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Published: 2003/01/23
by Ray Hogan

Keep on Pushin’ – Global Funk Council

The popularity of funk music in the scene served several valuable purposes.
At its most basic, the hard-to-describe, easy-to-identify music provides for
orgiastic dancing and helps provide the ritual aspect for many people’s
concert-going experience. It also turned on a younger audience to a bevy of
semi-lost legends. Members of The Meters, James Brown’s band and P-Funk have
rightfully regained their stature in the public eye and, in a handful of
cases (notably George Porter Jr., Russell Batiste) have wholeheartedly
immersed themselves
in the scene and found admiration from a generation that otherwise would
likely never had heard them.
With that also came a slew of bands – most featuring music school graduates
and a
horn section – which had the chops but not the hooks (or the elasticity
makes the music so vital) and the craft to create songs that get stuck
your head.
The members of Global Funk Council, one of the hardest touring bands on the
circuit, fall somewhere in the middle, judging from their new disc. On
Keep on
Pushin’ (the band’s roster has since stripped down slightly),
the group comes out blazing on the opening instrumental "GrooveBagg." It’s a
fitting showcase that introduces the band’s strengths. At its core, GFC’s
configuration is percussionist Steve Haney, bassist Jonathan Stoyanoff,
drummer Eric Bolivar and keyboardist/vocalist Anthony Smith. With every cut,
except for a brief interlude, having special guests in the form of
guitarists or horn
players, GFC is more reminiscent of when groups like The Meters or Booker T.
and the MGs used their wonderful chemistry to serve as a house band of
This group would benefit from pursuing a similar tactic — or at least
a lyricist.
The instrumentals are strong but things derail when Smith’s
vocals are thrown into the mix. He’s a serviceable singer but lyrics aren’t
the group’s strong suit. On "Keep On Pushin’," the disc’s 12-minute
centerpiece, he informs, "I’ve seen so many places in this crazy life/I’ve
seen so many faces, playing my music night after night." That might have
worked for a 1980s hair-band power ballad but in a more advanced musical
setting, it’s just callow. Similar songs take on a Self-Help 101 lyrical
stance as well. Thankfully, there’s a good balance of pretty powerful
instrumentals to offset these. "Trousers for John" is an uppity groove that
is aimed straight at your feet. Smith, in particular, demonstrates not only
high-caliber musicianship but a deep well of ideas. His core group is
tastefully augmented by the crew of guitarists and horn players every time
they join the fray. Altoist Nate Souders is particularly tasty on the
aforementioned "Trouser."
All of this may be irrelevant now as the group’s web site informs that the
current line-has changed and "Keep On Pushin’" may just be a
reminder for those who saw the earliest incarnation of the band. It’ll be
interesting to see where the new setting takes them.

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