Week 33: Blasphemously Funky

By: Lafayette

Aug 14 2009

Tags: ,

Category: 1974

56 Comments

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Welcome back, friends!

Week 33 is here…and it’s been a crazy week coming back to work after a 5 week vacation – just getting up in the morning has been real awful, after getting used to breakfast around noon. But it still feels alright trading the flipflops for some comfy sneakers and get back in the saddle again. And I sure hope all your vacations been as good as mine – plenty of good music, relaxation and time for the family!

This week is all about some smokin’ Jesus music contributed by our old friend and benefactor Paros – who ran an awesome blog of his own, “From The Shed”, a couple of years ago. If you remember Paros contributions on the old 4BB, you all know that he has both deep crates and excellent taste when it comes to obscure joints from back in the day – and his latest contribution is a perfect example of just that!

First Gear’s album “Caution! Steep Hill Use First Gear” was released in 1974 on the Christian music label Myrrh Records, situated in Waco, Texas. They debuted on the same label in 1972 with a highly sought-after self titled album (we’ll get back to this one later on). First Gear, a soulfully jazzy, horndriven funkrock outfit, described by the One-Way Christian Music website as being “not so much Jesus music, but more positive pop”, features a certain Larnelle Harris on lead vocals – nowadays a household name in the more inspirational vein of gospel music (check his bio right here). One-Way reflects on his time with First Gear with a kinda cold “Can’t imagine what he thinks about this now!” – my personal reflection was more like “Holy smokes! This is funky…I wonder why he changed from this winning concept!”

With that in mind, let’s check out One-Way’s review of the album anyway:

………………………………………………………………

“Opening with an Earth Wind & Fire-ish mover, Larnelle and crew’s follow-up album has more of a bite to it. Funkier, more electric guitar, loads of horns. As with the first lp, it’s mostly derivative – proficient but not much to distinguish it. Lyrics of titles like ‘Get In Gear’, ‘Share The Feelin’, ‘Together’ and ‘Do You Like The Sound Of The Music’ don’t give much to dig in to, but I guess the intent here is more positive-message entertainment. A pair of Seals & Crofts tunes are done and ‘Give Me A Break’ dishes out a serious portion of mega-heavy funk. Mildly intriguing.”

………………………………………………………………

I wonder what they would say about a early 70’s Moments LP like “Those Sexy Moments”! :¬D

Information on First Gear is hard to come by, but I found an old Dusty Groove review (no longer on their site) used in a eBay item description:

………………………………………………………………

“Great bit of funky work from First Gear – a soul group led by Larnelle Harris, a heck of a soulful singer, with a sound that should have made him much bigger than he was. Of course, part of his limitations came from the fact that First Gear were a religious-oriented group – not really gospel, or Christian, but righteous and positive in their message – and they recorded only two albums for the Myrrh subsidiary of Christian recording powerhouse Word, Inc. Forget the church roots of the music, though, because even a close listen won’t really pull out that much Jesus-speak here – as the group are pretty focused on laying down funky soul, in an ensemble mode that has Harris on lead vocals, and the rest of the group jumping in on the chorus tracks. Backing is in sort of an Average White Band sort of style – and tracks include ’I’m Goin Home’, ’Get In Gear’, ’Together’, ’Hey Goody Goody’, ’Ridin Thumb’, and ’Share The Feelin’.”

………………………………………………………………

My favourite cut is the funky yet laidback B-side opener “Together” (preview clip), showing some healthy resemblance to acts like Kool & The Gang, Tower Of Power and Average White Band – otherwise I’d recommend pretty much the entire A-side…which basically is bubbling over with the positive funk!

To lay your hands on the original vinyl, you’d better hurry on over here – sure, it’s kinda pricey (from $65 to about $170) but could probably be regarded as an investment since the price has trebled over the last couple of years! This is also a good place to start the hunt for First Gear’s fantastic debut album from 1972 – which I believe could be even more special and unique regarding both song writing and vocal arrangements…just listen to this:

Consider this album being in the top slot of 4BBW’s “Most Wanted” list! If you got it, hit us up – you got a week or so to holler back…after that I’m buying it for sure! Perfect for a future follow-up post!

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UPDATE! Thanks to Paros (yeah, him again), the First Gear debut album is no longer on our “Most Wanted” list – instead, it’s on heavy rotation right here at home right now! Link is found in the comments…and yeah, I’m still buying it! It’s even better than I thought it would be! Mad props to Paros!

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Big thanks to our pal Paros for enlightning us with some almost heavenly funk music, but first and foremost, major props are due to Larnelle & First Gear thank you for the music!

(Ps. Thank you for the comments and positive feedback on the latest posts…especially Marty for his lengthy reviews, and to avid follower Whoknows for breaking the 1000 comment barrier! Keep it up!)

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56 comments on “Week 33: Blasphemously Funky”

  1. Get ready for some smokin’ Jesus music! Please leave a comment on the post – and while at it, leave some love for the contributor!

    LISTEN:
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    Read more about this on our “About” page.

    DISCLAIMER:
    17 U.S.C. 107 permits copyrighted material to be used under the “fair use” doctrine without any permission from the copyright owner. As such, as far as these files are concerned, they are clips and/or low quality reproductions of material; As such they should not be used as substitutes for retail copies of the material contained within. No currency or materials in-Lieu of same has changed hands during the download and/or distribution of these files. No monetary reward is expected and/or accepted for the content of these files. No pretense has been, nor will ever be, made that these files and their contents have ever been, or ever will be, of retailable quality.

    Still, any artist or legal copyright owner who whould rather not see their music or other creations on this blog, please leave a comment with a valid e-mail address and we will sort things out A.S.A.P. If you do download any music or any other copyrighted material, please delete download within 24 hrs and hit the record shop. Always support the real artists whenever possible!

  2. aouch!!!!this one seems to be really funky according to the audioclip,i can’t wait to get it!thanks for the discover!!

  3. Thanks Laf and Paros!

  4. great 🙂 thanx ….

  5. My area here Laf…..move over, let the KID have it for a while! 🙂
    I’m very familar with this label. Back in the day they had a stable of artists that once included The Rance Allen Group (for one album). This was after the Mizzell project that you featured on the old site.
    Myrrh was a brother/sister label to Sparrow and Word, where black artists like Andre Crouch, Leon Patillo (Santana keyboardist), Jessy Dixson, Danniebelle Hall and others recorded. They were the Gordy, Tamla and Motown of the gospel music world.
    Larnelle Harris has chops…nuff said…. and is very versatile. He is DEADLY on a ballard but can funk with the best of them. He came to international fame with his cover of Dallas Holmes “I’ll Rise Again”. He later turned heads with his “More Than Wonderful” duet with Sandy Patti. He did a stint with The New Gaither Vocal Band. (I know most of you don’t know what I’m talking about, but Bill Gaither is HUGE in this field) and so is Larnell Harris. Yeah, dude’s been around.
    I haven’t heard this one so I’m anticipating a return to yesteryear when I was behind the mic spinning some of these. Thanks for the (O_O) surprise Paros and Laf.

    @ Paros or anybody that has Rance Allen’s “Hear My Voice” (his only product with Myrrh), please hit me up….I’d appreciate it…. Can’t find it anywhere. LOL

    • Slick, this is your lucky day! Brother Paros has you’re back on this one:

      Rance Allen Group “Hear My Voice” (Myrrh, 1983)

      Thanks for the speedy expedition of this request, Paros!

    • Several of the artists mentioned in my first post are in error. For some reason, I put several Light Records artists under the Word/Myrrh umbrella. I went back to see who recorded on the labels and was reminded that these two were competitors…sorta.. Motown vs Philly Int’l.
      Light/Sparrow carried more African American artists and to me. had the more funkier releashes, but Word held ther own. Once again, I want to thank Paros for giving us these too funky gems (especially those not connected with First Gear) and he knows what else. And thank you Laf…… for not having an ego….after all, nobody is obligated to share. 🙂

  6. Laf & Paros…the funky couple!
    Thanks for one more gem, Fam!
    best

  7. looking interesting….thanks for sharing

  8. Many Thanks for this fantastic funk post

    Guido/LF

  9. Damn…this post became a 5 album special – who would’ve guessed that?! Thanks for sharing, Paros!

    /Lafayette

    • Hey! Don’t slip on the inspirational stuff. :-)You’d be surprised who digs it.
      I said it on the old sight a while back. There is some older stuff that is as funky as anything I’ve ever heard. Now to download the original post.

  10. Thank you Paros for all of the lovely contributions.

    Wow, Laf, we might as well let this sit for TWO weeks! 🙂

  11. This goes out to the people who are not even leaving comments……….they are missing out on some funky ass good vibe music……….thank you Laf and thank you Paros…………….was a big huge fan of your tunes from the shed blog a year or two back man………….you impress me man!! Thanks for ALL the great music you have been kind enough to bestow upon me and others my man!! God Bless!!

  12. How can I thank you…let me count the ways 🙂 .
    Not original, but nevertheless, I appreciate falling into this batch of gems. Thanks family, all of you are the best, and very much appreciated.

  13. Many, many thanks for these two absolute gems!

  14. I have to correct an error in my post thanks to info supplied by Paros. Evidently, Rance Allen had other Myrrh albums. I’m so glad to hear these again.
    @ Paros…what don’t you have? 🙂

  15. thanks again for the other First Gear album Paros, nice one 🙂

  16. One of the best posts as of late. These are super nice. Good lookin out 4BB and Paros.

  17. Wow!! What an amazing post! Like TSwift said to the people who aren’t leaving comments “they are missing out on some funky ass good vibe music”. I couldn’t agree more. @ Paros, You have been missed brother!! I couldn’t get enough of Tunesfromtheshed. I actually shed a few tears when you closed the doors. I hope you come around more often. Or better yet, open up the shed again one day!! Much Thanks Paros, Laf and 4BBs. Peace

  18. thanks alot Paros & Laf for this gem, your guys generosity amazes me. each week hittin’ us up with another outstanding record. thanks so much for putting a young guy like myself up on so much great music i probably would’ve missed out on other wise. keep up the great work bros!

  19. Thanks!

  20. this one seems very interesting… thanks brothers 1nce again

  21. Thanks so much. Can’t wait to check it out.

  22. Thank you, Paros! I’ve been anxiously awaiting this one ever since Laf told me about it a couple weeks ago… 🙂

    Just got back from a mini vacation, and with homework staring me in the face, this one is sure to be a real pick me up

    Seriously, Laffy, how do I follow up after all these extreme hits over the past four weeks?!? We’ll just have to wait and see now, won’t we… hehehe 😛

    Peace and blessings.

  23. Hello Cousins, how are things? Sounds like a couple of interesting ones! Never heard about this band before I must confess:). Thanks very much for these. Looking FWD to check them out.

    Peace.

    GeeeFlat.

  24. @ GeeeScat
    Cousins my a$$. You a Bruh and not even a stepbruh. Let’s hear some feedback.
    Cause you will bring it.

  25. Very good album! Love this “Ridin´ Thumb” joint!

    Thank you brothers 🙂

  26. A repenting sinner returns to find… Salvation in the form of Funkin’ rare gospel music, my favourite kind. You guy’s… I’ve sure learn’t my lesson now It’s always a pleasure to leave a comment and divine to get Rance Allen as a bonus. I lift my hands in reverence to the Brothas & Paros
    Peace & Blessings
    /Funkback

  27. word up! thanks team.

  28. Now this is what I call divine intervention! Yep I’m back just in time to receive some funky blessings in the form of sound.

    What a post! Paros you lit it up in here. Thanks is simply not enough for all your contributions to this post. I still miss The Shed.

    Slick! The info man. And I thought I was mother time. (tee hee) You go back a bit dude.

    @tswift98 – Don’t waste your time shoutin at the lechers. Let em miss out. They deserve it.

    This was a fantastic post. I’m so glad I was around to catch this one. I know I can still go back and go through the archive for the previous weeks that I missed but it’s just not the same as when it’s current. Not to mention catch up is a real mother for ya!

    All jokes aside, thanks Laf and Paros for this very special posting.

  29. Great to see ya, Bow-Bow!! ;D

  30. What a great share and what a great piece of Music. Thank you so much boys

  31. Lafayette I love this album.. I have never heard of First Gear, but this album ‘steep hill’ is way too cool .. I love harder funky jam music and this album is great althroughout…A mix of funky, rock, soul and sometime jazzy.. I have been playing this album over and over all week!!! Get in gear kicks off the album with a really cool running bassline, funky horns, just an awesome progression for a great song.. Share the feeling rocks “feeling good good good!!” a little slower and jazzy but man that hook is infectious… Ridin thumb kinda sounds like a mix between Stevie Wonder and something Chicago could have put out (with the harmonies), and the horns following the bass and chugging rhythm a pretty concise quick guitar solo at 1:52, these guys were VERY talented.. I love Goody Goody, the hooks on this album are hit material… I think the Sound of music is my favorite song on the album, I just go nuts over that organ buried in the mix, and the horn section is spot on. Great positive messages in the lyrics all through the album, and those are my favorites.. Together is cool has great basslines. I do like give me a break kinda bluesy those electric guitar solos rule, Sudan Village has a Northern African feel to it, and then Future of rock and roll & goin’ home seem more like rock songs than anything else, Going home closes the album with a pretty fast jam and the bass player getting into it…. man these guys put out an incredible album filled with multiple influences and they were all very talented musicians. I can’t wait to hear more … you guys do find the gems!

  32. Thanks a million Paros & Laf!!!1 Playing catch up on these posts. This sho is fonky!!!!!!!!!!!

  33. First Gear – I can’t seem to get out of that these days – and missing some incredible duty like this right here. ‘The Shed’ was a goldstream of purest soul, and I’m glad that Paros has lost none of that excellent work sieving the prime for our enjoyment. Absolute respect to you Paros for your kindness in bringing this to our ears and to 4BB for being there.

  34. back from holliday, just discovered this post…..whaooooooo, it’s been so long i was lookin’ 4 this lp!!!!
    So before i will have my OG Copy, i will listen it in heavy rotation!

    Great great thanks to share your passions with us

  35. eXXXcellent share!!! thanks a lot Paros & Laf…very much appreciated de moi!
    peace, E-mile

  36. Awesome! Can’t thank you enough! Never heard of these guys before but they sound damn good!

  37. another CLassic Fellas dats all i can say another CLassic

  38. Hey fellas,
    haven’t been around for a while, but i’ll enjoy catching up, starting with this – looks excellent! THANKS as always!

  39. thanks for this one! kind of been on hiatus but glad to be back with yall. gonna be playin a little ‘ketchup’ thanks again! get dowwwn!

  40. What a lot of gifts ,from the original post (wonderful) to some nice replies:thanx to you all guys.

  41. Thanks for this one my Dudes

  42. My brother saw this group perform at the “Tiger’s Den” in Spring Valley, NY. I even had a poster of these guys, but all I have is a single, not the LP and I bought the 45 many years later.

  43. “Smoking Jesus” sounds like a night I had recently. hehe. can’t wait to hear this one.

  44. Thanks for the First Gear lp , I`ve been looking for it for ages, Its an absolute classic, There`s not a bad song on it. MUST HAVE!!!

  45. Looks like i’m too late for the link. No longer available. Been trawling the web for more links/info/downloads for First Gear. First heard their track ‘I feel the earth move’ many years ago and loved it then. If you guys can point me in the right direction that’d be great.
    Keep up the great work!!

    • @Tykeyred: Check back in a couple of days…I’ll try and find our old vinyl rip and upload it for you. Good music needs to be heard, you know!

      Update:
      Aight – check this!

      /Laf

  46. Many many thanks lafayette. Great album. Just need to try and find the other self titled album by first gear now!


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