Shall we upload albums as bittorrents?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Poets of Rhythm

German funk band Poets of Rhythm began in Munich after friends Boris Geiger and Jan Weissenfeldt were first exposed to the raw funk that came out of the U.S. in the late '60s and early '70s. Soon, they decided to form their own group, and with Geiger on percussion and vocals, Weissenfeldt on guitar, his brother Max on drums, and Jan Krause on bass, they started writing their own material. After releasing their first single, "Funky Train," in 1992, the Poets' (who had by now added Till Sahm on organ, Michael Voß on trumpet, and Malte Müller-Egloff on alto sax) debut full-length, Practice What You Preach, came out (it was later reissued in 2006 on Daptone). More 7"s came in the following years, though they were often credited to groups like the Pan-Atlantics, Organized Raw Funk, Bus People Express, the Woo Woo's, and the Soul-Saints Orchestra.

Though the bandmembers had already begun to make a name for themselves in Europe thanks to their brand of hard funk that was heavily indebted to important outfits like the Meters and Parliament, they had yet to have much exposure in the States. That changed when Quannum's Lyrics Born found one of their singles in a record store in New Orleans and was impressed by what he heard, though he knew nothing about the group. By chance, when Latyrx's debut came out in 1997, LB got into contact with Jan Weissenfeldt, who was distributing The Album in Germany. The next year, when the MC was looking to record solo material, he went to the Poets of Rhythm for backup help and in 1999 "I Changed My Mind," a minor hit in the Bay Area, came out. The Poets' true sophomore record (they had issued label "compilations," which mostly consisted of tracks from their various incarnations), Discern/Define, featured nearly the same lineup as before -- Wolfgang Schlick took over on sax and added flute as well -- was released on Quannum in 2001. What Goes 'Round came out the following year on Shadow, and the band also showed up on the song "The Bay" from Lyrics Born's 2005 album Same !@#$ Different Day.

Discern/Define (Quannum Projects 2001)

The Poets of Rhythm are a live funk and groove band from Munich, Germany whose approach to funk music is down and dirty. Though often classified as acid jazz, The Poets music doesn’t follow the heavily produced trend of the acid jazz genre, opting instead for a dirtier sound.

After releasing a string of singles for the Hotpie and Candy label and one hard to find LP on Soulciety Records, the Poets of Rhythm come correct on this long overdue worldwide release on Quannum Projects.
Founded a decade ago in Munich, Germany, these innovators in the rare groove style are seven and sometimes eight musicians deep with lead vocalist/percussionist/musical director Boris "Bo Baral" Geiger; guitarist/musical director JJ Whitfield; bassist Jan Krause ; organ/moog stimulator Till Sahm ; alto saxophonist Malte Muller-Egloff; alto-saxophonist Wolfgang Schlick; trumpet player Treetop; and drummer Max Whitfield.

After raising eyebrows on the "I Changed My Mind" single on the Quannum Spectrum recording backing up Lyrics Born and riding the wave of interest from early-21st century hip-hop fans in old-school funk and James Brown -era breakbeat, Discern/Define modernizes space jazz over big-beat, soul harmonies, and kinky guitar rhythms with psychedelic tendencies. But the luscious music aside, the overwhelming production by the Soul-Saints is what distinguishes this record from other faceless funk records put out in the '90s and the early 2000s.

With earthy room sounds that compliment the organic nature of the drums and bass with just a slight hint of feedback, all the best elements of classic soul and the liveliness of live hip-hop are blended together to give the record a timeless quality.

01 Discern/Define
02 Smilin' (While You're Crying)
03 Ham Gallery
04 Plus Plus
05 We
06 The Jaunt
07 Eulogize the Source
08 Fondle Rock
09 Moira
10 Guiding Resolution
11 Survival of the Freshest

What Goes 'Round (Shadow 2002)

The bad news about this German funk ensemble is that it's shamelessly rewriting James Brown. But that's also the good news -- after all, Brown himself isn't doing it anymore, and a world without this sort of raw, horn-heavy, hip-shaking funk is no kind of world for anyone to have to live in. So really, to acknowledge that there's not a single original horn stab, guitar cluck, vocal grunt, or rimshot to be found anywhere on this album is not to criticize it, but to celebrate it. The majority of this program is a reissue of the band's 1993 release, Practice What You Preach; two additional tracks were previously issued as part of the 1995 compilation Original Raw Soul, Vol. 1. As you might expect, there's no discernible difference in sound or style between the two periods; every song is a straightforward throwback to James Brown's glory days in the 1960s, with intricate cross-rhythms bobbing and weaving around the funky horn lines and singers shouting catch phrases and exhortations to the band. Only the two slow tunes -- an awful number called "What You Doing" and a marginally better one titled "It Came Over Me" -- drag the proceedings down. Recommended overall.

01 Funky Runthrough, Pts. 1-2 (4:35)
02 More Mess on My Thing (4:10)
03 Funky Train (4:46)
04 Practice What You Preach (3:25)
05 Choking on a Piece of Meat (2:24)
06 North Carolina (2:49)
07Upper Class (3:38)
08 Strokin' the Grits (4:13)
09 The Plan (3:04)
10 What You Doing (3:33)
11 Hotpie's Popcorn, Pt. 1 (3:45)
12 Saltin' the Soup (4:10)
13 It Came Over Me (3:26)

found on :

Practice What You Preach (Daptone 2006)

Arguably the pioneers of the new heavy funk movement, Munich's own, Poets of Rhythm, recorded this debut album in 1993, years before Desco, Daptone, DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist, or any of the rest of us ever got covered in the filth of raw funk. However, Practice What You Preach can be measured beyond the modern scene and stands tall as one of the great full length Funk-Soul albums of all time.

01 More Mess On My Things
02 Upper Class
03 Funky Runthrough Part 1 & 2
04 What You Doin'
05 North Carolina
06 Practice What You Preach
07 Strokin' The Grits
08 It Came Over Me
09 The Plan
10 Choking on a Pïece of Meat
11 Saltin' the Soup


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