Welcome to part 2 of a special themed edition of Funky Friday. About three months ago, I did a post called “Just Do It.” The post was one that featured songs that had the words “do it” either in the title or in the lyrics. This time around, it’s more of the same, except all of these songs were released in the early 1980s. Some are fairly well-known; others may only be well-known to the immediate families of the band members. So here we go…
Welcome to all! You are right on time for another ride on the Funky Friday express! With guest stars: The Bar-Kays! Convertion! The Fatback Band! Grandmaster & Melle Mel! Raw Silk! Roger! The S.O.S. Band! And the Funky Friday dancers (again, some of y’all are going to have to fill in; no money in the blog budget for anyone who danced on any television show over the course of the last 50 years).
Let’s get into this with The Bar-Kays, the only artist to appear on both “Just Do It” posts. However, this Bar-Kays edition is a bit different. The version that appeared on the previous post was a horn based funk band. This version has jettisoned the horns in favor of synthesizers, a popular trend in the 1980s. But never you mind that, this jam is still funky. From 1982, here is “Do It (Let Me See You Shake).”
Not many people know a whole lot about Convertion; I don’t know too much about the group myself. What I do know is that the lead singer on this track is one Leroy Burgess. Burgess started out as a member of 70s soul group Black Ivory, but by the 80s he became a singer, producer and songwriter of some of the most well known dance classics of the New York dance and disco scene. He serves as a co-writer on this song, “Let’s Do It.”
The Fatback Band was one of those groups you could count on to give you at least one funky song to groove to each year. Not long after they helped put rap on the radio (with “King Tim III (Personality Jock)”, and released their biggest hit album, Hot Box, the band came storming back with the album 14 Karat. From that album, here’s the jam “Let’s Do It Again.” It does make a nice follow-up to Convertion’s “Let’s Do It,” don’t you think?
By the time “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It) was released, rap had become a presence on the radio. Melle Mel was a member of Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, who had their biggest hit ever with “The Message” in 1982. The following year, Melle Mel left the Furious Five and released this classic about the drug game. With a groove lifted from the dance classic “Cavern” by Liquid Liquid, “White Lines” would go on to become a dance and rap classic. Then in 1984, Melle Mel would garner more fame by his rap on Chaka Khan’s classic “I Feel For You.”
Another dance classic from the West End record label is Raw Silk’s “Do It To The Music.” I don’t really know a whole lot about this group, but I do know that this song stayed in heavy rotation in 1982 on my radio. It’s one of those funky dance smashes that people who know it love and revere even to this day.
The video below says Zapp & Roger Troutman are the artists on the song “Do It Roger.” However, while Zapp may have played on it, the actual song was billed to Roger (Troutman) as a solo act. Troutman was a member of Zapp, so it isn’t like he stepped outside the family tree to do his solo thing. Troutman and his “talk box” had just come to fame with that band, and the funk, dance and R&B hits continued in his solo career. “Do It Roger” is the follow-up single to his cover of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.”
Last, but not least, we have the S.O.S. Band. Their debut single, “Take Your Time (Do It Right)” was a out of the box smash in 1980. This song is their biggest R&B hit and it’s easy to see why. It has all the elements of a funky dance smash. It would stay in the #1 spot for five weeks, but the group would not have another top ten hit until three years later, with “Just Be Good To Me.”
Just like the earlier “Just Do It” post, all these songs have some kind of funk in them. Funk had become a part of rap songs, but had also changed from bands with horn sections to smaller groups powered by synthesized instruments. That single move may have signaled the end of funk being a part of the R&B mainstream; if you look at R&B today, you would be hard pressed to find any bands of note, whether playing in the classic 70s style or the synthsized 80s groove, at least not in the mainstream.
But for today, the 80s get the “Just Do It” treatment. I hope you enjoy these songs. Thanks for listening and reading.