A few weeks back BET pleasantly surprised us all by putting on an awards show that wasn’t entirely ignorant and featured acts that didn’t make me want to cry out in despair for our music. My favourite part of the show was the tribute to the living legend that is… Charlie Wilson.
For the younger readers, Charlie isn’t just that old guy who sings with Snoop Dogg and Justin Timberlake. Nope. He’s one of the great musical pioneers with a career spanning from Funk to Soul to modern R&B and even a little bit of hip-hop in between. However, he is perhaps most famous for his work with The Gap Band who had a run of hits from the late 70’s through to the mid-80’s. Songs such as ‘Oops Upside Your Head’ and ‘Outstanding’ ensured their place in R&B history.
When picking a song for Funk Friday there was almost too much choice. In fact, scratch that. There WAS TOO MUCH CHOICE. It turns out that the Gap Band are one of the most sampled bands in history so I may just have to revisit their back catalogue in the near future. However, today, I have settled on… Early In The Morning…
The video is pure 80’s funk cliche. You’ve got the concert style video, cowboy hats and dance routines. I wish more bands these days would have dance routines in their videos. Sidenote: How are these guys dancing better than peeps like One Direction, when they’re double their age and carrying instruments? It’s because they’ve got the funk.
Notable samples of this classic include:
Janet Jackson – ‘If’:
The guitars at about 0.30.
AND of course:
Snoop Dogg ft Justin Timberlake and Charlie Wilson – Signs
Uncle Charlie’s adlibs are all over this song and then at 2:35 he adds an interpolation of the original song into this 2005 hit. Oooohweee!