It’s almost the weekend and, aside from one other person, I’m pretty much here alone at the office today (Corporate Hell). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing mind you when I can just plug my headset into my laptop, do a random search on YouTube so find something interesting to listen to and, Bob’s yer uncle, I’m happily groovin’ away in my own little world. I call this the “Search n’ Groove” method of locating new music. So today’s ‘Groove n’ Search’ process lead me to this, the ‘The Psych Funk of Black Merda‘ album (click HERE) by Black Merda.
Wait, psychedelic funk?
Sign me up!
It turns out that Black Merda (pronounced “Black Murder”) is an American rock band from Detroit, Michigan, active from the mid 1960’s to the early 1970’s (briefly reuniting in 2005) and are largely regarded as the the first all black rock band. The core band members are Anthony Hawkins (guitarist/vocalist ), VC L. Veasey (bassist/guitarist/vocalist ), Charles Hawkins (guitarist/vocalist ), and Tyrone Hite (drummer/vocalist).
Hawkins and Veasey originally met in elementary school and then became acquainted with Hite while attending high school in Detroit in the early 1960’s. The three began working as serious session and backup musicians in the Detroit scene in the following years and performed together as the Impacts, then as the Soul Agents backing up the likes of Edwin Starr, Gene Chandler, Wilson Pickett, The Spinners, The Chi-Lites, Jackie Wilson, The Temptations, and other soul/R&B acts affiliated with Motown and Brunswick Records.
Not a bad way to get started, right?
Later, as a quartet with Charles Hawkins, the band continued working with Edwin Starr as the Soul Agents, with Starr approving of the change in sound to guitar-based psychedelic rock and funk. But in 1968 they decided to craft a new identity as a self-contained rock band. After considering the name Murder Incorporated after a notorious criminal organization, the band settled on Black Murder as a comment on the rampant inner-city violence experienced by many African Americans during that period. Considering that many young black people were at that time being killed by the police and the Ku Klux Klan in Detroit and in the south, Veasey wanted to choose a name that would be a shocking reminder to the public of how bad the situation was. The spelling was later changed to Black Merda as an African American slang spelling (suggested by Anthony) of the word “murder” while retaining the original theme.
As an FYI: “Merda” in Brazil also means “poo”, or “feces”.
Anyhooski, this album is basically 11 stabs to the brain pan of rare psych/funk from this sinister guitar powerhouse group. It features previously unavailable cuts that were either locked away in the vaults of Chess Records, or tracks that the band laid down as an earlier incarnation of the group as The Soul Agents. And it’s all good shit. Like, really good shit. Even there take of Hendrix‘ ‘Foxy Lady‘ is interesting and fresh.
Now all I have to do is find me some Black Merda on vinyl for my home collection.