Con Funk Shun, 7
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Second Listen Sunday: Con Funk Shun, 7

California-based R&B group Con Funk Shun was already profoundly established in the industry when album number eight arrived in record stores in June of 1981. The album carried the moniker 7. The group chose the title to honor the group’s seven members and emphasize that the number seven signifies renaissance — rebirth, the birth of something new. The project opens with “Bad Lady,” a funky number that allows Michael Cooper to show off his husky tenor.

The funk continues with “I’ll Get You Back,” which puts you in the mood to go roller skating. “Body Lovers” is another winner that keeps the party moving. While “A Song For You,” “If You’re in Need of Love,” and the rock-flavored “California 1” are all strong album tracks in their own right. Con Funk Shun has always been a cold band, but I’ve always gravitated more towards the group’s ballads. 7 features two of my favorites from the group.

“Promise You Love” is up first, and this is a song that crosses multiple musical genres. It’s a ballad with a riff start that morphs into a bluesy pre-verse beat before resting into a traditional R&B groove. I love the way the instrumentation sets up Cooper to serenade the listener during the first verse, where he effectively croons:
“In the still of the night
Wild words were spoken
As we held each other, each other so tight
And the morning light
Found us still joined together
I was awakened by the glow in your eyes”.

Felton Pilate then comes in on verse two with his signature falsetto and lushly sings the hook. The elegant “Straight from the Heart” is up next. Felton Pilate and Michael Cooper’s vocal chemistry comes through again on this track, with the former’s falsetto mixing perfectly with the latter’s tenor. When the first line, “There’s a spell on my heart,” is sung, we know we’re in for a blissful listen.

Final Grade: B

7 is available on all streaming platforms

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