Personnel: Charles Earland (soprano saxophone, electric piano, organ, percussion); Charles Earland; Billy Harper (tenor, alto flute, tenor saxophone); William Thorpe (baritone); William Thorpe (baritone saxophone); Richard Gene Williams , Richard Williams (trumpet, flugelhorn); Lee Morgan, Lee Morgan Quintet (trumpet); Larry Killian, Lawrence Killian (congas); Joe Lee Wilson (vocals); Jack Turner (guitar, percussion); Maynard Parker (guitar); Stuart Scharf (acoustic guitar); Hubert Laws (flute, piccolo); Seldon Powell (alto flute, baritone saxophone); Jimmy Vass (soprano saxophone, alto saxophone); Houston Person (tenor saxophone); Jon Faddis, Victor Paz, Joe Shepley (trumpet, flugelhorn); Gary Chandler, Virgil Jones (trumpet); Jack Jeffers (trombone, tuba); Dick Griffin, Garnett Brown (trombone); Darryl Washington (drums, percussion); Jesse Kilpatrick, Billy Cobham (drums); Buddy Caldwell, Sonny Morgan (congas).
Audio Remasterer: Joe Tarantino.
Liner Note Author: Tom Terrell.
Recording information: Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, NJ (05/03/1971-02/14/1973).
Photographer: Tony Lane.
Arranger: Charles Earland.
Although Funk Fantastique is a somewhat thrown-together affair, the music presented on the album represents solid work by organist/keyboardist Charles Earland and company. The material at the center of the album (tracks four through seven) was originally released as Charles III in 1972, and the surrounding tracks are previously unreleased. Since the unreleased material comes from two different sessions, three different ensembles grace Funk Fantastique. The presence of singer Joe Lee Wilson on the dated "Auburn Delight" (think cheesy '70s jazz) offers even more variety. Through it all, though, Earland's funky organ and keyboard brings all the material together under the banner of soul-jazz. Even on an unsuccessful and sexist piece like "Auburn Delight," Earland's organ work has a brisk, spunky quality that makes the instrumental portion of the song sparkle. Much better, however, are "Charles III" and "Girl, You Need a Change of Mind," both supported by large, energetic horn sections. There's also some solid guitar work from Jack Turner on the latter piece. Among the unreleased tracks, there's a fun version of "Never Can Say Goodbye," the old Jackson 5 hit, with nice soprano work by Jimmy Vass. Funk Fantastique never ties up all of its loose ends, but it nonetheless lives up to its title. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.