Michael Henderson Shines on Unearthed Marvin Gaye Instrumental Album
Marvin Gaye’s iconic album What’s Going On turned 50 this year, and Motown/UMe celebrated with a deluxe digital edition that combines the original album with tracks from previously released special editions. It also has 12 bonus tracks from the LP’s original mono single versions and their B-sides.
The album is no doubt a gem and has the gold standard of bass lines, thanks to the work of James Jamerson and Bob Babbitt. However, bassists will be interested to hear an accompanying album called Funky Nation: The Detroit Instrumentals that was recorded in the late summer and fall of 1971 in lieu of touring.
The master soul singer cut fourteen funk and rock jams with a one-time band led by drummer Hamilton Bohannan. That group included Ray Parker, Jr., Wah Wah Watson, Leroy Emmanuel, and Michael Henderson. Even though he was only 20, Henderson had already worked with Stevie Wonder and began his tenure with Miles Davis. His playing on Funky Nation is nimble and melodic without losing any sense of groove. Fifty years later and it still sounds fresh.
Just listen to his fills on the opening track, “Checking Out (Double Clutch)”:
Gaye is only peripherally on the album to announce the band and scat from time to time. Some tracks from Funky Nation have been released on previous box sets, but this is the first time it’s been released on its own. If you’re looking for some inspiring jams, look no further.
Funky Nation: The Detroit Instrumentals Track List:
- Checking Out (Double Clutch)
- Country Stud
- Help the People
- Running From Love (Version 1/Edit)
- Doing My Thing
- “T” Stands for Time
- Jesus is Our Love Song
- Funky Nation
- Struttin’ The Blues
- Running From Love (Version 2/With Strings)