While best known for his production on chart-topping cybernetic disco anthems such as Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” or his own “Menergy”, Cowley, who passed away from AIDS-related illness in 1982, left us with a substantial body of work. Since 2009, Dark Entries has been working with Cowley’s friends and family to shed light on the lesser known facets of this singular artist’s output. This has resulted in a string of celebrated archival albums, including Catholic (featuring Jorge Socarras), School Daze, Muscle Up, Afternooners, and the recent Mechanical Fantasy Box. Some Funkettes, the latest addition to this series, is a collection of previously unreleased cover songs recorded from 1975-1977. These raw, unembellished tributes both showcase Cowley’s early musical interests and chart the development of his production techniques.
Some Funkettes opens with Cowley’s sauntering instrumental rendition of “Do It Anyway You Wanna”, the disco classic by People’s Choice. Next is a psychedelic reworking of the Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”, here hazily retitled “Papa Wuzza Rollinston”. Over its 7 minute runtime, the track’s metronomic, minimal groove builds to a frantic synth solo - this is pure Bay Area motorik. “Spiked Punch”, a curious riff on Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon” follows. Cowley’s lurching, minimalist reimagining of Hancock’s opus prefigures the work he would later do on Sylvester’s masterpiece “I Need Somebody to Love Tonight”. Side B opens with a truly important historical document: Cowley’s cover of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”. The Moroder-produced disco anthem was a critical influence on Cowley - he would later resculpt the original song into arguably its highest form with his 15-minute-long remix. The instrumental cover version here is sparse and euphoric, brimming with classic Cowley synth signatures alongside the infectious Moroder bassline. A relatively faithful take on Bazuka’s 1975 funk classic “Dynomite” follows. The record closes with the dub version of “Spiked Punch”, which highlights developments in Cowley’s recording and synthesis techniques by way of its resonant burbles and spring reverb-laden passages.