NO MATTER WHAT nay-sayers say, go-go, D.C.'s indigenous funk sound, is still go-going strong. And the proof is in the roster at Friday's show at Capital Centre; it features almost all the go-go greats, with the exception of Trouble Funk.
From the sounds of the recent crop of go-go discs, most of the hometown bands are taking a cue from Trouble Funk and getting some studio savvy, breaking out of the "live recording" rut that never really transmitted the energy of a go-go gig anyway.
E.U. (Experience Unlimited) has added a few guest members and done some experimenting with the basic go-go mix on their new album "GO Ju Ju GO" (Big City Record Empire BCR 0011). The title track opens with an African visitor getting into a cab at D.C. National -- and the cabbie takes him right to a go-go. The resulting track crosses the bright melodies and African/Caribbean rhythms of juju music with the loping go-go beat. While remaining true to the congas-and-cowbells base of go-go, Little Benny & The Masters are moving into a smoother, more mainstream soul sound on their LP "Cat in the Hat" (Big City Record Empire). Trumpeter/singer Benny Harley leads his big band through a seamless suite of eight grooves, including the anti-crack title track, and gets a live sound in the studio.
On "Live at Celebrity Hall" (Sounds of the Capital RE 610), Rare Essence works out before a good, noisy crowd, but the record isn't very satisfying, as everything but the basic drum pulse comes out a bit tinny on tracks like "Re Herman 2X" and their clever go-go-ized cover of the Dixie Cups' "Iko Iko." Two worthy new go-go 12" records include Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers' sassy reworking of the Harry Belafonte standard "Day-O" (Future F-0026); and "Do Your
hing" (Future F-0024), with Hot Cold Sweat simmering within a dense, echoey minor-key groove.
Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers, Rare Essence, E.U., Little Benny & the Masters, The Junk Yard Band, Go-Go Lorenzo, DC Scorpio, Hot Cold Sweat, appearing Friday at the Capital Centre.