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The Mighty Imperials: Thunder Chicken

AAJ Staff By

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Some of us just can't get enough of that down home dirty New Orleans funk. (Admittedly, some of us have already had enough; just hit "back" on your browser and proceed no further if that's the case.) Five years ago, the Mighty Imperials laid down the forty minutes of uncut grooves which would become Thunder Chicken ; but it would take some time and a few false starts (including a bootleg release that earned some underground attention back in 2000) before the Daptone label would serve the chicken up properly this October.

The Meters fully exploited the organ/guitar/bass/drums unit as a vehicle for funk in the '70s, and the Mighty Imperials continue in their early tradition with a bump and grind that seductively and irresistibly demands that you shake your booty. You most definitely wouldn't know the difference if you didn't have liner notes or a reviewer telling you this, but all four members of the band were sixteen when they made the record. (Joseph Henry, the vocalist featured on four tracks, was the only one old enough to buy smokes.) Apparently they skipped school to do it. Whatever. It's not the longest recording, but it's solid all the way through.

There's some contrast between the old school grooves of the instrumental tracks (seven) and the more peppy, James Brownish vocal outings (four). Predictably, guitar and organ get more time to stretch out when they don't have to share the stage with words, and on tunes like "Jody's Walk" and "Duck Hunt," the musicians make the most of very simple repeating riffs. Soloists don't get much space here, but that would be totally out of place. Minutes later, "Joseph's Popcorn" appears with unidentified horns in the background, another variation on the theme of repetition. "Take me to the bridge!", Henry shouts midway through. (Heard that before? Probably. Some of the rest, too.)

These inspired, sweeping gestures mine the funk tradition and expose its power to communicate raw energy through simple terms. Thunder Chicken is a thirty year-old time capsule that ought to perk up some ears to a classic sound that never died.


Track Listing: 1. Thunder Chicken; 2. Never Found A Girl; 3. Jody's Walk; 4. Duck Hunt; 5. Joseph's Popcorn; 6. Chico's Barnyard; 7. Kick The Blanket; 8. Funky Belly; 9. Ride Shank's Mare; 10. Soul Buster (Part 1); 11. Cold Sweat. 12. Soul Buster Pt. 2 (LP only).

Personnel: Personnel: Sean Solomon: guitar; Nick Movshon: bass; Leon Michels: Hammond B3 organ; Homer Steinweiss: drums. With Joseph Henry: vocals.

Title: Thunder Chicken | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Daptone Records

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