Get A Load Of This

Funky Butt Drum Club

Hammerhead Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Any time I see a CD come across my desk proclaiming that some band has "the funk," I tend to view it with some skepticism. I've survived many a band who have made such a claim, only to fall flat on their faces when they tried to get down, such as Limbomaniacs and 24-7 Spyz. Other bands, such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, have made funk a part of their career, only to show their greatest successes have come when they dropped the George Clinton stylings and got down to some serious rocking.

Well, count the Funky Butt Drum Club as a band who live up to their hype - and I gotta admit, I wasn't looking forward to listening to this disc. But Get A Load Of This has made more a believer out of me - so much, in fact, that I now listen to this disc for sheer enjoyment.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The band's name suggests that each member, at some point in the act, plays some type of percussion. This works in small doses, but when a song relies solely on percussion ("Poly went and Cracked her" comes to mind), it doesn't work as well, sounding like a marching band from hell. But what is even more striking about this six-piece band from the Champaign, Illinois area is that the only guitar you'll find is Josh Walden's six-string bass. Surprisingly, this combo sans guitar works, and works well.

Led by vocalist/percussionist Brandon T. Washington, Funky Butt Drum Club wastes very little time making their presence felt, featuring a sound which some might be amazed to find out wasn't created in a "name" studio. Saxophonist Peter Roubal, keyboardist Jesse Brown, and drummers Josh Quirk and Ian Shepherd round out the crew.

From the more serious tomes like "No Movie" and "Insecure," Funky Butt Drum Club deliver the message and pound it home effectively. Other numbers are much more light-hearted, and in the case of songs like "Breakfast" and "Funky Butt," are even laughable. (On "Funky Butt," a live number, Washington sounds a lot like ex-Frank Zappa guitarist Ray White.)

But were Get A Load Of This just a disc of happy-go-lucky funk, it would fail on the grounds that people might not take the band seriously. Don't be fooled, though; Funky Butt Drum Club is more serious than one would have expected. "I Have My Hands" deals with a man coming to grips with a troubled relationship, realizing that he can either walk back to the troubles or walk away - and whatever he decides, he's still got his self-independence. "Nowhere I Can Lean" likewise deals with the difficulty of making a decision, though the scenario is different: "You want me to keep away / Tempted, but I think I'll stay."

Get A Load Of This owes as big a debt to Zappa as they do to George Clinton's Parliament/Funkadelic, but they never lose their own unique voice on this disc - and that makes all the difference. This might be a more difficult title to find, but it's definitely worth the search.

Y'know, George Clinton was right: Free your mind, and your ass will follow!

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Hammerhead Records, and is used for informational purposes only.