George Clinton has referred to Walter “Junie” Morrison as one of the top musical geniuses of our time, and one listen to Junie’s debut album, “When We Do” we’ll convince you that, once again, George is on the one. Junie hasn’t exactly gone un-recognized in the world of music, but he should probably be more well known given his accomplishments. Our story begins when Walter is involved with the Ohio Player’s earliest and most creative years, his bizarre synthesizer based surprise hit, “Funky Worm”, launched a new modern funk sound that remains influential to today. Later, after Junie left the Players, he helped revitalize Funkadelic and took part in some of their most successful albums. After that, he spent some time as a co-conspirator on many George Clinton recordings. Sometime back in the mid 70s, in between stints with the Players and Funkadelic, Morrison took the time to knock out this very creative art-funk album, one of the best you will find in the genre.
As you can expect, “When We Do”, is reminiscent of early Funkadelic and Ohio Players, but there is also some art rock influence of the David Bowie/Beatles variety, occasional Frank Zappa styled rapid changeups, plus that ambitious studio-derived expansive sound that goes with albums like Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland” and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin On”. Obviously Morrison spent a lot of time on the production as falsetto voices will fade into watery psychedelic drift and orchestral strings mix with psychedelic guitars and a variety of keyboards. The creative orchestral approach of this album can also recall some of Quincy Jones’ best 70s work. It sounds like Junie took a little more time on side one, as it is the more creative side. Side two winds out with a few numbers that are good, but no match for the material the album opened with. Also, side two starts to lean a bit more towards the ballad side of things, but fortunately, Junie’s ballads do come across as heartfelt, not the gratuitous cheeze that mars some RnB albums. Despite the funk and RnB influences, this album isn't really a groove laden dance album, instead, Morrison uses the RnB elements as another part of his personal musical panorama.
This is an excellent diverse funk based album that rates well against other top albums from the funkafied 70s era, and side one in particular contains some of the most creative and original music from that genre's peak years.