The word 'funk' is tossed around a lot. It has sources (Sly & the Family Stone, Parliament, Mother's Finest, etc.) but it also connotes wider parameters than are normally credited…and a lot of writers have no clue what they're talking about when it comes to the genre. Can I get an amen? Well, trust me when I say this is funk, 'cause what Charlie Wood can do to jazz, blues, rock, soul, and gospel, brother, is funky as hell.
The composer-keyboardist-singer writes his own stuff but also takes the oeuvre of the greats (Cohen, Simon, etc.) and drags them into the back room where the juju and gris-gris can be found, hipping them up, and down, to the wider vernacular. A number of crits are comparing this cat to Elvis Costello (and the CD's named after a Costello tune), and it's not all that terrible an allusion, but where Elvis is, or rather was, a jagged mega-nerd—he's changed a bit since his hornrimmed days—Wood's much warmer, infinitely more soulful, and smooth as aged whiskey. Yeah, there's Costello in there, but there's a lot more in the way of Sidran and Allison sieved through Wood's own voice, which is huskier and more upfront.
Probably the most impressive factor is the way he makes others' work his own. Robbed of liner credits, and playing upon the fact that ya mightn't be a Dr. Demento of the folk / blues / swamp-jazz genres, I'd not tally bad marks against any listener convicted that each and every track was of Wood manufacture. There's a disc-wide linearity that can't be missed. And when Billy Gibson cuts in that searing harmonica sounding damnably like an overdriven guitar, well, then Wood's own songs (here, Be my Ball) are invested ever more heavily with their own distinctiveness. From start to finish, Flutter and Wow is the kind of down-South music that Chuck Leavell and Sea Level would have been eatin' up with fork and spoon, then inviting the guy and his band on tour…and maybe, just maybe, sweatin' bullets over it after the fact, 'cause this is highly infectious, the sort of sound that attracts fans of one group over to another reeeeeeal easily.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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