Between the Ohio Players’ ‘Funky Worm’ and Funkadelic’s ‘One Nation Under A Groove’, across three solo albums Junie Morrison created a unique take on the funk.
When Walter “Junie” Morrison died in January 2017 he was on the crest of a wave. The previous year had seen him lauded in song on one of the albums of the year – Solange’s “A Seat At The Table” – and sampled on another, when the track ‘No More Parties In LA’ from Kanye West’s ‘Life Of Pablo’ featured his ‘Suzie Thundertussy’. The publicity should have been the stepping stone to his next phase of success. It wasn’t to be.
Instead we were left with a legacy of 40 years of music, the best of which is known the world over, either in its original form or as samples on some of the biggest hits of the last two decades. This 2CD set covers one of his most creative periods, the two years he recorded for Westbound as a solo artist in the mid-70s. By this point in his career the Dayton-born keyboardist and singer had just left the Ohio Players. He had joined the group at the start of the decade and had written their R&B #1 ‘Funky Worm’, which featured a sinuous keyboard line and the Funky Granny character.
His first album, “When We Do”, was packaged like an Ohio Players album, with the same bald-headed model draped over Junie. Arranged by David Van Pitte and Jimmy Roach, with contributions from the Detroit Symphony, the record featured a mix of funk and soul, and some wonderful songs from Junie, including the single ‘Tight Rope’, ‘Loving Arms’ and the beautiful ‘Married Him’. The follow-up, “Freeze”, saw Junie play all the instruments himself and had a funkier edge, most notably on ‘Granny’s Funky Rolls Royce’ – which saw the return of the granny character from ‘Funky Worm’ – and ‘Super J.’ with its incredible breakdown. By then Junie was touring with a backing band who would later become the Crowd Pleasers, with whom he recorded his final Westbound album, “Suzie Super Groupie”, an underrated classic. The lead single, ‘If You Love Him’, is an outstanding piece of work with an anthemic chorus. The title track is looking forward towards disco, whilst ‘Suzie Thundertussy’ is an amazing slice of funk.
After his time as a solo artist at Westbound, urged on by his friend Bootsy Collins, Junie joined up with Funkadelic. With George Clinton he wrote two of the most identifiable P-Funk hits, ‘One Nation Under A Groove’ and ‘(Not Just) Knee Deep’, before re-launching his solo career. Our compilation contains all his solo Westbound recordings, including two non-album tracks and five single edits or mixes.