Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fugi - Mary Don't Take Me On No Bad Trip

Fugi's 1969 single "Mary Don't Take Me On No Bad Trip" is what you might call a funky nugget. Funky, heavy, druggy and slightly paranoid, the song would have sounded right at home on Funkadelic's lysergic apex, Free Your Mind... And Your Ass Will Follow. Truth be told, it would have been a stand-out track on that album. But virtually nothing was heard from Fugi (aka Ellington Jordan) for years following the release of that one spectacular single on Chess subsidiary Cadet in 1969.

Information about Fugi and Jordan is scarce. Executives at Cadet purportedly passed on releasing a full length Fugi LP because they considered the music too "druggy." A full album worth of material recorded for Cadet around the same time as the single was finally issued by the Funky Delicacies label in 2005, but appears to have gone out-of-print on CD. At least some of the material on the album was recorded with fellow Detroit psychedelic funkateers Black Merda.

A couple more Fugi singles appeared in the early 70s, including "I'd Rather Be a Blind Man," a song co-written by Jordan that was recorded as "I'd Rather Go Blind" by Etta James, Clarence Carter, Fleetwood Mac, Rod Stewart, Paul Weller, and literally dozens of others. Not much more was heard from Jordan until Shaak, a CD credited to Fugi, was released on the Bogalusa label in 2003. Almost Home, credited to Ellington Jordan, appeared in 2005. I can't tell you any more than that, but I'm guessing there's much, much more to the story (Jordan discusses some drug issues in the reissue liners). Talent like this doesn't just disappear for such an extended period without there being a story there.

This version of "Mary" is what appeared on the a-side of the original single, and was also included on the spectacular Rhino Compilation, In Yo' Face!: The Roots of Funk, Vol. 1/2. The single was originally issued as one of those "pt.1/pt.2" deals (so this is "pt. 1"). To my ears this edited version sounds harder and funkier than the extended version that appears on the Funky Delicacies album. I suspect it's a result of a punchier, more compressed mix. It's killer.

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