Amongst all the classic albums that George Duke released throughout his career (of which I’ve probably listened to half), no body of work was more musically diverse, rich and experimental than his 1974 masterpiece Feel.
Experimenting more with synthesizer orchestration, and an acid jazz and rock fusion sound, the album focuses its attention to solo performances, explosive extended moments that capture the genius of George. With the help of the legend Frank Zappa, who appears on ‘Love’ (A2) and ‘Old Slippers’ (B2), George Duke was able to achieve this gorgeous prog-rock sound which has the same vibes and melodies as some of the classic prog-rock albums that came out in the late 60s and early 70s. Throughout this period of time, Duke and Zappa collaborated together on numerous projects, including 17 of Frank Zappa’s studio albums throughout the 70s, and made George’s reputation as a composer more defined, as Zappa was the one who encouraged Duke to use synthesizers in the first place.
“I began experimenting with odd time signatures and various synthesizer textures. This was my first solo record using a synthesizer. Frank Zappa is responsible for my introduction to synthesizers. He told me one day, that I should play synthesizers. It was as simple as that! He bought an ARP 2600 and put it next to my Rhodes. It had all these knobs and looked totally intimidating. I took it home a few times with the manual, but got nowhere. I thought I was back in College studying some abstract foreign language. I finally settled on something simpler. It was an ARP Odyssey. I decided to use an ARP, purely to be different from Jan Hammer, who was playing the Mini Moog, and had a head start on me in the mastery of synthesis” -George Duke
As for the song that captured Madlib’s attention and imagination, it was the slow, melodic groove of the title track ‘Feel’ that was sampled. John Heard was on acoustic and electric bass, Brazilian drummer and percussionist Airto Moreira was on percussion, and of course George Duke on keyboards, vocals and synthesizer bass. Vocally, this track is excellent as well. George never considered to be a singer, but the passion he conveys singing about the feeling of love and life is gorgeous, and is one of Thundercat’s main inspirations as well, as you would probably hear on his 2017 album Drunk.
Listen to George Duke’s ‘Feel’ below:
Madlib uses the sample subtly on ‘MindTouch’ off his Beat Konducta Vol.0 Earth Sounds (2000), released on Stones Throw Records. The sample emphasises on the soft percussion, melody and soul of the track, whilst adding subtle drums to the smooth rhythm of the song. Madlib did it again with this one!
Listen to Madlib’s ‘MindTouch’ below: