Unsung 🎵 Con Funk Shun Straight From The Heart 🎵 Unsung Episodes 2022Dec 05, 2022
the story of confunction in 1978 confunction took the charts and the dance floor by storm with a party anthem called fun boom it fell and hit so hard fun fun we had fun and brought the house down and knew we had a hit indeed confunction he was a hit machine they produced four gold albums and turned live shows into house parties with a sound that ranged from soulful ballads need fire departments from every county to come put out the stage was on fire the boogaloos would lose the mix up it had the sound that a dancer could jump on the dance floor and unleash it on seven members a strong performance it was also a very close brotherhood who lived for their music and for each other the terminology we used to use was brotherhood was you know one for all and all for one the show was a family what was my last name my name was devin paul herrera the show but at the height of its success disputes over money and music would break that family founded by leaving the band and the brotherhood to rule what could have been we just don't respect each other too much disagreement too many disputes things go things go and if you can't bend, then you break and they couldn't. to bend vallejo california the birthplace of confunction is east of san francisco and north of oakland in the late 1960s the region became a hotbed of social and political action while sparking a musical movement that it was inspired by the passion in the streets if you look historically at the r b soul artists that have come out of the bay area some
funkcats live here in the bay area. vallejo high school michael cooper and louis mccall promised to put together a band of their own they recruited friends and classmates including carl fuller danny thomas zebulon herrell dennis johnson and cedric martin and called them elves project soul right now we are in the ridge club district of field of vallejo california and this is the birthplace really of project soul right behind us is the mccall house where we put together the lewis mccall band and i started it right here they played in high school than some of the nightclubs in the area from the bay and many of the military bases, but a near tragic accident involving danny thomas and louis mccall in 1968 threatened to end his musical journey almost as soon as he started about a quarter mile from my house a car pulled up in front at me and he stopped and at the last minute I ended up hitting him from behind louis ended up going through the windshield I took the car to see how he was doing and when he o saw his whole face was split open danny thomas left with minor injuries but louis mccall suffered a fractured skull along with physical problems that would resurface over the next few years he was so determined to be in project soul he didn't let it stop him at all . out of the hospital maybe two days later he was drunk to complete his sound the group approached felton pilate a singer from the affluent east side of vallejo after his band broke up i remember watching him play with his band he played the trumpet he played the guitar he played the keyboards sang i said we had to get this guy out sorry ok wait i'll think about it for a bit let me assign in 1971 a singing group at the memphis stax record label called the soul The kids came to Oakland to play at a rally of the Political activist Angela Davis.
The group burned down their own van before the show and hired Project Soul to take its place. We are talking about a rehearsal day. We had not met the children of the soul. show up and play the music that was the scariest time of my career a year later the soul kids asked the seoul project to put them on the road bench and move to memphis a tu- haulage trailer we stacked up our gear there and we hit the road once in memphis the gang moved into two three bedroom apartments betting their fortunes together no matter the cost we didn't want to go back to valeo less than how we left it the idea was to stay there and make it happen move to memphis it also led them out the door in stacks where they received a musical masterclass with the likes of isaac hayes johnny taylor and the bar caves when our first big giveaway was opened for broadcast it was like an eye opening we had some uniforms made at the time we left to go into a little choreography that really put our group on a different level those things and they got into them and gave them something that they didn't bring with them.
California also found showgirl Rufus Thomas center stage at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1972 for a historic event that That's What I've Been Amazing 102,000 people at the Los Angeles Coliseum supporting a guy in pink shorts Romper to the left Break to the right Break to the wall We're going to love the knife We were so nervous and We did such a great job with all that nerve that we knew what we wanted to do the rest of our lives to make the band start to build a sound and an old-fashioned reputation at a local club called Rosewood. night after night we created a thursday night we call college night and that thursday night became number one night when word got out the group started to tour the south where they got another kind of education some of the areas were the deep south Yeah.
I know what I mean, so we're in areas where people my color shouldn't even walk, but these people are hiring us, right? They would say we can't stand them, but we love their music with their reputation. the soul of the rise project decided to change its name we did the california state fair back in '69 we learned a song from the nocturnal lighters called confunction it's great a lot of lyrics it has funk let's go with it confunctions they soon recorded a couple of records on a label Locally they didn't get anywhere, but in 1976 they signed with a major Mercury record label.
His self titled mercury debut included a club hit called I sure like it but the record failed to break into the top 50. hurry up and let's record something because we're assigned to mercury unfortunately you don't get a hit like that and we didn't get a hit but The show wasted no time going back to the studio this time with a proven manual ground wind and firing producer skip scarborough before the skip scarborough show was a well cooked meal so to speak skip added all the spices he just consumed from here over there the collaboration clicked secrets on their 1977 album took off quickly thanks to the song that soon became their calling card confunction eyes yes we're young and a little crazy let's write something that talks about ourselves our middle name is funk and funk means it's a heavy rhythm, we're dancing, partying, we're confusing, confunction was finding your group in more ways than one do ooh we knocked out the bird winning five who does that you know by the late 1970s the feature had established a unique musical identity a powerful combination of bay area funk and memphis seoul and the seven friends who helped conjure that sound. everyone brought something special to the mix carl didn't talk much but when he needed to talk he said what was on his mind michael very talented very smart very creative paul was a joker always been a joker still a joker cedric loves to fly that was his passion you'd find cedric flying a cessna and a
heartbeat danny sweet man he was so quiet and still stands proud he's like the mastermind for the family musical james used to call it apt she's lewis was the lead lewis was the glue without it things didn't happen and the band had another secret weapon ex-stax employee linda lou bolden now married to lewis mccall one of the smartest brilliant women in the music industry she was a huge influence within the band i managed her lighting i took their pictures i wrote their biographies so the crotch of their pants when they ripped them on stage i went to law school so i could read the contract which whatever they needed me became now all the band needed was a hit and while touring behind their album secrets they found out they had just everyone knows how many songs they can hear on the radio and they just take a horn line and they know what a hit is that's fire winning number one streamer fire ooh we knocked out bird winning five who does that you know fun hit number one with a bullet on the rb singles chart and helped make the album of secrets turned to gold because I'm an in-demand band we're seen by 10 to 15,000 people every night like three four times a week now we stay in real hotels and eat real food and go to designers like bill whitton and wear these skintight suits and diamonds that were costing three thousand dollars a piece, taking advantage of the success of Secrets Confunction, he moved to his house in Vallejo and settled in the Melody Lounge, an old nightclub that turned into a rehearsal room and studio we are on sonoma boulevard vallejo california across from the world famous melody lounge the melody lounge had a neon sign here we lit it up every night like the place opened the boys were stumbling down the street drunk looking for a drink you know how oh man this is a rehearsal room but you're welcome to stay and listen to us play within a few months of setting up shop in vallejo confunction they released their third mercury album love shine and released another dance hit, shake and dance, self explanatory, stand up and report. that booty to duty you gon' shake that rump and dance to the beat cause we gon' let you out shake and dance with me jumped to number five on the rb charts when love shine became confunction's second gold record meanwhile michael cooper and pilot feldman were firmly establishing themselves as the main songwriters and singers in the band, Felton was actually the lead singer and I was the guy who would yell and holland, you know, I was a hairstylist, Belton was a singer, a part of the Chemistry was that their voices were so different from each other that they're really polar opposites and I think that's what made it work for the upcoming album features Candy Michael and Felton produced another jet-propelled dance hit appropriately titled chase when chase me drop it was serious business when they ripped that we're like ok i took my gloves off this song is just contagious it has a lot of energy it's that bay area funky, that upbeat track and then when the flute solo came on.
It's like switching gears I just stomp them every time I went up to number four on the rb charts and became another signature song if you ever want to pick a song that claims to work and talk about funky horn sounds the kind array, that's the function. he couldn't do anything wrong unless they did it to themselves we had disagreements we had women too many women started camping with each other they broke up in the early 80's confunction he was at the top of his game with three consecutive gold albums and a live show that pulled out all the stops his show was high energy we had smoke machines we had power techniques things that flash and make your eyes roll white and then when you get a chance to look back the man was there playing everyone just went on board it was a sight to behold always something to look at the outfits were put together cleverly one of my favorites just a plain white with mirrors everywhere and the lights came on that oh , we were like Mirror balls were walking everywhere and the band kept the party going off stage too.
The number one problem with the function was his high testosterone level. There were many women all the time. go backstage so i walk offstage first thing where are the women It was almost like a competition without the band, who will end up with the highlights I use when the tour bus pulls into the hotel parking lot, the drug dealers would already. being there because the bands were paid cash and they knew he had a lot of parties, it was the thing to do, you know, casual indulgence, the show never missed a rehearsal, never missed a gig, never made it home and I do not touch. his children was something you did along the way i mean they are young even i know what i was getting myself into when i married him in 1980 withfunction he went back into the studio to record his fifth album mercury spirit of love but the song that because i loved , their lead single almost missed the cut it has to be enough was introduced by michael and immediately everyone hated it skip says guys put this one aside for a minute they didn't know the song was going to los angeles to be heard arrange on it skip play the song just went from the most hated song to the most loved song by the time you play it you know the song you know it by the guitar line you know by the trumpet line you know by the Rhythm reached suffice to jump to number eight on the rb charts when the spirit of love became confunction's fourth gold recordthe same year they released a new album that also hit the top ten fueled by a smooth beat called too tight too tight with my jam when you get about halfway there they get into these funky crashes and boom boom boom and I was like oh, they can drop some bombs on you just so you know yeah we love the song it was a great mix of pop and rb with funk but while the music was flowing easily dozens of ions were brewing within the group with no designated leader.
Every decision the band made required a vote, from what they played to what they wore. It was all a fucking vote. We should wear orange today. warmer meetings you never wanted to go to a functional meeting without your packed lunch because you are going to be there for a while they started making camps with each other instead of making a fortified unit where they were a family the ties would soon break one for all all for one that changed one of the group members hit me in the early 1980s mix-ups the transformation from musical journeymen to superstars was completed to celebrate their seventh major-label release in 1981 titled the album mix-up seven it included a message from group solidarity on the back of the album written by linda lou mccall rebirth comes by the name seven the revival of love life freedom and the legacy of hope we rejoice it is seven bringing the music of our
hearts seven times but it is as one we give you our love, peace and unity work that's the group I started working with that's the group I r i enunciated my own career to support my husband but as they went to max work on their next album the band was splitting into two camps the two of us the max lp was basically mike and me recording in a studio and the other five guys recording in the other studio at the same time michael and felton were having their own problems they got involved in a real life love triangle a romantic situation that michael cooper set to music in a ballad titled love string the song was written by felton and the lyrics were written for me after he gave me this song i came to find out that a girl i thought he was exclusively dating was also seeing him at the same time michael got caught on the wrong end of a love triangle i was there and then he's calling and she says i can't the pain was so deep i thought i needed to write about this and what better way to write about this experience than to write it on her song no one heard the lyrics until we voted for the song they put the votes on and my version won Out felton you stood up p and i said i want to retire my music the original lyrics to love strain was something completely different i thought my lyrics were better danny thomas said he said you're crazy and the thumb said okay okay though never released as a single love The Train became a fan favorite and Confunction's most enduring ticket.
Michael is pouring out his heart like he did. He just worked that magic on the song and made it what it is. Yeah, this cat wrote this on top of my song, but it's true and it's a hit. But despite the popularity of Love Streams albums, Cells were on the decline, so Confunction handed production duties on his upcoming LP Fever to Amir Diodato, who has emerged from a string of recent hits to be cool in the game and both, the max lp was an eye. For starters, we needed someone in charge, it shouldn't be me and Michael just for the sake of group harmony.
Sure enough, the new album got momentum from a surprising source, a ballad co-written by bassist Cedric Martin titled Baby I'm Hooked Ther It's a very romantic sign of confusion. They can take you to that royal baby. I am hooked. I reached number five on the rb charts for being a complete artist. You have to have both sides and the show was equally strong and for me the ticket. It made them last longer on the surface. The functions seem to be on cruise control. Their next album, Electric Lady, did well on the rb and dance charts, but fights within the band over business issues became more frequent, particularly when it came to songwriting and the money that came with it. we had a publisher called Vallejo Music, then we had our individual publisher.
We start by splitting 50 percent with Valley Joe after years, that can come down to 25 percent. wrote a song that should be divided into seven equal parts and of course I'm not going to be able to sit here and spend all my time effort which certainly seems unfair to me you have to give a portion back so the group can keep up if one person get rich the group is not going to laugh it all came to a boil one day when the band intended to vote for a song written by felton made a deal with the group said ok you guys let the song is on the album they could have the post we had a month off and then we got back together to start recording and then we said oh no wait I didn't say the group already knew that was my position I said gentlemen have that giving them some of my money for nothing has to stop and they said ok let's vote on that i said i don't care what the vote is the answer is no lewis said what are you sitting here tell six grown men we lie and don't say it and boom, that was too much for louis yeah he punched felton he knocked me off the chair and hit me multiple times michael pushed him away and i quit in my mind. it wasn't worth it it was just a hit just a solid hit i remember feeling i grabbed the force and wa you walked out the door and that's how it felt and pilate left you just took out the cat we need to do for this to work we needed that balance we needed that falsetto we needed that different opinion we needed that louis was always professional so he felt bad so he said well pmj i just made a mistake i shouldn't have done that but it was done i knew at that moment when it happened that The group wasn't going to laugh after the singer/songwriter pilot Felton's shock departure in 1986 with Confunction Promised to Move On They set to work on a new album at their Vallejo studio with singer Melvin Carter on board to take the place of felton abruptly inducted me was a chance for me to step up and show what I had, but the foundation of the band was cracking after I finished the work on the album lewis and linda mccall moved across the country to washington dc shortly after that lewis missed two concert dates and the band turned him down it was some dates that h I couldn't get that to put on pretty serious.
It got to the point where we finally decided to let it go. We got another drummer to sit in and fill in and of course this drummer was young and flamboyant. Everything we needed. Lewis flies back to Vallejo Cooper. tells him this lewis just got back on the plane when i picked him up at the airport he was crying linda lou maintains that lewis missed the concerts to deal with the debilitating headaches he had been suffering from for years the lingering effects of his teenage car accident never he had had time to go to the doctor earlier and they were doing an mri and they found remains from when he and danny were in a car accident when they were 16 years old.
Lewis had been suffering from function problems for years. The last album with Louis McCall Burning Love was released in the summer of '86 in search of a fresh sound to suit the times. It was her first LP where all the songs were written by outside writers and her first with a m music video holly graham started saying you guys need a producer who will uniform you and get you in that vein like everyone else but it didn't sound much like confunction we hooked up with the producers and billy osborne saying guys these guys did they were doing the best they could but they were under orders and under pressure to make us sound like something we were nothing about confunction was on that album the fans agreed that the Burning Love album fell to make the r b top 20.
Confunctions had been shown since their debut for Mercury 10 years earlier and when the band's contract with Polygram Mercury came to an end, Michael Cooper felt ready for a change, nothing felt right with Confunction anymore. The Warner Brothers came along and I basically had a solo record deal that stuck for months because I kept trying to insist that they took the feature not just me and you don't go solo last minute said bye folks uh you know I ain't gonna record more with you there were six record companies at the table that was interested in can function found out michael was no longer with the group and it was all over so after 17 years and 11 albums can function was gone we could record we could make songs but without mike singing on the phone, it's not like that.
Confused Michael Cooper signed a deal with Warner Brothers Records and released his first solo LP, Love Is A Such A Funny Game, in 1987. Meanwhile, Filth and Pilot took care of an up-and-coming Bay Area rapper, M.C Hammer. feldman pilot which he worked on let's start please hammer don't hurt him and help quit so felton was a tremendous part of you you know hammer time soul and music i didn't even like rap music , you know my whole thing was trying to change. which brought me to something I felt very comfortable listening to, but after three solo albums Warner Brothers released Michael Cooper from his contract, so in 1993 he decided to reform the feature Felton Pilot joined along with Carl Fuller and Zebulu. n herrell, but danny thomas, cedric martin and louis mccall were not invited back.
I called cooper and asked him how you could come back after leaving the band and not sit down with every band member and say, look guys, who's on board, who's not. I could never go back to voting and arguing and all the things that I had just left five six years ago. I'm going to pick the people that I know put on the best show and the best sound and that's what I did. They should. they have been handled much better michael may have the technical problems they just come to me like a man i said this is what i want to do the feature would continue but for a former member life without the band would be too hard to bear if you could understand the band itself it was actually a person lewis loved it just absolutely killed him that he wasn't part of confunction 2012 three decades after they first reunited on tour and recording with the lineup that includes the original vallejo homeboys michae l cooper felton pilot and carl fuller with a stage show that can still break it it's just magical getting back together hopefully we can make some people laugh make some people cry put some smiles on some faces and some buttocks on the ground like we used to
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