Numero Group Rereleases Boscoe’s Funk

Numero Group always finds something interesting to bring back from the dead. Whether it’s dusting off a never-before-released album of the St. Joseph based psych-band White Eyes or compiling forgotten artists in Kosmic City, Numero Group never has a dull release. Boscoe’s Boscoe is no different. The early 70s afro-funk band makes the type of music that is as fresh today as it was when it was made.

Boscoe rumbles with an energy that stays taut throughout each of its eight songs. Its bass booms under the various brass and woodwinds. Its vocals chomp through their melodies with an intensity unlike anything I’ve heard. One-part reggae, one-part funky big band, one-part bebop, Boscoe constantly surprises. As shown on “He Keeps You,” the album’s de facto single, Boscoe mixes a variety of styles to make songs that jiggle in the best way.

With riffs and runs like those that fill Boscoe, it’s a wonder how the release stayed underground for so long. Its original release was limited to a 500 record pressing. While acts like Earth Wind & Fire and The Pharoahs led the the push for this subculture to go mainstream and Sun Ra pushed the other way, Boscoe seemed to have been caught in limbo, a musical netherworld that kept their grooved-out message off the radar of the nation or even Chicago’s music communities. As Numero Group‘s description states, “An outsider even in an outsider subculture, Boscoe—both band and self-titled album—has been denied a place in the Great Black Music only by its own profound obscurity.”

And there is no reason a band like Boscoe should be obscure. Its songs run the gamut of structures, flitting from 4 minute rock standards to 10 min epics with smooth jazz instrumental interludes. One of my favorite tracks, “Money Won’t Save You,” seems a nice example of the album’s eclectic and energetic tone. Mixing Earth Wind & Fire-esque horns with the vocal smoothness of Bills Withers, the song keeps its tone danceable even as its lyrics read their current economic climate (which seems apropos to the contemporary one too).

This ability of Boscoe to speak through time to the current problems in the US is another draw to the album. Whether it talks about race relations (“Writin On The Wall,” or “We Ain’t Free”), or dismal economic conditions (“He Keeps You” or “Money Won’t Save You”), or even about love (“I’m What You Need”), or any combination of the three, Boscoe seems as relevant today as it was in the early 70s. Definitely, a record and band to check out, Boscoe will not disappoint with its “crawling funk fusion as eager to blast us awake with harsh words as with insistent horns.”

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