YUSEF LATEEF — Autophysiopsychic (review)

YUSEF LATEEF — Autophysiopsychic album cover Album · 1977 · RnB Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Sean Trane
By the later half of the 70’s, most 50’s and 60’s jazz artistes that wanted to survive had to go commercial and do albums that were into soul-jazz or jazz-funk, and one had to wonder how willingly they did so. Certainly YL’s APP was a border case, despite Yusef writing four of the five tracks on the present album, the last one being by producer Matthews – probably an arrangement between him and YL, because of the heavy arrangements on that track and others on the album. This could’ve also been a CTI album (actually it is one, but via the Epic label), as it was produced by Creed Taylor and Eric Gale plays guitar, but don’t expect the soft jazz fusion of the earlier CTI albums: we’re rather dealing with a solid funk album, but the main solo instrument is Art Farmer’s flugelhorn - he gets a special mention on the album’s sleeve. This writer is not particularly familiar with the other musicians on the album, but one would assume that they’re pure funk people: certain bassist Gary King and drummer Madison (the CD booklet surprisingly also mentions Steve Gadd) sound like it’s their main background.

Recorded at Hendrix’ old studio Electric Lady in October 77, the album is definitely more of a funk album with slight jazz overtones - mostly the wind instruments (Yussef’s sax and flute and Farmer’s horns) - and there are plenty of vocals (mainly Yussef’s, apparently. To be honest, while this album may attract your curiosity through a promise of adventurous musical escapades, I find it very repetitive (and weak in terms of lyrics) and relatively shallow; but then again leter-70’s funk albums with an eye onto the disco scene tend to be that way. Does this mean that this is a bad album? Most likely, this is an excellent pure funk album, but if you’re expecting the usual YL albums, you could be in for a solid disappointment. The relatively lengthy songs are just straightforward funk with little deviance from the groove installed and boring lyrics repeated endlessly (“say in touch with your mind” ) and only the (very good) quality of the wind instrument solos to really present interest. Only the YL song present more interest (IMHO, of course) with its slightly different sonics (the arrangements), but even then, it remains very funky.

The album’s title is reminiscent of his Psychicemotus he’d recorded for the Impulse label back in 65, but there aren’t any sonic links between the two. Given YL’s prolific discography and the wide sonic variety he indulged in, this APP release might just be one of his most WTF release, and you might want to approach it carefully, despite the luscious 70’s sounds and production values. Clearly looking for a direction he would feel comfortable with, this was to be the second last album he’d release for a few years, the next one coming in the mid-80’s.
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