Amnesty – Free Your Mind – reviewed in Toronoto’s Now

Now-Again | Aug. 4, 2008 | Press |

Compilations of 70s funk are so common now, it’s no longer sufficient to simply dig up a couple of 7-inch tracks that Tobias Kirmayer hasn’t yet posted to You’ve got to deliver stuff like “the only known acetate, on loan from Cut Chemist, who won it from Dante Carfagna in a Texas hold ’em showdown.”

Or better yet, how about an entire unreleased album like Amnesty’s Free Your Mind: The 700 West Sessions, which Stones Throw ace Egon just dug up for his Now Again imprint. It’s a stone-cold prog-soul thriller that comes packed with a powerful political punch recalling the early work Funkadelic. The funkiest lesson in black history you’ll hear this month.

From Toronto’s NOW Magazine:

Perlich’s Picks

A weekly dig through the crates for the stuff you really need to hear

By Tim Perlich

Amnesty – Love Fades

Now-Again | Jul. 16, 2008 | Press |

War! What is it good for? Well, the last time we checked, still good for restless, bracing grooves and breaks, daring to resist the temptations of merely marketable stasis-as-boogie, and of “progressive” display of servicable book learnin’, a.k.a. yet another slow fade into the Quality Street parade. Good for tramping, vamping and ramping through many shades. Good for all the wiser children of James Brown (including thee late-’60s prodigies, like Sly & The Family Stone, and contemporaneous cross-cultural cousins, like the Electric Flag and the tighter side of Al Kooper-era Blood, Sweat & Tears). Good, certainly, for the better jams of War, with and mostly without Eric Burdon; for the better, earlier incarnations of Earth, Wind & Fire, the Commodores, Tower Of Power, and of Kool & The Gang; good also for Brass Construction, Mandrill, youngsters like Slave and the ever-flexing FunkaParliadictment/ParliaFunkadelictment Thang. (Not to mention the massively see-and-raise-ya African response, as very eventually documented on The Best Best Of Fela Kuti and Luaka Bop’s comp, Love’s A Real Thing.) The early-to-mid-’70s muthalode of funk is still being excavated, and now Now-Again Records’ Egon follows his revelatory raising of the Kashmere Stage Band’s Texas Thunder Soul with Amnesty’s Free Your Mind: The West 700 Sessions. Only a couple of the Indianapolis-based Amnesty’s tracks were released during the band’s lifespan. But whatever the reason, it wasn’t a lack of engagingly professional proficiency. Although Free Your Mind isn’t quite up to the divertingly subtle details and quirky POV of, say, the also-recently exhumed Black Merda’s The Folks From Mother’s Mixer, there’s a thoughtful intensity to Amnesty’s suave sweep, chop and flow of horns, wah-wah, bass, conga, trap set and other percussion. The lead singing isn’t quite as strong as the playing, and some of the lyrics aren’t up to the tunes, but iridescent gospel-and-jazz-associated harmonies rally the troops, especially on the last few tracks, where vocals are accompanied by what sounds like hollow-bodied (but full-figured) electric guitar, rather than being set in the preceding songs’ nest of funkfest. The transition of arrangement style isn’t jolting, nor are the changes between political songs and love ballads, because everything sounds like personal and collective expression, simultaneously. Indeed, those last tracks, especially “We’ve Come A Long Way” and “Liberty” are both political and love ballads, love of we the people in me and thee. And, if anything, “Mr. President” is sharper than their usual up-tempo slice; they never rely on mere attitude, unlike many musical editorialists, then and now.

Such commitment pays off: all these sessions do work as an album, as a whole, but that’s also the payback: no one track jumps out, beyond the expected bounds of Amnesty’s basically familiar approach, and whatever taste you may have for that. But on its own, “Love Fades” nicks a niche, shines a while, like a bright little eye that catches yours, passing through. Broadened syllables slyly ride the wah-wah, working it like a lever on the roller coaster of party ripples. Seems like scat-singing at first, til the teaming phonemes form a few phrases, like “you got a thang, I got a thang,” and “get it up, tear it up,” but/and oh yeah, “Love fades.” Funny how that fits in. Sprinkles and hot rivets of punctuation take the punchline for a ride, and vice versa. “Lahv fayydes,” but not too quickly, not yet. “Gitit Gitit Gitit” some more.


Connie Price and the Keystones Press

Now-Again | Aug. 4, 2007 | Press |
Mental Combat: Issue 742

Get ready for the supergroup of contemporary deep funk with the new release on Now-Again (Creative Vibes/Basement Digs) by the name of Connie Price & the Keystones with their superb album, Wildflowers. Containing members from more than six well established groups such as Breakestra, Antibalas, Dap Kings, etc… it truly is a supergroup in every sense of the word. As an added bonus is that the current tradesman of drumming, the extraordinarily gifted and prolific Malcom Catto is on the sticks as well. It’s down and dirty with a massive lineup of musicians involved who really do surpass themselves in a shapes and forms. Melodies, rhythms, atmosphere, vibe, are all sophisticated yet parallel a world of 30 years ago in the most truest of fashions. It’s the lack of pretence and the love of funk that propels if far above those who fail to see the alkaline & focus on the acid. Alkaline funk as opposed to acid jazz. The title track & the only one with vocals, is a prime example of bringing the old with the new. It features the vocals of two members of the early ’70s obscure funk outfit LA Carnival and it pretty much sounds like a never before released track from that era. If those guys can hook up with new fellas for such a project then the least one could do is put this on the shopping list. Highly memorable and rewarding. LINK

Your Source for Toronto Urban Life

We here at like to think that we are for the most part “up” on new music and that not too much gets by our ears. But then we’re thoroughly gorilla-slapped back to reality when we find out about music like this, months after it’s initial release. Wildflowers is an album that will almost instantly bring you back to an earlier time (namely the early 70’s) when music was lush and could single-handedly bring you to another level. Combining elements of funk, jazz, soul and rock, Wildflowers is able to effortlessly capture the essence of what made that era so great. A live instrumental album by some extremely talented musicians, fifteen in total, it makes for an excellent listen when you just want to sit back, zone-out, and not do a damn thing. Very cool.
Rewind Worthy: “Get Thy Bearings,” “Sucker Punch,” “The Shadows Of Leaves” and “Wildflowers.”

Connie Price

L.A. Weekly – July 8, 2005
Connie Price & the Keystones, Egon at Temple Bar.

Stones Throw Records’ estimable arbiter of good taste Egon throws two parties to celebrate the release of Cold Heat — Heavy Funk Rarities, the funktastic follow-up to the label’s justly acclaimed The Funky 16 Corners compilation, a veritable mine of unheeded funk gold by ’60s and ’70s combos from all over the U.S.A. The new disc uncovers further great stuff from some of the bands featured on The Funky 16 Corners and brings on several previously unheard others, in a memorabilia-packed set complete with a 28-page booklet and tons of priceless period pics. Tonight, L.A.’s crucial Connie Price & the Keystones perform songs from the comps as well as their own originals, and Egon will deejay. At Star Shoes on Saturday, renowned Northern Soul DJ/compiler Keb Darge flies in for his first-ever set in California. (John Payne)

Impose Magazine
Vol. IV, issue #17 (March/April)

Connie Price and the Keystones

There’s been a second coming among underground funk lovers, with new labels popping up faster than you can say James Brown. And while a good portion of the revenue upstarts like Now-Again bring in is due to re-releasing hard to find classics, it’s also inspired a new generation of musicians to embrace the funk. Drummer Connie Price and Breakestra guitarist Dan Ubick have assembled a cast of characters that can create aural landscapes using live instruments nearly as well as Ubick has with the help of technology in the past. Lot’s of wah-pedal guitar and thumping bass are what drives Wildflowers, but this isn’t straight funk JB’s style; it’s heavily infused in Jazz, Afrobeat, soul, and, according to Ubick, late 60s/early 70s movie soundtracks. The trumpet work of Daptone recording artist Todd M. Simon is nothing short of amazing, displaying a range from the swing to psychedelic era’s of jazz. The Wurlitzer, Moog and Rhodes laid down throughout sets the perfect ambiance for every mood shift, but never feels forced or worse yet, incompetently played like often is the case when working with such distinctly toned instruments. The soundtrack quality will be evident once you put on the record and realize every beat is following you closely no matter what the scenario. It slowly becomes background music for your ride; it doesn’t matter where you’re going, because no matter where, you won’t stop bobbin’ your head. –DE