across as very very weird.

So whilst I will defend my admiration of some of Prince’s music, I wouldn’t say he’s in my top 10 of people I want to have a beer with!  Mind you, it could be worse… Lionel …. just saying Nat… ;)

Soul and Funk never get dull

We’ve been busy recently with various weddings and parties. The Weddings have all been fantastic and we’ve been lucky enough to have been hired by some genuinely lovely couples. Their guests have all been up for a good time, and been kind enough to dance through our set, and chat to us afterwards.

I think it helps that we all genuinely enjoy, and get a buzz out of playing. That seems to come across and people are more receptive to a band that is having a good time whilst they play. It struck me whilst we were playing “Signed, sealed, delivered” (for the hundredth time), at a brilliant wedding in Bradford-upon-Avon, that I never get bored of playing the songs we play! We have not only gigged them countless times, but we’ve also rehearsed them probably just as many times again. There are some songs that we do that are different to the original (“Tainted Love” being a prime example), and I get excited about people hearing it and seeing the penny drop as we mix it up with another popular melody. But I even still get a kick out of playing the songs exactly as per the recording.

Soul and funk never get dull!

That’s partly down to the vibe, and feel of the songs. They always lift your spirits. It’s also down to how amazingly well written the songs are as well. Stevie Wonder is an absolute genius! The man wrote so many timeless hits that are more musically interesting and catchy than thousands of records that have come since.

A couple of fun Stevie links:
With another legend http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJYUSdX-Rps&feature=related;
covered regularly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCPjeOPjH5Y
the bass player on this made me want to sell my bass http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CZtxgl6qNo

Thinking of the guys who play in the background I’m constantly amazed by how many of the songs from our set were originally backed by the same bunch of guys – The Funk Brothers. All you have to do is scroll down on their Wikipedia page for a list of songs they played on: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Funk_Brothers

It reads like a list of essential records from that period. Incidentally if you think any are missing then it’s likely that they were recorded by the guys at Stax – Booker T and the MG’s, or the LA group The Wrecking Crew. These guys were all incredible musicians who carved their own personalities into the songs. James Jamerson (bass) alone is idolised by bass players everywhere. Just check out the chorus line to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xz-UvQYAmbg for tasteful and just right, or if you want to hear him play all over the fret board then listen to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8YPxkZ6m3s&feature=fvwrel – not a single bar is repeated – the guy was a monster player.

Sadly they never really got the fame that they deserved in their hay-day. They were the ultimate session band and deserve all the respect and admiration that the records they played on have.

For us we’re just happy that they made all the songs so interesting and fun to play. It means that we get a kick out of them when we learn them and when we play them for the hundredth time.