Funk in Your Hand
It's easy to forget that funk pioneers founded their legends on the music's sheer audacity -- that George Clinton's cosmic-slop space-opera was once new and outrageous. That, long before frat boys started doing the chicken neck and patchouli people started dancing like limp noodles to it, Al Green's voice was making undergarments vaporize on contact.
Local funk/jam band CK9 and the Old E Allstars probably know all this, but on Funk in Your Hand, you get the sense that they're pulling their punches. Over the eight tracks, the group leavens conventional "jazzy" changes with an organic flavor (especially from Chris Kratt's acoustic rhythm guitar), while the drums and percussion move things along at an earthy pace. Atop all this, Kyle Lawson backs up his convincing blue-eyed soul vocal with wah-saturated Kravitz lead guitar.
The standout track is the slow groove "Get Yo Thangs," which fits nicely in the tradition of songs about a man being done so wrong, the girl's just gotta go. Melancholy and atmospheric, this gut-punch connects; Lawson's voice takes on an Anthony Kiedis timbre, too, which works wonders.
Many of the other tracks fall a bit flat, like the derivative "Funkadelica" (guess where they got the name). And the closer -- "Bitch (Better Have My Money)" -- just isn't believable. The group has a tendency to rush the rhythms, which can be pure groove-repellant. To paraphrase Diamond Dave, CK9 and Co. could stand to reach down between their legs ... and ease the seat back. I'm sure this band is great at a party, and funk in the hand is worth something, but here's hoping CK9 remember what it's all about ... and go after some of that funk in the bush, too.
CK9 and the Old E Allstars CD release, with Jazzam and Race the Ghost. 8 p.m. Fri., Oct. 27. Rex Theatre, 1602 E. Carson St., South Side. $10 ($12 at the door). 412-381-6811 or www.rextheatre.com