Thursday, January 29, 2009

Funky Foundations.

Despite three major pop hits in two years, the Foundations were floundering by late 1969. Their final Top 10 hit ("In the Bad, Bad Old Days (Before You Loved Me)") had fallen down the charts and two subsequent releases had fallen largely on deaf ears. Fearing that their pop-soul fusion was becoming irrelevant, the group (a septet at this point) began to incorporate funkier, more contemporary sounds into their sets. In June of 1970, they released "I'm Gonna Be A Rich Man" b/w "In The Beginning," the latter track an instrumental incorporating funk drumming as well as a middle section featuring jazz flute and a harpsichord. Unfortunately, the single went nowhere and the intriguing b-side remained mostly unheard. The group was all by defunct within a few months.

Just before their breakup, however, the Foundations recorded a track entitled "Where the Fire Burns" that remained unreleased until their material was reissued on CD in the 1990s. Like "In the Beginning," its relatively obscurity is unfortunate, given that the song's cinematic jazz-funk looks forward to the blaxploitation soundtracks then still a few years in the future. Indeed, it's hard to believe that this track was recorded by the same group who brought "Build Me Up Buttercup" to the top of the U.S. charts only a year earlier. Take a listen:

"In the Beginning" - the Foundations

"Where the Fire Burns" - the Foundations

(Much of the information from this post can be found in Roger Dopson's liner notes to the Foundations' Baby, Now That I've Found You release on Sequel Records.)

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