Milo Z

Basic Need to Howl

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Horn-powered funk bands were huge in the '70s, but around 1983, their popularity decreased considerably -- and the new funk that caught on was a high-tech synth-funk/electro-funk style that emphasized synthesizers and drum machines. Some '70s funksters survived by going high-tech and reducing or eliminating horns; Cameo, for example, had no problem changing with the times. But a lot of '70s horn bands fell by the wayside. Nonetheless, those who craved a '70s-like funk sound remained -- they continued to faithfully attend George Clinton's concerts, and they acquired every Ohio Players reissue they could get their hands on. That '70s obsession permeates singer Milo Z's Basic Need to Howl, which came out in 1994 but often sounds like it could have been recorded in 1974. Occasionally, this '70s-minded funk singer raps, but that is Milo's only acknowledgment of '80s and '90s tastes. And even when Milo raps, his interracial band never favors a high-tech hip-hop production style -- Milo prefers a horn-powered band sound, not a programmed sound. Unapologetically retro, Basic Need to Howl is a throwback to the days of Parliament/Funkadelic, the Ohio Players, Sly & the Family Stone, Tower of Power, and Earth, Wind & Fire. Although Milo is white, his voice has a very Gil Scott-Heron-ish quality. But while Scott-Heron's music was soul with jazz references, Milo is a funkster with a rock edge (although he isn't any more rock-influenced than Funkadelic or the Isley Brothers). Overall, Milo's songs are decent -- he won't win any awards for innovation, but he's good at what he does. Far from a big seller, Basic Need to Howl didn't take long to go out of print. But it's worth searching for if you're a die-hard fan of horn-powered, '70s-style funk.

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