Funky Gospel, Spiritual, & Protest

Gospel Funk is a very specific subset of funk. Everything that applies to funk ("deep funk," "hard funk," "rare grooves," etc.) applies as well to that portion of gospel music that is so funky as to be nearly indistinguishable from its secular counterpart. As with all things "soul," it's not about crossover dreck with a white, Beatles-esque backbeat (bad Motown wannabes). And it's certainly not to be confused with goofy, "white gospel" records that attempt to attract youth by covering soul hits. No, the real thing is just that: southern-fried, sun-dried, sweat-drenched, speaking-in-tongues religion -- as performed by African Americans at the peak of the Age of James Brown Enlightenment.

The church and the people of the period were inseparable, and that's the reason for the many great singers and shouters. There are the chief legends of gospel funk, such as the Violinaires and the crazy masterpiece by Rev. Carlton "King" Coleman (former DJ with earlier records produced by James Brown), but a few others are right up there; still others are at least worth including. The first LP by the Voices of East Harlem, for instance, is widely known if overrated; and Edwin Hawkins Singers' "Oh Happy Day" remains the all-time #1 hit single. Besides the great funky tracks on gospel albums, there are myriad gospel-funk tracks on funk and soul-jazz (Blue Note, Prestige, etc.) LPs. And there are the singles. And of course there are the well-known soul singers who famously juggled the secular and religious (Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Aretha Franklin..).

Buying: Gospel funk appears throughout soul-jazz, soul, and funk records. As with other deep, rare funk, you want to cultivate an U.S. source who appreciates it and can get it. Gospel funk is a "final frontier" that hasn't been picked up on much abroad.

Funky Gospel, Spiritual, & Protest LPs

7Reverend Bernard Avant & the St. James Gospel Choir; Stax/The Gospel Truth GTS-2710; 1972
7Donald Byrd: A New Perspective; Blue Note BST-84124 (jazz gospel w/voices)
8Prof. Harold Boggs & the Boggs Specials: That's Where It's At; Nashboro 7090 (for "God's L.S.D.")
7The Children of Israel: Jesus is a Friend of Mine; Gospel Express SKS-144; 1978
9Rev. Carlton Coleman [Rock Gospel Time/The Rock Ministry]; Brunswick BL-754173; 1970
8Congress of Racial Equality (CORE): Sit-In Songs--Songs of the Freedom Riders; Audio Fidelity/Dauntless DS-4601; 1962 (w/booklet)
9The Marion Gaines Sisters: Leaning on the Everlasting Arms; Stax/The Gospel Truth GTS-3504; 1974 (w/Herman Kelly, Cash McCall, Sonny Burke..)
7Nikki Giovanni & the New York Community Choir under the direction of Benny Diggs: Truth is On Its Way; Right-On RR-05001
7Nikki Giovanni & the New York Community Choir under the direction of Benny Diggs: Like a Ripple on a Pond; Atlantic/Niktom NK-4200; 1973 (funky gospel w/spoken poetry)
7Gospel Hi-Lites: People is a Funny Thing; Inspirational Sounds IS-1001; 1978 (McKenzie)
7The Edwin Hawkins Singers Live; Buddah BDS-5606; 1974
The Loving Sisters: The Sounds of a New Era; ABC/Peacock PLP-176
7The Loving Sisters: A New Dimension; ABC/Peacock PLP-187; 1973
8The Loving Sisters: The Sisters & Their Sons; ABC/Peacock PLP-59204; 1974
6Loving Sisters & Love Act: A New Day; ABC/Peacock PLP-59220; 1975
9The Violinaires: Groovin' with Jesus; Checker CK-10067
7The Voices of East Harlem: Right On Be Free; Elektra EKS-74080 (w/Montego Joe)
8Al White & the Crown Miracles: New Directions; Heavenly Sound SL-1009; 1979/1978
7Mary Lou Williams; Folkways/Mary FJ-2843; 1964 (w/Grant Green)

Partly Funky Gospel LPs

7Ray Bryant: Lonesome Traveler; Cadet LPS-778; 1966 ("Brother This 'N' Sister That")
Donald Byrd: Profile; Blue Note BST-84022
Donald Byrd: Tender Feelin's; Blue Note BST-84035
7Celebration; Motown/MoWest MW-119-L; 1972 ("Are You Ready")
7The Coasters: Coasting; Salsa Picante SPLP-10001; 1979/1978 ("One of These Days")
8Phil Flowers & his Family: Alpha & Omega; Longwood L-20001; 1973 (psyche funk/gospel)
8Norman Habel/Richard Koehneke: For Mature Adults Only..; Fortress Records/MosAnn Enterprises/Bob Mosley BM-768; 1968 ("Adam Was a Man"; spoken w/music; w/Corky Hale--harp & voice, Joe Newman, Eric Gale, Chuck Rainey, Martin Luther High School Choir..; soul-jazz vocal, funky gospel, harp, kid funk, sex ed, strange religion)
7Isaac "Redd" Holt Unlimited: Isaac, Isaac, Isaac; Paula LPS-4006; 1974 ("Let the Spirit In")
8Dick Hyman: Fantomfingers; Project 3 PR-5057-SD; 1971 ("Put Your Hand in the Hand"; funky!; plays a Baldwin)
6The "In" Group: Today's Pop Hits; Alshire/Q.M.O. 1 ("Oh Happy Day"; 2-LP; covers by studio band)
6Ahmad Jamal with Voices: The Bright, the Blue, & the Beautiful; Chess/Cadet LPS-807; 1968 ("I Wish I Knew")
9Esther Marrow: Sister Woman; Fantasy 9414; 1972 (funk; "Turn On to Jesus")
7Milt Matthews, Inc.: For the People; Catalyst CAS-1111
6Rufus: Rags to Rufus; ABC ABCX-809; 1974 ("Swing Down Chariot")
8Baby-Face Willette: Behind the 8 Ball; Argo LP-749; 1965/1964
7Uncredited: More Soul Sauce; Alshire/Someret SF-34800 ("Oh Happy Day")
7Freddie Roach: All that's Good; Blue Note BST-84190 (soul-jazz organ w/voices; blues-gospel)
7Freddie Roach: My People--Soul People; Prestige PRST-7521; 1967 (soul-jazz organ; "I'm On My Way")
7D.J. Rogers; Capitol/Shelter SW-8915; 1973 (funk/funky gospel)
6Timmy Thomas: The Magician; T.K./Glades 7510; 1976 (disco funk/gospel funk)

Funky Gospel 45s

8John Barfield with the Truth Ensemble: The Blacks/The Truth Ensemble: Lift Every Voice & Sing; Shakat SH-707; 1974 (A-side spoken tribute/plea for inverse racial recognition)
9[Carlton] King Coleman: The Boo Boo Song Parts 1 & 2; King 6085; 1967 (James Brown production)
9Carlton "King" Coleman: The Boo Boo Song Part 1/Rock Gospel Mash King 6085; 1967 (James Brown production)
9Leonard King & The Soul Messengers: The Barracuda/I've Been Saved; Inferno 2003 (mod funk/soul-jazz piano/e-piano/gospel)
9The Spiritual Four: If You Think Your God is Dead [Try Mine]/Jesus Cares About You; Sendus ASR-101; 1978
8The Swordsmen: I'm So Glad/Hip Thang; RCA/Getto-Kitty 74-0561

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