The Booker T. Washingtonian vision to complement Reaganesque politics: hygiene, positive thinking, and the elision of the social become keys to Black success. Status (being “new”) ablates the spatial (“hell”/ghettoes) and is mirrored by clean, tight, concise funk: shimmering synths and ultra-high crescendos. The “positive tip” loves subjugation.
Funk’s not about freedom of speech since that enterprise is grounded on the possibility of future dividends (or “possible funkability” funded by “high finance”). Rather, funk is always fully realized and can “be scored everyday”; and it’s surely not “domestically produced” or given, but a given, free of charge. More succinctly, funk is a predisposition without a constitution and an affirmation of a possible being decoupled from sovereignty. This would be the freedom which can never be granted or purchased, and the dissolution of any (self)governance is premised on everyone “hav[ing] change for funk” or, more directly, untethering pleasure from self-care.
Overall strategy to document (and eventually attack) the hitch/delay: the “one” is muted (surrounded by two bass notes), main bass line hobbles before the “four,” and community is waiting for the “comer[s].” “Don’t wave your hand” if you’ve “been plugged in” to the white hierarchy; revolution through active unplugging—“Don’t let ’em do it”—to avoid distractions. Free-form guitar solo and main, picked riff (no hammer-ons) lay down the formula: attack the smooth, middle-class aspirations with stiff uppercuts. The fifteen-rounder doesn’t have to last a lifetime, but you better commit to going the distance.
In some ways, The Reddings continue The Brothers Johnson’s investment in funk as inborn, released/expended, and premised on dance floor experiences. Not so with this trax, as we move toward an advent of sorts. Who/what arrives? From the album cover, it’s the revelation of lonesomeness conveyed by the single used pillow and the broken office clock lying on the bed (as probable frustration with a world devoid of funk). Moving between slapping and fingerstyle tendencies, the bass pyrotechnics are relentless. The difference appears in the accompanying overdubs that appear near the end; consisting of both harmonics and slaps/pops played backwards and layered within the forward momentum of the primary narrative, they emphasize causality in a distorted mirror. Reflected back to us, the other is different yet comparable, related but not an amplification. The layers, the bottom end, the sustained open E string throbbing throughout: arrival has happened and will have to happen, recursive in its movement forward, outward, and downward.