Artist: Black Merda
Album: Force of Nature
Genre: Psychedelic Funk
Quality: FLAC (tracks+.cue)
Can’t Get Enough of the Funk
Stop the War
18 for 20 year
Miss Hawkins’ House
Take a Little Time
I’m Not Coming Back
Get On The Same Road
Its amazing that after all these years of music beingrecycled, rediscovered and re-released that there are still great bands out there that never get full credit for their place in musical history. Luckily Black Merda have come back to remind us all about their contribution to rock and funk since they first gained attention in the late 60s as ‘the first all black rock band’.
With a small discography for a band that has been around for so long it is a refreshing to see them release the new album Force Of Nature. As players, the brothers Hawkins and VC L Veasey are exceptional practitioners of the type of blues funk that Hendrix took and transformed into his own psychedelic blueprint.
Operating for years as The Soul Agents and working as session musicians they contributed to albums by Edwin Starr, The Chi’lites and The Spinners. Re-christened as Black Merda they took elements of soul, funk and blues and filtered them through rock music.
Force Of Nature finds Black Merda firmly rooted in that same style and shows that they can still write and play as an impressively tight unit. They have shed much of the psych-rock part of their sound to focus on the bluesy funk rock template. ‘Miss. Hawkin’s House’ is a clean blues song with soulful vocals while ‘My Inspiration’ is a Curtis Mayfield style funk track, all ‘Superfly’ with its 70s vibe. The ‘cleaning up’ of their sound is the only disappointment on the album and it would have been great to hear them cut loose a little more, as they did back in the day.
The band isn’t afraid to speak their minds on contemporary issues such as war and drugs. ’18 For 20 Year’ is a cautionary tale of long term drug addiction told in a sing-song rap with a fat bass groove while on ‘Stop The War’ they rail against the war in Iraq and the lack of focus on domestic US issues. “Stop the fighting and killing / so many people aren’t willing / to die for democracy” sings F.C Hawkins.
There is no doubt these life long friends are still exceptional players. Veasey’s bass playing is tight and punchy and it propels the songs along while giving them a tough foundation. The guitar playing of the Hawkins brothers is economical and provides enough intelligence and subtlety to avoid slipping into blues soloing or showmanship. Vocally they all take turns and mix things up between sweet soul harmonies on ‘Beautiful Thing’ and the attitude of ‘Can’t Get Enough Of The Funk’.
Fans of Ben Harper will find much on Force Of Nature to interest them, as would blues and funk purists. Black Merda show how cross pollination of musical genres can appear effortless when done with the level of skill that these gentlemen still possess and so, for many people, this is a valuable history lesson that places them in a similar league to The Funk Brothers, Muscle Shoals and Booker T & The M.G.’s.