It’s pretty easy to say that the 1970s was the decade where funk music grew and became a true force. So much so, that many disco and dance records from that decade felt some kind of funk influence. I’m going to feature a few 1970s dance classics that were full of that good old funk.
Just about everyone knows Isaac Hayes’ Theme From Shaft (and if you don’t, you best go find a version and play it). The first song I’ll feature was definitely inspired by the beginning of that song. Crown Heights Affair made some great dance music, but to say it wasn’t funky would be denying the truth. Check out “Dancin'” by the band, and dig those horn lines and that wah-wah guitar (the most obvious influence from Hayes’ hit).
Brass Construction was another band from the decade that made dance music funky. Their first album featured six songs with one word titles; the biggest hit of those “Movin'” hit #1 on the R&B chart and was a dance hit. Band founder Randy Muller was actually a classically trained flutist, but he mostly played keyboards and sung lead for the band. Incidentally, “Movin'” is much like “Dancin'” in that there isn’t much in the way of vocal verses, just a few lines or words that are repeated while the groove cooks. More horns on this one, including a shot from the horn section to kick things off.
Muller worked with Jeff Lane on Brass Construction’s first seven albums before he took over producing that band. Prior to their work in Brass Construction, Lane also worked with Muller on production and arrangements for the band B.T. Express. That group is probably best known for two things: the single “Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied)” and that the late artist/producer Kashif was a member. One of B.T. Express’ big hits was a mostly instrumental song called “Express.” Again, this one is full of funk (with strings and flutes), but low on vocals.
Those are just three of the many examples of funk working its way into dance music, or dance music incorporating funk. All of these songs were big hits on the dance charts, and did pretty well on R&B as well. I hope you enjoy these funky dance classics and have a good Friday! As always, thanks for reading and listening.