Platypus (1979) S/T (LP) Casablanca 7171

Casablanca 7171
Produced by Platypus

Rating:*** (Noteworthy)

Debut album by this Cincinnati outfit.  A funk disco sound runs through the entire set, but unlike many funk groups of the 70s, this delivered the goods without horns, and in contrast to most disco outfits, this relies much more on a thumping bassline and sometimes rock elements and less on synthesized sounds.

Considering they released this on Casablanca, the Parliament/Funkadelic comparisons were inevitable, and while those comparisons were justified, this has more of a disco sound and also shows influences from fellow Ohio funk outfits the Isley Brothers and Ohio Players, the influence of the Dayton outfit epecially pronounced on “Street Babies,” the influence of the Isley Brothers showing in the absence of a horn section.  The influence of these fellow Cincinnati soul brothers becomes pronounced as “Don’t Go Away” starts out, but the song has its own sound, ends up mixing elements of a rock power ballad with a traditional soul ballad.  While the build up of tension in the power ballad comes out of blues and soul traditions, “Don’t Go Away” clearly sees the influence channeled through the rock tradition.  It’s perhaps not the stand-out cut on the set, but it’s part of several mildly unique elements that makes this album a bit more interesting than most disco funk releases from this era.

This is definitely recommended listening for fans of disco funk, the sound coming out of the 70s and in some ways, clearly headed toward the 80s.  Some of the cuts will also interest others, especially the previously mentioned “Street Babies” and “Don’t Go Away.”  These two songs have little in common, one a hard-funk cut, the other a soul ballad, but both mix rock elements into the sounds.  While they certainly weren’t the only outfit to combine these styles, Platypus sometimes fused these styles to create a sound all their own.  Rock and funk both came out of R&B, but most of the funk outfits that followed Sly Stone’s lead of incorporating rock elements in the soul and funk used horns and lacked the slick polished sound of this outfit.

While this album sold poorly and the band broke up before the release of their second album (Cherry 1980), they managed to leave behind a small legacy with this release.

— winch

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