The Funk Brothers – The Best of

The Funk Brothers was the nickname given to a group of Detroit, Michigan session musicians who performed on the backing tracks to most Motown Records recordings from 1959 until 1972, when the company moved to Los Angeles. The Funk Brothers played on many major Motown hits such as “My Guy”, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”, “Baby Love”, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours”, “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”, “The Tears of a Clown”, and “(Love is Like a) Heat Wave”. The role of the Funk Brothers is described in Paul Justman’s 2002 documentary film Standing in the Shadows of Motown, based on Alan Slutsky’s book of the same name The opening titles of the film proclaim the Funk Brothers as “having played on more number-one records than The Beatles, Elvis, The Rolling Stones, and The Beach Boys combined.”


Notable members

Early members included bandleader Joe Hunter and Earl Van Dyke (piano); James Jamerson (bass guitar); William “Benny” Benjamin and Richard “Pistol” Allen (drums); Robert White, Eddie Willis, and Joe Messina (guitar); Jack Ashford (tambourine, percussion, vibes, marimba); Jack Brokensha (vibes, marimba); and Eddie “Bongo” Brown (percussion). Hunter left in 1964, replaced on keyboards by Johnny Griffith and as bandleader by Van Dyke. Around the same time Uriel Jones joined the band as a third drummer.

In 1967, guitarists Dennis Coffey and Melvin “Wah-Wah Watson” Ragin, who introduced the wah-wah pedal sound that defined Motown’s psychedelic soul records, joined the band. Benny Benjamin died the next year, and Bob Babbitt began to replace James Jamerson on many recording dates. The Funk Brothers were a racially integrated band. Most members were black; Messina, Brokensha, Babbitt, and Coffey were white.

The Funk Brothers – The Best of

1. The Way You Do the Things You Do
2. Come See About Me
3. All for You
4. To Many Fish in the Sea
5. How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)
6. I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)
7. Soul Stomp
8. 6 by 6
9. Runaway Child, Running Wild
10. The Stingray
11. What’s Going On (Instrumental)
12. Papa Was a Rolling Stone (Instrumental)

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