Photos by Nick Tomecek
When local musician Howlin’ Jack visited the newsroom for the DN Concert Series, he brought me a few gifts made in my favorite material: vinyl.
In a stack of records, one album cover immediately caught my attention. With its vivid pink color and open-mouth image, Rufus’ 1975 album, “Rufus featuring Chaka Khan,” drew me in.
Despite my quick inclination toward the album, worst funk fan in the world award goes to me.
Although I was familiar with frontwoman Chaka Khan, I’d never listened to any of Rufus’ albums. After only the first few seconds of listening to its fourth studio album, I knew it was my style.
It starts with “Fool’s Paradise,” intermittently highlighting the power and softness of Chaka Khan’s vocals. All I could think was, wow.
“Have a Good Time” is certainly the most fun on the record; I adore the lyrics. When Chaka Khan points out the party is not over, boy do I believe her. In fact, I have no reason not to believe everything this strong singer says.
Who said this party’s over?
When I feel like my fun has just begun
Together we will raise this roof and party
And have a good time, yeah
If they don’t play this song at wedding receptions, then DJs around the world need to explain themselves. “Ooh I Like Your Loving” maintains the same upbeat tempo.
“Everybody’s Got an Aura” is perhaps the most unexpected title on the record. Just trying to accomplish repeatedly using the wordy phrase “Everybody’s got an aura” seems like a feat, but Chaka Khan does it.
“Everybody’s got an aura,” she quickly rattles off in a funky tone. “It can either work against ya or it can work for ya,” she coos. No truer words, Chaka Khan.
“Sweet Thing” is the song I was most familiar with on the record, and it’s gorgeous. I live for the rhythmic chant in the song’s final minute and a half.
You are my heat, You are my fire
You’re not mine, I can’t deny it
Things speed up again with “Dance Wit Me,” and I can’t help but notice a common thread. Gavin Christopher wrote this song along with “Fool’s Paradise” and “Have a Good Time,” three of the record’s best songs, in my opinion.
It seems it was Christopher who gave “Rufus featuring Chaka Khan” its “get down,” so to speak.
Through my Internet research, I’ve found Rufus frequently compared to Earth, Wind & Fire and the Isley Brothers. The comparisons make perfect sense, because all three groups are known for diverse musical careers.
One of Rufus’ defining factors is Chaka Khan, whose name someone obviously felt was worth mentioning in this record’s title. The Grammy Award-winning vocalist is definitely the star power behind the group.
I have a lot more listening to do before I make any further observations about Rufus, but I look forward to hearing more.
Earrings, romper - Forever 21
Shoes - G by Guess