Idris Muhammad's jazzcid trip album 'Turn This Mutha Out' is worthy of your ears
This 1977 album is a funk filled jazzcid trip, showing off Idris Muhammad's skills as a drummer, writer, producer, arranger…you name it. Muhammad smashes every element and presents a musical piece that feels like the most structured jam session you could ever hear, without unnecessary effects and over-compensating polishes. Turn This Mutha Out’s opening track, ‘Could Heaven Ever Be Like This’, is by far the highlight of the album, it's an 8 and a half minute journey through horn-filled disco, psychedelic rock, and bongo funk. Recognisable to a modern crowd thanks to Jamie xx's brilliant sampling of the track on his song ‘Loud Places’. The original version is a completely different monster, with a fun percussion arrangement, sexy guitar licks, playful synth solos, big horn sections, and Idris Muhammad doing his thing on the drums. As an album performed by a jazz drummer, there are lots of moments where he builds up to huge crescendos and keeps it rhythmically groovy. This song is in my top 50 disco songs of all time, it is noticeably different to most other tunes from the genre. Whilst the track bears some comparison to other artists, this song leaves a unique mark - like a heavy punch to a disco ball, smashing the conventions into glittery funk fragments. ‘Could Heaven Ever Be Like This’ sounds like Kiki Gyan and Jimi Hendrix had a lovechild, that’s on crack, and can fly, in space.
Turn This Mutha Out takes many twists and turns, with the second track being worlds apart from the album’s opener. ‘Camby Bolongo’ is heavy on percussion and wind instruments, it would be fitting in Blaxploitation films of the 70s; this African jazz sound has a beautifully chaotic beat. The title track for the record is a disco funk number but, similarly to the album's opener, features some guitar solos straight off of a psychedelic rock album with a Herbie Hancock flare about it. ‘Turn This Mutha Out’ is a foot-tapper that could've come straight from the mind of Marvin Gaye...on acid. The backing singers here, and on the whole album, have some wonderful harmonies that sound pitch perfect and very sexy. This is not the only sexy tune, as ‘Tasty Cakes’ is arguably the naughtiest number on this album, with lyrics like 'goodness sakes, shake those tasty cakes' or 'keep your sweet thing moving', it’s hardly subtle but is a really playful track that does not feel derogatory, just cheeky instead (pardon the pun).
The last three tracks on Turn This Mutha Out highlight Idris Muhammad’s jazz roots, with ‘Crab Apple’ being an example of jazz funk at its finest, plus it's got a proper tasty bassline. On ‘Moon Hymn’ the album takes a breather from the punchy upbeat numbers and produces a pleasant soft jazz song, with a melodic sax taking centre stage and singing along to Idris Muhammad's smooth drum beat. This ones got baby makin' playlist written all over it, complete adulterated unprotected sax. Muhammad closes this release with ‘Say What’, which features Jazz flutes and wind pipes dancing on top of a bassline that is clearly influenced by Herbie Hancock's 'Chameleon'. There's room here for everyone, with each instrument having a moment to show off (Eric Gale’s guitar solo is mind-blowing). The whole album is half funky Blaxploitation film score and half disco dance-floor ecstasy, it’s one of those rarities where every track has something to offer, not a single song lets Turn This Mutha Out down and it is definitely worth your ears.