Techno-Freqs…Evacuate Your Seats
Acclaimed by George Clinton as “the most phenomenal musician on the planet,” Dayton, Ohio-bred multi-instrumentalist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Walter “Junie” Morrison was the visionary musical director of Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic juggernaut throughout a hot streak of gold and platinum albums during the late ’70s. Junie co-fronted and powered funk classics like “One Nation Under a Groove,” “Aqua Boogie,” and “(Not Just) Knee Deep” with his madcap synthesizer manipulation.
Earlier in the decade, Junie provided a similar boost to the Ohio Players. He was the highly spirited voice of the band and most indelibly made an ARP Soloist wriggle and whine throughout the delightfully oddball “Funky Worm,” which became a frequently sampled ingredient in a multitude of varied rap tracks such as N.W.A’s “Dopeman,” MC Breed’s “Ain’t No Future in Yo’ Frontin’,” Ice Cube’s “Wicked,” and Kriss Kross’ “Jump.”
Junie also recorded as a solo artist for Westbound, Columbia, and ZE Records, performing all instruments on the bulk of his solo work, Prince or Todd Rundgren-style. Morrison’s 1984 techno funk extravaganza Evacuate Your Seats was cut for hip, influential New York indie ZE Records. The album was written, performed, and produced entirely by the musician himself, assisted only by an engineer in each studio where he made it.
Without exception, Junie on record sounds like he’s having a ball, even when he’s singing about deeply serious societal matters, but on Evacuate Your Seats, he’s positively frisky. He seems energized by new possibilities in the combination of programming and sampling with live instrumentation, and he doesn’t curtail his inclination for animated vocals. The results are consequently full of life.
Evacuate Your Seats has been cited as an influence on the burgeoning Detroit Techno scene. Never previously issued on CD anywhere in the world, Evacuate Your Seats has been remastered from new transfers of the original masters by Nick Robbins and expanded with 35 minutes of essential bonus remixes first heard on 12” singles. The simple front/back cover design of the original LP has been expanded into a 16-page booklet designed by Edley ODowd (Psychic TV), with new liner notes by Andy Kellman (All Music Guide).
Junie’s music continues to be widely sampled and covered. A thorough list would be long enough to make anyone’s eyes pop and cross. The best testament to Junie’s legacy, however, is the original material it has inspired. Solange’s “Junie” is a joyous tribute of sorts with a very Junie-like appearance from André 3000 and co-production by fellow disciples Raphael Saadiq and John Carroll Kirby.