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George Duke: Dukey Treats

George Duke (photo: Bobby Holland)

If you thought George Duke’s trad-jazz In a Mellow Tone was the best thing he’s ever done, Dukey Treats probably isn’t your thing. But if you smile every time Duke’s “Sweet Baby” comes on the radio and shake your skunk rump when Sir Duke launches into “Dukey Stick” at a show, this is your thang. It’s old-school all the way, from the Sly Stone slap-bass funk of “Everyday Hero” and the nod to Parliament-Funkadelic with “A Fonk Tail,” where Duke vamps a synth-distorted Darth Vader-like rap that leads into the boastful come-ons of “Dukey Treats,” à la “Dukey Stick” from way back.

It’s not all funk, bro. “Listen Baby” is a time-capsule R&B ballad straight from the ’70s showcasing Duke’s falsetto, and “Right on Time” matches it in style but with Rachelle Ferrell’s sweet soul matching Duke’s for intensity. “Are You Ready” is an obvious shout-out to Earth, Wind & Fire with Everette Harp, Dan Higgins, Michael “Patches” Stewart and Reggie Young on horns, Sheila E. on percussion and Duke even referencing EWF in the lyrics. Finally, Duke pushes a Marvin Gaye-like message with the socially conscious “Sudan (It’s a Crying Shame)” with Duke, Jonathan Butler and Teena Marie taking turns on lead vocals. Duke ends the CD with “Images of Us,” an instrumental romp that recalls the frantic best of bygone classic fusion.

Originally Published