Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

17

Ronnie Foster: Ronnie Foster: Two Headed Freap – 1973

Marc Davis By

Sign in to view read count
The critics hated Blue Note in the 1970s, and that might be an understatement. Me, I'm kind of intrigued.

Fans of good old hard bop, or even soul jazz, were largely left out in the cold. Blue Note in the '70s was a label struggling for its very existence, desperate to find a niche and snag some sales. All of which drove the critics and jazz purists nuts.

Richard Cook, in his 2001 book Blue Note Records: The Biography, is positively savage. "The music which the imprint recorded was full of noodling, posturing and modish idiocy. Scarcely any of the musicians who recorded for Blue Note during this period emerged with any real credit or credibility."

Even Richard Havers, in his wonderful 2014 book Uncompromising Expression—a must-own coffee- table history of Blue Note—doesn't ignore the critical consensus. He quotes Hugh Witt of Jazz Journal: "It is sad that a label with the reputation of Blue Note should be reduced to recording the casual meanderings of background pop music."

Still, if you like soul, funk and R&B, you can't help digging many 1970s Blue Note albums. Ronnie Foster's Two Headed Freap may be the poster child for the genre, for better or worse. I like it. Foster is an organ virtuoso and Freap is a cross between Sly & the Family Stone and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. In fact, the title track could be an outtake from ELP's Tarkus. It's that kind of keyboard-crazy funky weirdness.

Two Headed Freap is full of soul-funk deliciousness. In addition to the title track, check out the closer, "Kentucky Fried Chicken," a heap of organ excursions—yes, noodling, if you insist—based on a catchy funk riff. Or the opener, "Chunky," which is more of the same.

Unfortunately, Freap also includes a few soulless, funkless muzak tunes. "Summer Song" is soulful enough—it sounds like it could be an instrumental version of an old O'Jays tune—but it merely distracts from the catchier tunes. Ditto an instrumental take on Al Green's "Let's Stay Together."

It's true: By 1973, Blue Note had wandered very far from its hard bop roots. No need to mourn. If hard bop is your cup of tea, there's plenty to feast on in Blue Note's back catalog. But if you're cool with late '60s/early '70s funk, Two Headed Freap is a tasty buffet.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

Availability: Not exactly a rarity

Cost: $11 used, $17 new, $9.50 for MP3 files

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read My Fats Waller Obsession: Why Do We Collect Music? My Blue Note Obsession My Fats Waller Obsession: Why Do We Collect Music?
by Marc Davis
Published: May 31, 2017
Read Ike Quebec: Blue & Sentimental - 1962 My Blue Note Obsession Ike Quebec: Blue & Sentimental - 1962
by Marc Davis
Published: May 14, 2017
Read Jack Wilson: Something Personal – 1966 My Blue Note Obsession Jack Wilson: Something Personal – 1966
by Marc Davis
Published: May 1, 2017
Read Ronnie Foster: Two Headed Freap – 1973 My Blue Note Obsession Ronnie Foster: Two Headed Freap – 1973
by Marc Davis
Published: April 18, 2017
Read Bud Powell: The Scene Changes - 1958 My Blue Note Obsession Bud Powell: The Scene Changes - 1958
by Marc Davis
Published: April 4, 2017
Read Walter Davis Jr.: Davis Cup - 1959 My Blue Note Obsession Walter Davis Jr.: Davis Cup - 1959
by Marc Davis
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "The Best of Lou Donaldson, Volume 1 – 1957-1967" My Blue Note Obsession The Best of Lou Donaldson, Volume 1 – 1957-1967
by Marc Davis
Published: February 13, 2017
Read "Bud Powell: The Scene Changes - 1958" My Blue Note Obsession Bud Powell: The Scene Changes - 1958
by Marc Davis
Published: April 4, 2017
Read "Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra: Consummation – 1970" My Blue Note Obsession Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra: Consummation – 1970
by Marc Davis
Published: January 5, 2017
Read "Ronnie Foster: Two Headed Freap – 1973" My Blue Note Obsession Ronnie Foster: Two Headed Freap – 1973
by Marc Davis
Published: April 18, 2017
Read "Lee Morgan: The Sidewinder – 1964" My Blue Note Obsession Lee Morgan: The Sidewinder – 1964
by Marc Davis
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "Ike Quebec: Blue & Sentimental - 1962" My Blue Note Obsession Ike Quebec: Blue & Sentimental - 1962
by Marc Davis
Published: May 14, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor