Walter "Junie" Morrison's Passing of the Funk Before He Passed

Walter "Junie" Morrison was a member of the Ohio Players in 1973. He passed on Jan' 21st 2017. Below is my recognition of his presence as my introduction to Funk. 

"Okay ,.. I think my love for funk happened the minute my older sister introduced me to the Ohio Players single, "Ecstacy" ... Not only was it an unusal guitar/bass riff ,.. but the piano line introducing each turn around could not be ignored ... Also Leroy 'Sugarfoot' Bonner's little subtle guitar riff laying low but not too deep was proof that funk just doesn't happen in bass and drums ,.. nor within the obviousness of a funky Sharp 9th chord ... The only other track to exercise that subliminal funk is "Thank You [falettinmebemicelfagin]" ... Sly's linear gut-funk guitar picking in between Freddie's chang-a-lang chord and Larry's pluck-funk is where the funk centrally dwells ... It was the new position of funk ... But back to Ecstacy ... The vocal entry sez it all "Ahhhhh' ,.. followed by "wanna tell you 'bout my baby, by baby" ... The constant pleading with a melody not quite suited for this riff in D ... The voice was a different tone ... The execution was a different execution ... The scream was devastating as it was followed a tad later by "Lovingyouisecstacytomeherenow" ,.. all on a G note with a slight drop off on the last two words ... And just as I wrote the phrase above without space is exactly how it sounded to me and was my favorite line to sing ... I remember hearing Corey [Living Colour] Glover sing something once and I heard a little bit of Junie in his voice and phrasing ... Ever since then I wanted to know if he had ever been influenced by "The Walt" ... Regardless, Ecstacy was a first for me ... The stars of that song were Sugar's guitar, Clarence 'Satch' Satchel's sax solo, the piano line, the organ solo, the high voices in the background [Ohhh NO! Gonna never do without you] already setting the style to come later in '74. But the biggest star on that single was ,.. Walter "Junie" Morrison's lead vocal ... Rise Into Paradise, sir ... To me, you surely were a gift ... And the gift you've given me and others will always be unmatched." 

- Deacon DIGG
Originally written on Feb' 16th 2017

My Ten All Time Favorite Albums: #8 "There's a Riot Going On" [Sly & the Family Stone]

"This is from an online FB music challenge where we were asked to list our 10 favorite albums for ten days. "There's a Riot Going On" was one of mine. Listing the title & group was not enough. I had to go into detail."   

Day 8 of 10 [10 days, 10 All Time Favorite Albums].

Oh, how I have waited to get to this one! I was going to save it for 10 but it's calling me. I had to decide between this or Sly & the Family Stone's "Stand" album. It was tough. Here's why Riot won out. The first time I heard "Family Affair" I was 11 and at Gina Serrant' party. I was dancing up a storm, precociously, and by myself. The song meant nothing and didn't generate curiousity. But it was the only song I remembered from all the songs played that night on the "record player." Two years later, I heard "If You want Me To Stay." The bass pulled me in. Then I wanted to know everything. When I finally heard "Riot" my reaction was "What??" I assumed that Larry must have been enhanced somehow because the bass was meandering and at times slightly out of tune. Then I put it to rest, for a long time. Oh, to be young and half full. But as I grew and knew more about myself, then so did my interest and understanding for this album. Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone", Laura Nyro's "Stoned Soul Picnic", and lyrics by Jimi Hendrix taught me that songwriting wasn't easy and just some hobby. It needed the commitment of the mind and memory & imagination & foresight. So when I read the lyrics to the Riot album I realized that this isn't just the rambling's of someone who had lost their way. This person WAS showing us the way. How did he [Sly] match the sounds to those words? So many are familiar with "Blood's thicker than mud." But there is also "Look at you fooling you." By '93, I came to accept the thudding sound of the opening of "Luv & Haight" and the dullness of bass & kick and the muddiness of background vocals, etc. I walked through the East Village with the songs pumping in my head and I swear I felt like it gave me my own pimp walk or stride. I discovered that funk is dirty and truly greasey. "Just Like a Baby" was perfect for me as I was feeling quite fetal during this time. And by the way, how many artists can take their #1 Billboard pop hit, a funk song that reinvented funk, and cover it themselves, making it a Hyde version and reinventing the previous funk with this yet another new funk? Oh well, I can't list my feelings about every single song because then it becomes a review; one that I would be happy to share anyway but, another time. But check this. I have heard this album a million times [some of my friends can verify this] and I still haven't reached the bottom of it. I'm always hearing something new or receiving yet another inspirational direction to go in with my own music. The one thing tho' that I should mention is that this is probably the first album with a silent track. The title of the album "There's A Riot Going On" was listed as a song at the end of side one. The time stamp was 0:00. There was no song. After becoming one with this record, many times, I couldn't help but imagine what a song with that title would've sounded like had they recorded it. My consumption of that wish got way too big for me. As a result, I composed and recorded a track with that title [kind of] to satisfy that void. I wrote it with a secured and assured feeling that "this is what it would've sounded like." I became all seven players. That's what this album has meant to me. It is not easy to put or paint your feelings or troubles within a song, much less an album of songs, and reach tons of people with their own inner RIOT going on. Sly Stone captured 1971. RIOT scrapes the gunk from the gutters. Imagine where the street meets the curb, with water carrying bits of paper, gum wrappings, cigarette butts, spit, and things that turn into a film of sludge. Then imagine that you have to scrape that up with a piece of cardboard, in New York City, of any past decade. That's this album. The GUNK of FUNK. No one else since has had that kind of gunk. There are many days when I felt gunky, and this album was the perfect soundtrack for those days, or those years gone by. I have no problems cleaning my own gunk, as long as this album exists. My own father had me cleaning gunk as one of my chores. So ,.. oh yeah, that's why this album for me, won out over "Stand." 

- Deacon DIGG

Orig' written: May 25th 2018

Album cover of Sly & the Family Stone's There's a Riot Going On. Copyright owners: Sony Entertainment. I do not own the copyrights.

Woodstock 1969: [Director's Cut]. I Should Have Been There

         So last night I caught a bit of 'Woodstock 1969: Director's Cut' on TCM. Seen it a million times. Anyone who knows me knows that I waited on Sly & the Family Stone's performance which was right after Santana'. And no matter how many times I watch, it always comes across as the most energetic and the coolest performance, ever. Being that it was the director's cut I was hoping that maybe a bit more of the Family Stone's set was injected into it. Perhaps another song performance from their set not seen before. Unfortunately, it was same strokes for same folks. Anyway, I use Santana as a marker to catch Sly. As I stated moments ago, Sly plays right after. I enjoy watching Santana’ performance, particularly because of Michael Shrieve's drum solo. STILL, an unbelievable, mature, and well thought out solo for a 16 year old, which was his age at the time. 

      I watch Woodstock at times thinking that I should have been an adult then. It was a time of a new way of thinking. A time when the youth finally grew taller than the omnipresent adults. And it all affected the music. There was nothing about the past stylistically involved in this new way of walking and talking. This in-crowd, existed without the old crowd, not because they didn't want their elders in but because the elders chose to remain out, and avoid change. Watching & listening to the music of Woodstock which seemed to sum up the previous 5 years, is like listening to John Lennon in the 1st Plastic Ono Band album attempting to kill everything about the Beatles that was previously within him. The sixties killed all lies that were commonplace in the decades before. Don't get me wrong. Lies have existed then and since then. But now and throughout the last 3 decades, at least, most lies are met with astronomical challenges, pushbacks, and a greater hunger for truth. I guess that's what the music represents to me. No-one saw it coming. As a result it was allowed its innocence and due process. So, what we got was a lot of true artistry. A heap of brilliance! And the lyrics gave commentary about 'what's happening now!' Very few controllers interfered with that music because even they didn't understand this new collection and sculptures of notes. They probably had the same reaction Dean Martin had which was an eye roll straight into the camera, immediately after the Rolling Stones performed on a show he was hosting back in’64 or ‘65. The stiff audience laughed along with him. It was that elder crowd laugh. A laugh mixed with a jeering and dismissive attitude. The laugh that implies, "They won't last. Our generation is better." Here's another laugh. The Rolling Stones are still here. A lot of people from that '64 night are not laughing anymore. They're all dead. Note: Your laugh is never the last to have. 
     Anyhoo, once it was discovered how much truth was written and sung about within the songs of that time, bullshit came along, first as a tiny smear. Today, the bullshit has accumulated to a record time mountain high and as a result music has been affected deeply. We are back in the fifties and before, where you had Perry Como, Pat Boone, Lawrence Welk and other artists with songs about nothing that lulled you into a false sense of conservatism and a "We're doing just fine" outlook ,.. to the music by artists of today [2000s] that in the opinion of sooooooooo many, create songs about nothing. In other words, don’t listen to the music; just watch the success. Funny, these are conservative times as well. 
     Where is the truth? It certainly is not in the music of today. Climbing down from a bullshit mountain is a slow and arduous journey. And it smells, the whole way. While we're trying to impede the building of Chump’s wall, we might want to impede building further bullshit in our society, as well. That’s a wall we are all tired of. Don't wish for another Woodstock. Wish for a new beginning. Woodstock is precious and shouldn't be copied. We tried it twice and they both failed. The sixties had its true truth. Now this generation needs to avoid further rehashing of ideas and find their truth. The truth that benefits us all. It's not like they don't have a reason to fight for something. Your war is here, and it has been waged against you. Pick up a guitar and fight back! But remember, any ammunition without truth on the tips are only blanks. Anyway, I digress. 
     I don't know what my ultimate point is here, but I don't care. I love Woodstock, I love the artists of the sixties, I love Sly & the Family Stone [all seven orig' members], and in my fantasies of reliving the sixties for myself I didn't realize that the '90s had become my sixties. I just had to flip it. 
     So in parting I say to you all ,.. peace. 
A sixties phrase no less ,.. but a phase that never gets old. 
- Deacon Digg
(p) June-5-2019

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