I Need Some Money

I Need Some Money

Perhaps inspired by his partner Les McCann’s vocal forays, Eddie Harris unleashed his first all-singing album in 1974. There is winking bitterness in the title. It both preempts the inevitable cries of “sellout” from jazz purists, and shows that Harris has a sense of humor about himself. Just as Stevie Wonder had served as the inspiration for McCann’s R&B songs, Harris’ model here is Sly Stone — specifically, the Sly Stone of There’s A Riot Goin’ On and Fresh. I Need Some Money is best understood as an analog to those albums rather than in the context of Harris’ earlier work. Harris makes full use of the tsk-tsk-tapping drum machine that had recently become Sly’s obsession, and he uses his voice to inhabit the same claustrophobic, narcotized space that was Sly’s stomping ground. Harris’ audience at the time was at best baffled and at worst offended, but in retrospect, I Need Some Money is a raw and murky journey into basement funk, a genre that includes not only the aforementioned Sly albums, but Shuggie Otis’s Inspiration Information and Miles Davis’ On the Corner.

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