Evolution cover
Released

As a member of the Funk Brothers, guitarist Dennis Coffey had already concluded the ’60s and ushered in the ’70s with a panoply of appearances on hit records that ushered Motown through the psychedelic-soul reign of Norman Whitfield. But a headliner hit? He’d already tried in ’69 with Hair and Thangs, a grab-bag of Hair/Beatles/Isleys numbers that played like agreeably raw garage funk but still failed to chart so much as a stray single. “Scorpio” changed all that: a thoroughly wild-eyed filth-and-fuzz instrumental that took lysergic funk to absurd yet catchy lengths, it not only gave Coffey a top 10 smash on both pop and R&B charts but went on to become an every-part-of-the-buffalo sample source thanks to its legendary percussive break (courtesy of fellow Funk Brothers Uriel Jones, Richard “Pistol” Allen, and Eddie “Bongo” Brown) and an endless parade of big dumb amazing earworm guitar riffs (nine overdubbed in the opening alone!). If all Evolution had to offer beyond that was a succession of sons of “Scorpio,” it’d probably still be pretty damn solid; thrumming opener “Getting It On” and a snarling Zep cover understatedly retitled “Whole Lot of Love” prove as much. But the deeper cuts find other routes for Coffey and his band — Funk Brothers alumni all, with the exception of then-Funkadelic/Rare Earth guitarist Ray Monette — to lay down some characteristic distortions, ranging from pleasantly bucolic pop-soul (“Summer Time Girl”) to semi-acoustic space-age psych-exotica (“Garden of the Moon”).

Nate Patrin

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