Defunkt: The Ultimate FUNK of the 1980's
Since this is something like a new beginning for the P*Funk Review I thought it appropriate to take yall right back to the beginning to kick things off!
When I first stated this website I surfed the net for other Funk websites that I could see examples of what other people were doing
I happened to come accross the Website of Joseph Bowie, the leader of Defunkt and since I wasn't having much luck at that time in finding many FUNK sites out there, I took a chance and wrote him a letter asking for some advice.
Bowie responded with some pretty good advice but the most important thing he said to me was "Bob, keep it real because there are a LOT of pretenders out there"
Needless to say I followed his advice :) I dunno if Joseph Bowie even remembers that email that I sent to him nearly 5 years ago, but I did want to take this space and time to thank him for the response.

Bellow is a short essay about Defunkt, written by yet another good friend of this website (and occasional contributor), Rickey Vincent AKA "Uhuru Maggot" the famous author, broadcaster and educator.

Enjoy -- Bob Davis



Rickey Vincent: On Defunkt


  • DEFUNKT is most definitely an EXPERIENCE!
    Do NOT sleep on these mugs, especially if you're a musician.
    (this is long, just a warning to those who ain't into this)

  • The shit they did in 1980-83, ripping apart jazz and funk boundaries was a TOTAL transformation toward what REAL JAZZ could have been in the 80's, in my strung out opinion.
    I REALLY thought Defunkt WAS the next stage in street-smart jazz from the 70's to the 80's: a rugged, ragged, musically intense, energetic, propulsive and ferociously funky set...
    A big band horn section, ripping electric guitar, driving, high speed drums & rhythm guitars, and sly and slick blues drenched vocals...yum yum
    If you listen to that early 80's Miles Davis, where he tries to get into some spastic funk/jazz with a nasty edge, and basically leaves you unsatisfied...DEFUNKT gets you all the way there...
    What Miles was trying to do, Defunkt was doing...What Kelvynator was trying to do, Defunkt had it down...I have an Ornette Coleman album from around 1980, with a stanky electric bass guitarist underneath Ornette's horn...seriously trippy funk...for my money, even Ornette was working toward what Defunkt had mastered...

  • Anyone bug on James Blood Ulmer's hysterical early 80's speed-metal-jazz-funk tracks? Well, Defunkt does that, and it actually sounds good! Featuring Vernon Reid on their second lp "Thermonuclear Sweat", they had an edge no one was in their league with, IMO
    I remember about this time Weather Report came out with this album around 1983 called "Domino Theory" with a *singer* laying out a song called "Can it Be Done?" That was actually a cool song, but it kind of reflected the demise of so much of the creative jazz-fusion era...

  • the lyrics went something like this:

    Can it be done
    Is there one, melody
    that's never been played
    How does it sound, can it be found
    that new song
    That's never been in the air...



  • This also came out around the time Prince was getting heat for his line on "Lady Cab Driver" where he says "It's Time for jazz to die..."
  • And young hip hoppers by 1985 were dropping science that hip hop has more relevance to the street than jazz...
  • To me Defunkt WAS that missing music, that living jazz, that street smart sheet that took skiiiilzz to play and cooked...
  • So even though they were unknown, unnoticed and morphed into a hollow shell of their original selves, I was a true and TOTAL Defunkt fan...all by myself out here in Cali, it seemed.

  • The Defunkt that totally took me over was their first lp, self-titled "DEFUNKT", on Hannibal, and available on CD from amazon.com last I checked. This has the original version of "Strangling Me With Your Love" and their twisted version of Chic's "In the Good Times" and some way out other shit, like the song "Defunkt" with these lyrics:

    I want to scream, but I gotta keep quiet
    to get close enough to tell you that
    the way you look at me
    is what's keeping me silent
    I live for you, but you wan't me to drop dead...



  • The anthology also cooks, because it just takes from the first 2 lp's, adds some live cuts, and a very ill 12" single they did.
  • But if you can get your hands on their first 2 albums, "Defunkt" and/or "Thermonuclear Sweat" then you're in for the real deal.
  • Any FUNK musician who's moved past the 'greatest hits' of funk stage needs to sniff these cats....
    Dont trip off of their shit after 1988...they just flipped their lineup like the cast of New York Undercover and went under...
  • Word is their live act gets BUSY, and you should't miss what the founder (Joe Bowie I think) has reinvented the band into ... if I was in NY I'd be at their shows and telling you how they sounded...





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