Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Black Merda

Released 1970 on Chess Records
Reviewed by Paul Fuzz, 10/08/2006ce

They come from the somewhere out in the Dee-troit wilderness, skulking in the shadows cast by the first Funkadelic LP, 'Do Your Thing' by The 103rd Watts Street Rhthm Band and Hendrix's 'Band Of Gypsys' experiment...they call 'em BLACK MERDA...their souls psychedelicised, their RnB soaked in acid spiked electric Kool Aid...sometimes you'll see this sorta Chambers Brothers fonk catorgorised as 'black rock', and brother you best believe rock don't get much blacker than Black Merda, but music history will be pimping 'em like bitches fer sure if they go down in the record books as simply 'A Great BLACK Rock Band.' Like, shit, they weren't CREAM, but they did OK for a buncha black dudes, right? Forget that. They were A Great Band, period. Maybe Chess never recorded 'em right. Maybe they were tougher, meaner than this LP gives 'em credit for. Maybe if you caught 'em on a good night in some dive bar in Dee-troit they woulda stomped your head like the heaviest muvvas on the planet. Whatever. Badly produced or not, it's still a damn funky piece of work. Power Of Zeus complained that Motown never got THEIR sound right either, but I've never heard any complaints from anybody when I drop 'Mole People' on 'em. So fer yer dollars you get a buncha fat wah-wah fuelled thumpers, some freaky instrumental jams, revolutionary sloganeering, chain gang doo-wop hollerin' & bags of super dynamite soul. This ain't one GONZO FUNK STEAM ROLLER after another, no sir. Black Merda were diverse muvva fuggers, able to flip the script at the drop of a hat; 'Think Of Me' is a fairly straight acoustic folk-blues, and all the more welcome for it, while 'Reality' is a gorgeous RnB slow burn oozin' real class and craft...but if its GONZO FUNK STEAM ROLLERS you want, 'Prophet' & 'Cynthy Ruth' oughta satisfy in that department, and then some. Put simply: these cats knew what the hell they were doin.' You can read their biog eleswhere, 'bout how they used to be called The Soul Agents and toured with Edwin Starr & Gene "Duke Of Earl" Chandler, how Motown courted 'em but they turned 'em down 'cos they thought the Motown thang was played out, 'bout how they signed to Chess 'cos they dug Muddy Water's Electric Mud LP so much, and how Chess never promoted 'em properly yadda yadda yadda...but I ain't gonna rap with you 'bout any of that now. You've got other business to attend to, like getting hold of a copy of this LP, takin' it home and lettin' it spin on your record player for a couple of days while you do nothin' but kick back with a recreational drug of your choice & dig on the stoned majesty of Black Merda.

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