The Mighty Boosh’s Old Gregg described ‘the funk’ as a living, breathing outer space entity that whose crash landing on planet earth gave us George Clinton’s magnificent Parliament/ Funkadelic project, as well as inspiring a host of funky disciples (even the Bee Gees). Apparently the funk has made its way to Belfast and into the safe hands of Green Monkey, whose debut EP sees them channel the maximum RnB of their heroes.
Kicking things off with the scratchy riff of ‘Young Bloods’, frontman MC Coolikedat shortly joins with ice cool flow over Ciaran Buchanan’s slinky bassline. With a chilled groove that Sly Stone would be proud of, the band add keyboards and gang-style backing vocals to compliment Coolikedat’s jive talking ghetto bravado. The delightfully tongue in cheek warning in the song’s chorus: ‘Young bloods coming up/ Get yo hands up’ captures the tune’s ‘Samuel L Jackson monologue’ style perfectly. Guitar slinger Eamon Donnelly cranks up the volume and wah wah, which along with Michael Smith’s increasingly hard hitting drums sees the track’s outro take on a Faith No More style funk metal turn.
Picking up the pace is Fuck Years, Coolikedat’s hilariously filthy declaration of his seemingly infinite list of conquests that would leave a young Anthony Keidis reaching for his sexual thesaurus. Most of the rhymes couldn’t be published here without a Parental Advisory sticker, but credit must go to the genius ‘They call me James Black ‘cause I’m blacker than James Brown’ as the number’s dirty funk would sound perfectly at home during the Godfather of Soul’s setlist in his 70s heyday. All in all tremendous fun, but you may want to take a good long shower after hearing this one.
Fuck Years is followed by the brooding gangster movie homage ‘Hush’. Recalling the dark imagery of the masterful superstar Blaxploitation soundtracks of the early 70s (Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man, Isaac Hayes’ Shaft and most obviously Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly), the heaviest song on the EP gives a satisfying chilling change of mood to proceedings, featuring the same, ‘look over your shoulder’ urban paranoia of Nas’s masterpiece Illmatic (‘I’m on the block/ You better open up when I knock’). If not quite producing a ‘Belfast State of Mind’, Green Monkey show on this that there are more strings to their bow than solely writing big fun party anthems.
That said, big fun party anthems are no bad thing and Green Monkey know this better than most: rounding things off with a live version of old favourite Time To Get Up, the cut finds the boys in their natural element, bringing their exhilaratingly groovy punk-funk to a clearly delighted audience. Capturing the infectious energy of a Green Monkey gig, this version features every element of Green Monkey’s signature sound: Donnelly’s fretboard pyrotechnics, Smith’s crashing drums, Coolikedat’s superb ad-libbed jive talking (‘Why doncha all kick a funk beat? Clap yo’ hands’) and a breakdown featuring a bassline so funky you’ll want to take George Clinton’s Atomic Dog for a walk on it.
So the house of Green Monkey is in full effect, slinging the some of the greatest blue-eyed funk rock since a certain group of bare chested young men stepped out of LA in the mid 1980s, and Green Monkey will be a breath of fresh to those tired of the soulless, Frusciante-less current Chili Peppers incarnation. Next time you’re planning an uplift mofo party playlist, these funky monks are essential.
◀ STANDOUT ⁞ Fuck Years ▶
◀ SOUNDS LIKE ⁞ Red Hot Chili Peppers | Curtis Mayfield ▶