Michigan’s number one funk exports of the modern-day, Vulfpeck, have released a history lesson in the form of a video chronicling the “Holy Trinities” of rhythm sections that backed up the legendary Aretha Franklin through some of her most famous works.
The first rhythm section comprises of The Swampers, also known as the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, who played on classic Atlantic-era releases like ‘Respect’, ‘Chain of Fools’, and ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’. A shout out is also given to Franklin’s own instrumental contributions by way of her buoyant piano playing, a rarely mentioned major asset to her already formidable musical reputation.
Second up is the unnamed but highly influential rhythm section which includes Vulf collaborator Bernard Purdie on drums, Chuck Rainey on bass, Cornell Dupree on guitar, and Richard Tee on keyboards. This is the band that propelled Franklin through her funkiest recordings like ‘Rock Steady’ but also her most spiritual gospel albums like Amazing Grace. All deference to The Swampers, but this is probably the greatest rhythm section of all time.
Last but not least is the Arista ’80s-era band that featured members of Toto and The Brothers Johnson that kept Franklin’s music grounded in organic musicality amid the mechanical synth-pop of the time. This era often gets overlooked in Frankin’s career, but it contained some of the most legendary musicians of the time.
Like all of Vulf’s output, the video has its own idiosyncratic language and style, but the reverence for both the Queen of Soul and her impeccable backing musicians transcends the quirks of Wolfpack leader Jack Stratton. Vulfpeck just so happens to be the funkiest white boys since The Swampers, so it’s not hard to see where all the admiration comes from.
Vulfpeck themselves released their fifth album, The Joy of Music, The Job of Real Estate last year. The members have kept busy separately as well, with singer/drummer Theo Katzman his third solo album Modern Johnny Sings: Songs in the Age of Vibe in 2020, while unofficially-official member/live and studio guitarist Cory Wong can’t stop putting out music, releasing ten albums in the past year and a half alone, including one with Gulf offshoot The Fearless Flyers.
Check out the Holy Trinity of Rhythm Sections video down below.