Rediscovery: Peanut Butter Wolf puts Tony Cook's and Dâm Funk's '80s jams in the spotlight
In conjunction with this week's Noise Pop cover story on Peanut Butter Wolf (a.k.a. Chris Manak) and Dâm-Funk (a.k.a. Damon Riddick), over the next two days I'll be sharing some quotes from the two, as well as music and video from a couple of recently-issued mid-1980s recordings that the pair love. First up is Tony Cook's Back to Reality, which has just been released, with equally terrific orginal cover art, by Manak's label, Stones Throw.
Back to Reality is a result of Manak's passion for assorted independent singles by Cook, who drummed for James Brown and Etta James and performed odd jobs while recording his own music. Manak has remixed ten Cook tracks, some of them previously unheard, putting together a song collection that should draw some long-overdue attention to an artist who too often has had to put his creativity aside in order to pay the bills.
Tony Cook, "Heartbreaker" (feat. Vanesia Jean), original version:
Manak on Cook: "You'd think [the songs on Back to Reality] were 24-track, but he only worked on an 8-track. He was a good musician and producer. When you're bouncing tracks, you have to have a good idea of what you're doing. In those days it was hard to achieve such a full-sound [with an 8-track]. With Tony, I just started collecting his songs, and luckily enough, he had a MySpace page.
[In putting together Back to Reality] Tony was really cool about everything, really open to all of my ideas. He's enjoying the accolades. We really want to get a band together."
At Noise Pop, Manak shares a bill with Dâm-Funk, whose '80s recordings Manak gathered and selected for last year's Stones Throw release, Adolescent Funk. "When I first met Dâm," Manak recalls, "I was DJing rare '80s soul and funk, and he said, 'Oh man, I'm so glad someone else is doing this.'"
Dâm-Funk, "I Appreciate My Life," from Adolescent Funk:
The duo's shared sensibility was a factor in the genesis of Adolescent Funk. "Dâm said, 'Wolf, this Adolescent Funk is yours, you pick the songs,'" Manak recalls. On the subject of Adolescent Funk's cover image of "kids getting excited to go out at night," also drawn from Dâm-Funk's archives, Manak comes correct: "I've never seen a cover that looks like that."