The Rob, Funky Rob Way

Andrew Harrison

By Andrew Harrison

on 06.15.11 in Reviews

As if beamed in from an alternate African universe, Rob’s 1977 debut is an alien dance transmission propelled by layers of percolating percussion, so far ahead of its time that the six cuts here sound contemporary now. Listen to the just-escaped-from-Shaft wah-wah guitar of “Just One More Time” going up against the Moog behind Rob’s pleading vocals, or the wavering keyboards that hover over the melody on “Your Kiss Stole Me Away,” like a stolen, bizarre interstellar broadcast. This is different. This is the mothership.

This is the mothership

Rob was definitely a man with a musical mission. Said mission is what took him to the city of Takoradi in Western Ghana, searching for like-minded souls. The result was this disc, just 500 of which were originally pressed, but which has in the ensuing years become one of the secret classics of African funk. Much of the credit goes to the backing band, Mag-2. They were Ghanaian army personnel, equipped with the best instruments and some of the hottest talents under their leader, the wonderfully-named Amponsah Rockson. They amplified and enhanced Rob’s vision and helped make Funky Rob Way the little piece of glory that it is. With a huge imagination, a band rapport tight as the Famous Flames and a horn section as fluid as anything on a Willie Mitchell production, they make the tunes swing with a righteous, effervescent fury. “Loose Up Yourself” and the title track funk up breathless little riffs, the drummers working up a sweat, the trumpets glistening in the spotlight. It’s future funk not just to move the feet, but feed the head, too — and bring tears of joy to George Clinton’s eyes.