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<<   PBS 106.7FM - Real Radio - Amnesty - Free Your Mind - The 700 West Sessions (Now Again/ 700 West)   >>
cover Amnesty : Free Your Mind

PBS 106.7FM - Real Radio - Amnesty - Free Your Mind - The 700 West Sessions (Now Again/ 700 West)

Long relegated to various rarity compilations, Indianapolis eight-piece Amnesty (meaning second chance) have finally been recognised in a collection of recordings kept by long-time band archivist, bassist, and keeper-of-the-faith James Red Massie. The result is a melting pot of early 70s psychedelic funk, jazz, rock and vocal harmonies. A strange combination, it attempts to catalogue the groups evolution as they seek satisfaction in their second stab at fame.

Although they originally released only one 7-inch for the Lamp label (home of other psychedelic funk acts such as the Ebony Rhythm Band and The Diplomatics), Amnesty found a home at Moe Whittemores 700 West Studio in 1973. Here, along with that fateful 7-inch, they taped five hard funk numbers and a string of ballads and demos. From these sessions, they released Three Cheers for Baby and Lord Help Me as the B-side. The former song showcases their vocal abilities and their love for Temptations-inspired harmonies. Similar to other tracks on this compilation such as We've Come A Long Way, the backing of these vocal tracks is incredibly gritty and real. Amnesty's sophisticated sweep and flow of horns, wah-wah, and percussion produces an amazing intensity; one which transcends the boundaries of pop.

On the released B-side, Lord Help Me dishes out a hot serving of supergroovalistic-parliament-thang. While the brass arrangement doesnt sit with the likes of Fred Wesley, the call/response idiom familiar to gospel and the scathing proto-political/economic musings (the price of meat/almost higher than dope in the streets) are a fine slice of funk. This particular track sheds real light on the groups potential.

Elsewhere, the opener Can I Help You? and Mister President seem to combine the rhythms of Cymande with the psychedelic contemplations of Indianapolis brothers-in-arms Ebony Rhythm Band - a combination which seems to flavour many of the featured recordings. Love Fades is also steeped in funkadelic flavours that wouldnt be out of place on Cosmic Slop.

Not only does Free Your Mind showcase the talent of a greatly overlooked funk act, it is also a damn fine record for your average funk listener.

Tom Noonan

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