Artist: Tyrone Brunson
Album: Sticky Situation
Genre: Funk, Soul
Quality: FLAC (image+.cue)
- Sticky Situation
- I Need Love
- Go For It
- Don't You Want It
- The Smurf
- Hot Line
- New Wave Disco Punk Funk Rock
- The Smurf - 7 " Version
- I Need Love - 7 " Version
- Sticky Situation - Instrumental
- Hot Line - 7 " Instrumental
- Hot line - 7 " Version
- Hot Line - 12 " Instrumental
- Sticky Situation - 7 " Version
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When Epic/CBS Records released Tyrone Brunson’s debut solo album, Sticky Situation, in 1983, the times were a-changin’ for funk. The horn-powered sounds of Parliament/Funkadelic, Bootsy’s Rubber Band, Tower of Power, the Ohio Players, the Bar-Kays and other funksters who had been popular during the 1970s were going out of style, and a new breed of funk was emerging: one that drew on the electronic breakthroughs of Kraftwerk and favored keyboards, synthesizers, drum machines, sequencers and vocoders over trumpets, saxophones and trombones.
Singer/bassist/producer Brunson knew that change was in the air for funksters, and Sticky Situation reflects that transition to a more high-tech style of funk.
Sticky Situation was not the Washington, D.C. native’s first experience with funk. Brunson had performed in various funk/soul bands in and around the U.S. capitol in the 1970s, and one of them was Osiris. Led by singer/producer Osiris Marsh, Osiris were an intriguing but underexposed outfit that had a strong Sly & the Family Stone influence and shared Earth, Wind & Fire’s fascination with Egyptology. Osiris (which also included jazz saxophonist Ron Holloway) enjoyed an enthusiastic local following but never became well known nationally, and when Warner Bros. Records released Osiris’ album, Since Before Our Time, in 1979, the LP’s strongest sales were in Washington, DC and nearby Baltimore. Brunson played electric bass on Since Before Our Time, showing his appreciation of former Sly & the Family Stone bassist turned Graham Central Station leader Larry Graham.
Brunson didn’t do any lead singing on Since Before Our Time; Marsh handled all the lead vocals. It wasn’t until after Brunson parted company with Marsh and launched a solo career in the early 1980s that he started to make his mark nationally as a singer.
In 1982—three years after Since Before Our Time—Brunson signed a contract with Epic/CBS Records and recorded his first solo single, “The Smurf,” an infectious instrumental that tapped into the popularity of the animated children’s television series The Smurfs and
reached #14 on Billboard’s R&B singles chart in the United States. With its heavy emphasis on keyboards and synthesizers, “The Smurf” was obviously a departure from the 1970s-style funk Brunson had played with Osiris. And Brunson continued in that synth-funk vein throughout Sticky Situation. “Hot Line” (a minor hit that made it to #70 on Billboard‘s R&B singles chart), the title track (a #25 R&B hit in Billboard) and other keyboards-drenched grooves made it crystal clear that Brunson had moved on and taken the synth-funk plunge. But that is not to say that Brunson had totally forgotten about the 1970s. His electric bass playing still had a heavy Larry Graham influence, and melodically, Brunson continued to be influenced by the funksters he had gotten hip to during the 1970s. One hears hints of the late Rick James on “I Need Love” (which was the b-side of “The Smurf”) and a definite Cameo influence on “Don’t You Want It,” “Go For It” and “Hot Line” (which shouldn’t be confused with the Sylvers’ 1976 smash). But in terms of production style, Sticky Situation is worlds apart from Since Before Our Time.
With Osiris, Brunson had a supporting role; on Sticky Situation, he is very much in the driver’s seat. In addition to producing the album and writing or co-writing all of the material, Brunson provides all of the lead vocals.
“New Wave Disco Punk Funk Rock” is easily the most rock-influenced groove on Sticky Situation and is a prime example of the mutually beneficial relationship that R&B and new wave enjoyed in 1983. Soul, funk and disco influenced a long list of major new wave artists during the 1980s, including the Talking Heads, Thomas Dolby, Blondie, the Human League, Soft Cell and ABC. At the same time, elements of new wave were incorporated by major R&B stars such as the Pointer Sisters, Shalamar, the System and, of course, Prince (who was as much of a rock star as he was an R&B star). Indeed, one need only listen to Shalamar’s “Dead Giveaway,” the Pointer Sisters’ “Neutron Dance,” Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” or Vanity 6’s “Nasty Girl” (written by Prince) to know how much new wave affected R&B in the 1980s. The fact that some people in the rock world had been screaming “Death to disco!” in the late 1970s seemed like a distant memory when the new wave and R&B worlds were influencing one another so much in 1982 and 1983—and Brunson was obviously well aware of all that new wave/R&B interaction when he wrote “New Wave Disco Punk Funk Rock,” which draws on the influence of Bootsy Collins (a James Brown and George Clinton alumni and one of the top p-funk stars of the late 1970s) but does so in a way that is also mindful of rock.
FunkyTownGrooves’ expanded CD edition of Sticky Situation contains all seven of the tracks that appeared on the original 1983 LP as well as four bonus tracks: the abridged 7” single version of “The Smurf,” an instrumental recording of the title song and single versions of “Hot Line” and “I Need Love.” It should be noted that this Tyrone Brunson is not the only celebrity who has that name; there is also a well-known boxer named Tyrone Brunson. But the boxer is from Philadelphia—not Washington D.C.—and he wasn’t born until 1985, which was two years after Sticky Situation came out.
Brunson didn’t abandon synth-funk after Sticky Situation. In fact, his funk became even more high-tech on his 1984 follow-up Fresh. And his relationship with synth-funk continued when he moved from Epic/CBS to MCA with 1987’s James Mtume-produced Love Triangle (which, despite the participation of a major producer/songwriter, fell through the cracks commercially).
Between the time he joined Osiris in the late 1970s and the time he recorded Sticky Situation, Brunson witnessed a lot of changes in the R&B landscape. But his commitment to the funk never waned, and that commitment is alive and well on Sticky Situation.
by Alex Henderson