Recently I wondered aloud what was the all time funkiest song in the world. Impossible to name one of course but I was curious to see what folks would come up with. With so many Facebook friends with about half being comedians, I got about 40 comments. The first was Debbie Boone’s You Light Up My Life. I’m sure that might be the unluckiest song in the world but things got much better once the peoples started looking in the right places. I then posted 20 songs I felt any of which could be the funkiest. Soon after I found another 5 tunes that needed to be on the list. Here is a breakdown of the 25 funkiest songs ever. Any discussion of funk has to start with two of the most prolific funksters.
James Brown and George Clinton
Both are represented on my list twice and could’ve held down a top 26 list on their own. I went with The Payback and Papa Don’t Take No Mess from James and Give Up The Funk and Flashlight from George’s Parliament. It was illegal to have a house party back in the day without these strong songs.
Kool & The Gang
This self contained band was also represented twice with Jungle Boogie and Funky Stuff. A Facebooker mentioned Kool’s Get Down On It. Clearly this commenter was too young to remember that this song came during their switch to disco.
Sly & The Family Stone
provides a very popular choice, Thank You Fa Lettin Me Be Mice Elf (agin). Sly and his crew is another group that can fill any funk list all by themselves.
Earth Wind & Fire
In their heyday, they were the standard. They will always have a special place in my heart because of their two album in one year output, and the second Gratitude was a double, giving us a live side and more great new jams.
Jupiter from their All N All album because I can’t get enough of that tricky bass line.
What can’t he do? Stevie had several nominations, with me offering You Met Your Match but it didn’t make the final list. To paraphrase the guy in the movie Fargo, “With Superstition, you got no complaints!”
When you hear the opening fire alarm in Fire, you know you’re about to burn it up! (When doing “the bump” to this song and try not to bump your partner into the next room.
Billy is the drummer all the drummers I knew wanted to be.
His Total Eclipse was seriously considered for the piano solo alone, but I used Red Baron for this list. Classic thumping funk.
Return To Forever
Dayride makes the cut because it blows me away every time I hear it. This is one furious jam, with perfectly sloppy drums- a quick hitter at only 3:28 with not a second wasted.
Sam & Dave
I tried to capture the wild variety of funk so I went back to Hold On I’m Comin’, the first funk I was exposed to.
The rap world is represented here by Don’t Believe The Hype. This is funk you can smell a mile away.
Tower Of Power
This west coast super group had snap crackle and plenty of pop.
What Is Hip? is sharp as a tack on Sunday and another easy choice.
Deciding what cut to include was most difficult given his enormous catalog. I finally settled on Musicology because it was a funk song talking about funk.
Rufus & Chaka Khan
You Got The Love is on this list because of Ray Parker Jr.’s opening guitar line. This is “hold your nose” funky!
I had to give Mr. Duke 2 slots with Funny Funk coming in as my personal favorite. When George’s Reach For It came out, everybody thought it was the other George, including the owner of the record store where I was working at the time. I suggested he use it for the background to his radio commercial and it worked well.
We’re A Winner is an early entry to the world of funk, and is still as nasty as a crusty knee scab.
I thought I was done with the above 20, but soon realized I had left out some major chunks of funk. Mandrill’s Fencewalk, Funkadelic’s Comsic Slop and Rick James Bustin’ Out were all added. Oh but I still wasn’t done. Graham Central Station’s The Jam truly deserves a spot. And I can’t believe I left out this one- Silly Putty by Stanley Clarke. I feel a personal relationship with all of these songs. They’ve taken me to a place I needed to be, and will always try to get to. Funkville USA!