Fred Wesley and the Horny Horns

Band members                             Related acts

- Fred Wesley -- sax, vocals


  backing musicians (1977)

- Jerome Brailey -- drums

- Brecker Brothers -- horns

- George Clinton -- vocals

- Bootsy Collins -- bass, guitar, drums, vocals

- Phelps Collins -- guitar

- Gary Cooper -- vocals

- Randy Crawford -- vocals

- Rick Gardner -- trumpet, vocals

- Glen Goins -- guitar

- Richard Griffith -- trumpet, vocals

- Michael Hampton -- guitar

- Robert Johnson -- vocals

- Taka Khan -- vocals

- Lynn Mabry -- vocals

- Maceo Parker -- sax, vocals

- Garry Shider - guitar

- Dawn Silva -- vocals

- Frank Waddy -- drums

- Bernie Worrell - keyboards, vocals



- A.A.B.B.

- The Count Bassey Orchestra (Fred Wesley)

- The J.B.s  (Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker)

- The J.B. Horns  (Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker)


Genre: funk

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Breakin' Bread

Company: People

Catalog: PE 6604

Country/State: Mobile, Alabama

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2858

Price: $40.00


While it was credited to Fred & the New J.B.'s, 1974's "Breakin' Bread" reflected an unhealthy dose of James Brown throughout the package.  The album was released on Brown's People label.  Brown's picture shows on the album cover.  Brown produced the album - the liner notes listing him as "minister of new new super heavy funky". He was responsible for co-writing most of the eight tracks with Wesley.  You could even hear him on a couple of the songs ('Little Boy Black' and 'Funky Music Is My Style'). You could also hear Wesley paying tribute to  his on a couple of the song prefaces.  In fact, musically much of the set wasn't a major change from your standard set of mid--'70s Brown-styled funk.   At the same time, Wesley got the chance to occasionally showcase his personality.  Each track started out with Wesley intoning a brief spoken word monologue.  Funk remained the primary sound, but tunes like the title track, 'I Wanna Get Down' and 'Little Boy Black' introduced early go-go and rap--styled influences into the mix.    Nah, the album wasn't perfect. 'Makin' Love' sounded like it had plagiarized The Ohio Players and 'Funky Music Is My Style' sounded like a James Brown throwaway tune.  Elsewhere, the closing instrumental 'Step Child' found the band diving headlong into bebop jazz.


"Breakin' Bread" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Breakin' Bread   (James Brown - Fred Wesley) - 4:20   rating: **** stars

Wesley's spoken word intro pretty much set the stage ...  Ever wonder where Washington DC's go-go music scene got some of it's inspiration?   Well, I'd suggest checking out 'Breakin' Bread'.   The title track was one seriously funky tune.  Filmed at an April 2010 performance at Jazz Club, Minden Germany, Wesley and his band still sound impressive:  The song was also released as a 45:





- 1974's 'Breakin' Bread' b/w 'Funky Music Is My Style' (People catalog number PE 648)  






2.) I Wanna Get Down   (James Brown - St. Clair Pinckney - Fred Wesley) - 3:14   rating: **** stars

'We have done our part to make these tracks super heavy and funky ..."    Judging by the blazing 'I Wanna Get Down', Wesley and company held up their part of the bargain.   Kicked along by an amazing bass line, this one should appeal to anyone who was a George Clinton P-Funk fan.   

3.) Little Boy Black   (James Brown - Fred Wesley) - 3:54   rating: **** stars

The first true rap song?   Certainly the first song I've ever heard that used the word "rap" ...   Wesley and Brown trading words before Wesley launched into an extended trombone solo.   Always liked Wesley's little nod to Brown's 'Down and Out In New York City' (from the "Black Caesar" soundtrack).  The irony is Wesley parted ways with Brown shortly after the album was released.

4.) Rice 'n' Ribs (instrumental)   (James Brown - Fred Wesley) - 4:05   rating: **** stars

The blazing guitar figure and bubbling Moog made it virtually impossible to sit still.  Lots of Wesley trombone on this one.  People tapped the track as a single:





- 1974's 'Rice 'n' Ribs' b/w 'Making Love' (People catalog number PE 651)




(side 2)
1.) Rockin' Funky Watergate   (Deidre Brown) - 5:16
   rating: **** stars

Hard not to smile at this one.  Guess American radio was afraid to touch it, but it was released as a French single:





- 1074's 'Rockin' Funky Watergate'  Parts 1 and 2 (Polydor catalog number 2066 496)







2.) Makin' Love   (James Brown - Fred Wesley) - 3:36  rating: *** stars

As others have pointed out, Wesley and company were lucky The Ohio Players didn't slap them with a copyright action.   'Makin' Love' sounded very much like The Ohio Players' 'Skin Tight'.  

3.) Funky Music Is My Style   (James Brown - Fred Wesley - Bob Bothl) - 3:24  rating: *** stars

With Brown adding his voice to the mix, 'Funky Music Is My Style' started out as a nice little Jimmy Nolen guitar riff that was eventually ground down to dust.   I did like the increasingly frantic horns.

4.) Step Child (instrumental)   (James Brown - Fred Wesley) - 6:43  rating: *** stars

The instrumental 'Step Child' was unlike anything else on the album.  Ditching funk, the track found Wesley and company dipping their collective toes into hard core jazz - almost bebop-ish.   Not sure funk fans will appreciate it, but I found it oddly fascinating.




Genre: funk

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  A Blow for Me A Toot To You

Company: Atlantic

Catalog: SD 18214

Country/State: Mobile, Alabama

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 826

Price: SOLD $25.00


Best known his work with James Brown (he did two stints with Brown), in 1977 Fred Wesley stepped into a solo career with an able assist from George Clinton, Bootsy Collins (himself a former James Brown alumni), and a sizeable collection of Clinton's P-Funk empire.   


Co-produced by Clinton and Collins, there was no way around the fact most of 1977's "A Blow for Me A Toot For You" bore more than a passing resemblance to a P-Funk album.  The fact Clinton and Collins helped write most of the six tracks and played on almost all of the album certainly fed the comparison.  So that means anyone into P-Funk was liable to find this right up their enjoyment alley.  On the other hand, if you weren't a fan of Clinton's occasional self-promotion and iconic funk stylings, this set probably wasn't for you.  I'm somewhere in the middle.  As a college kid I was all over P-Funk, but over time much of it started to sound similar and kind of irritating.   This is an exception - one of the reasons being Wesley and company sounded like they were having fun throughout the grooves.   Lots of highlights on the package, including an energetic remake of Parliaments 'Up for the Down Stroke' (with the Brides of Funkenstein Lynn Mabry and Dawn Silva providing vocals), the blazing funk instrumental 'Four Play', and Wesley's own, surprisingly contemplative 'Peace Fugue'.


"A Blow for Me A Toot To You" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Up for the Down Stroke   (William Collins - Bernie Worrell - George Clinton) - 9:10

So why not start off with a Parliament cover ?   Maybe not quite as over-the-top as the original, but all told, Wesley and company did themselves proud on 'Up for the Down Stroke'.  Extremely propulsive - this was funk for folks who didn't really like the genre.    Atlantic tapped the song as a single.   rating: **** stars

2.) A Blow for Me A Toot To You   (George Clinton - William Collins - Fred Wesley) - 7:20

Less funky than the first song, the title track served as a showcase for Wesley and the rest of the Horny Horns.  You also got to hear Collins' burbling bass line and Worrell's somewhat dated synthesizer washes.   Technically it wasn't an instrumental, though the vocal was little more than an atonal group chant.   rating: *** stars

3.) When In Doubt Vamp (instrumental)   (George Clinton - Garry Shider - Bernie Worrell) - 4:21

The first half of the horn-propelled instrumental 'When In Doubt Vamp' sounded like something out of a Christians-waiting-for-the-lions-in-the-coliseum movie.  The second half sounded like a funky James Brown interlude.    rating: *** stars


(side 2)
1.) Between Two Sheets   (George Clinton - Williams - Maceo Parker) - 6:50

'Between Two Sheets' was kind of a routine funk workout, highlighted by Collins "space" bass and Wesley's hysterical vamp - this one sounding a bit like Fred Schneider and the B-52s trying to sound like P-Funk.    rating: *** stars

2.) Four Play (instrumental)   (George Clinton - William Collins - Glen Goins) - 8:03

Geez, anyone who doubted horns could get funky (and I count myself among that crew), should check out 'Four Play'.   OMG !!!   This song just oozes funk.  Bootsy's thumping bass line kept the whole thing on target.  Curiously, Atlantic briefly released the song as a single, but apparently had second thoughts (perhaps having to do with the risqué title), and pulled it.  Recorded in 2003, YouTube has a killer clip of The Fred Wesley Group playing the song at a French club:     rating: ***** stars

3.) Peace Fugue (instrumental)   (Fred Wesley) - 6:00

The lone Wesley original, 'Peace Fugue' was also unlike anything else on the album - a stark, contemplative ballad, the song had a jazzy feel that set it apart from the rest of the set.   Can't speak for everyone, but I thought it was one of the album highlights.  rating: **** stars


As mentioned there were two singles, though I've only seen the first one in promo format and the second one was hastily recalled by Atlantic:   


- 1977's 'Up For The Down Stroke' b/w 'When In Doubt Vamp' (Atlantic catalog number 3408)


12" format

- 1977's 'Four Play' b/w 'Four Play' (Atlantic catalog number ???)