The Impossibles: Easy to Be Hard b/w
From Hot Pepper (Phillips, 1975)
The Impossibles: Satin Soul
From Stage Show (SSP, 197?)
It’s been over two years since I last posted about the Impossibles but that’s partially because it’s taken over two years for me to finally add another album of theirs to the collection. The Impossibles are pretty much the only Thai funk band that anyone outside of Thailand is familiar with and that’s in large part due to the fact that they toured Europe and the U.S. and released an album on Phillips, recorded in Sweden.
However, more than just being a curiosity of 1970s cross-cultural/musical fusion, the Impossibles also cut some damn good sides. The Hot Pepper album can regularly fetch in the ballpark of $200 and up and I have to say, I think it’s totally worth it in terms of the overall caliber of the album and its inclusions.
The standout is their cover of Kool and the Gang’s “Give It Up”; it’d be the obvious one to post…which is precisely why I’m not posting it (you can find it on Chairman Mao and DJ Muro’s excellent Run For Cover II mix-CD). I’d rather put up two other songs that I find even more intriguing. The first really blew my mind when I started listening; a cover of “Easy to Be Hard,” a song from the Hair but one I associate more with Three Dog Night’s version. It’s clear The Impossibles do too; their cover is riffing off TDN’s but they really funk it up in ways the rock band didn’t – check the reverb on the guitar and the way the horns creep in. When the vocals come in, it just takes you there – so soulful, so melancholy. The ramp up to Tony Bennett-land halfway through is a bit jarring but overall, I find the song exceptionally well-executed in terms of how it builds tension and release and the interplay between the dreaminess of the vocals and the music.
As for “California” it’s a more conventional funk song, opening with a basic breakbeat stomp and then sliding into a groove that wouldn’t be out of place from an Average White Band album. Personally, I’m feeling how this is an ode to California and San Diego, in particular. I can’t figure out if this is a cover or not – it’s not exactly easy to google “California”. My guess is that this is one of the few original songs on the album and based off the group’s experience touring the U.S. California, represent…’sent.
I also pulled another song off the group’s recorded-in-Thailand Stage Show LP. This is a cover of the Barry White production, “Satin Soul” (originally a Love Unlimited Orchestra tune). Once again, a strong breakbeat opener that then slides into some screechy guitar and a heavily vamped up organ that deliver the song’s signature riff. Because this was apparently recorded live, the audio quality could stand to be better but overall, I think this bumps quite nicely.
[…] had written earlier about one of the best known Thai bands to get with the funky funk: the Impossibles. However, their best album was recorded for Phillips – most of the labels that housed the […]
[…] also covered – as it were – by another “Asian diasporic band,” the Impossibles. […]