SHUFFLER 0075: DRIPPING WITH HUMIDITY
Saturday, February 14, 2015
4th Coming – “Cruisin Down Sunset” from California Funk: Rare Funk 45s from the Golden State (Jazzman/Now Again)
Today’s Shuffler is a lesson in preservation and its various challenges. “Crusin’ Down Sunset” is a song that appears on a compilation I downloaded from eMusic. Because I downloaded it thataway, I don’t have what is reportedly a beautiful 24-page full-color booklet packed with the sort of archival information that might be useful to the sort of hack music blogger that I aspire to be. A pleading tweet to eMusic revealed that they are unable to provide PDFs. I have another pleading tweet in to Now Again, so we’ll see what happens.
In the meantime, I’m left to piece things together on my own. The 4th Coming, near as I can tell, was a funk band from the Los Angeles area that released a handful of 45s on the Pzazz and Alpha record labels during the late sixties and early seventies. Further digging reveals that the track was recorded in 1974 somewhere in LA and released as Alpha Records 648 (though a Google search of “‘Alpha Records’ 648 ‘Cruisin Down Sunset'” yields no results.
“Cruisin Down Sunset” is definitely an ensemble piece, and it is definitely heavy, heavy funk, hardly a foreign currency where Now-Again Records is concerned (see 2005’s Cold Heat: Heavy Funk Rarities 1968-1974, Vol. 1). Where other funk songs are down and dirty booty-shaking anthems, “Cruisin Down Sunset” is, as one might imagine, more of a slow jam. The Sunset Strip might be known for its temperate climes, but I swear, this track is dripping with humidity. It would be a perfect candidate for the juke box at a sort of Apocalypse Now! riverfront saloon for AWOL soldiers (was there even any funk music in that movie? It’s been a while. But you get the idea). The guitars are fuzzed out, the synthesizers sound like a theremin, there’s plenty of wah pedal and hand drums, and whistles, and generally an ominous, if funky, drone to the whole track. On the other hand, it makes sense that this track is from an LA group, presaging, as it does, the G-funk hip-hop that dominated the West Coast in later decades. If I had to guess what means Porter and company used to cruise down Sunset, my money would be on a 1964 Impala.
Someday, with any luck at all, I’ll be able to tell you much more about 4th Coming and their place in the 1960s and 70s Los Angeles funk scene. For now, though, I’m quite comfortable letting the music speak for itself. Enjoy.
UPDATE: 02/16/15: I decided I wanted to do more digging. Here’s what I found. Keyboardist Yusuf Rahman was actually a pretty prolific funk player in his time, as evidenced by this extensive Discogs discography. He even produced and arranged a Wilson Pickett record in 1975, the year after this 4th Coming track was recorded. Drummer Chuck Wood/Wood Chuck was somewhat less prolific, but one track was featured on a 45 from UK soul-reissue label Outta Sight. If pianist R.D. Pruitt has done anything else, the internet doesn’t seem to know about it. Vocalist Hank Porter, largely absent from this track, worked on other 4th Coming records (occasionally as Hank Porter & 4th Coming), but that’s all I could find out. I guess that’s the way these things go, and why the track is so rare, but any information you might be able to provide would be most welcome.