Single Review: Smudge All Stars – Brutal Funk

Funk collective Smudge All Stars have released their second single Brutal Funk today.  

Smudge All Stars was formed by Richie Stevens, drummer, percussionist, producer and the son of British free jazz pioneer John Stevens. The funk collective is made up of a wealth of musical stars such as Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, George Clinton, Alfred ‘Pee Wee’ Ellis, Fred Wesley and James Gardiner-Bateman. 

Brutal Funk opens with strums in the style of the lute, a surprising but delicate introduction which is then swept away by the funky beat and electronic accompaniments. The contrast between the traditional and the modern melodies is a playful touch and I like the layering of groovy guitar plucks with heavy beats and scratching vinyl. As the track progresses the funky elements grow to form an infusion of R’n’B, hip hop and funk. The grooviness intensifies as the velvety vocals from British soul singer Mary Pearce kick in, aided by some soulful harmonies. Jamiroquai’s DJ D-Zire also features on the track, lending a hand with the beats and adding his signature flair to the groove. The track is funky through and through, delving into the story of funk itself with lines such as “everybody wants to know, what’s the story of the funk. Here’s what we got told, a very long time ago…” The chorus of “I wanna funk with you, wanna funk the way you do” has an almost sensual edge when sung in Mary Pearce’s soulful style. Smudge All Stars are bringing us the funk and soul we never knew we needed and Brutal Funk is just gateway.  

Speaking of Brutal Funk, Richie Stevens said, “Whilst chatting with Dr Funkenstein himself, it seemed relevant to ask ‘what is the funk?’ seeing as I would finally get a reliable answer. The Dr said ‘when you’ve given all you’ve got and you reach really deep to find the very last drop…….that’s the funk!’ So Brutal Funk is the intro to the journey. A celebration of that most elusive genre – FUNK!” 

Brutal Funk follows the debut release Our Lives earlier this year which delved into the realm of reggae and featured Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Earl Sixteen and Dennis Bovell.  

Brutal Funk is taken from Smudge All Star’s upcoming self-titled debut album which was eight years in the making and which is set for release on 27th November. Find out more about Smudge All Stars here and have a listen to Brutal Funk below.  

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