Pretty Purdie: Funky Donkey/Caravan (Date 2-1568, 1967)

Disclaimer:  before stumbling across this record, I had no idea who Bernard “Pretty” Purdie is.  Shame on me.

DJ Gunga's copy of Funky Donkey by Pretty Purdie.
Funky Donkey – 1967 U.S. Release

Why did I buy this record?  Not because I like records titled “Funky [insert animal name here]”.  Because “Funky Horse” is awful.  First off, without doing any deconstructing, this record is fun with a “K”.  Purdie keeps a slow, easy beat best described as “ambling”.  Do not let the go-go tempo fool you.  Purdie is working these drums.  “Funky Donkey” could also be characterized as easy, sleazly funk.  Minus the sleazy part.  Purdie is way too polished and professional for the sleazy part.

Eh, scrap the whole deconstruction thing I usually do with a record.  No analysis today; you can go somewhere else and learn about the Purdie Shuffle.  Just listen to the track.  Dance to it.  Do your own Dap Walk to it (why have I not written about that one yet?)  Smile as every now and then Purdie interjects some cool late 1960s jargon.

And then spend some time with the B-side, “Caravan”.  It has to be the most… interesting version of the Ellington classic ever put to vinyl.  Except perhaps for the Bobby Christian version (another one I have  yet to cover).  Purdie assaults his drums in a manner that would be criminal if drums were recognized as sentient beings.  The song needed drum breaks anyways.

I have a daydream about how Purdie’s take on “Caravan” came about:  Purdie found himself in a conversation with some pretentious British kid who was boasting in a manner most cocky that Ginger Baker or Keith Moon is the best.  Drummer.  Ever.  In response, Purdie strolls to his drum kit and spends two minutes spanking the self-delusional fool like a snare drum.

Just a little dream there, as the man who I now know to be responsible for the rhythm of my childhood gets his due.  Thank you, Bernard Purdie.  I bow to you as the master of the beat.

Oh, and just to demonstrate that the folks of that time had better taste than we do today, this record actually charted.  Only made it to 87, but it charted nonetheless.  Bravo, 1967.  Bravo.

Read what this person has to say about “Funky Donkey”. And this person.


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