George Duke

Dukey Treats (Heads Up)

For the 37th album in his storied 40-plus-year career, George Duke went there: straight for the poop chute. It's not that much of a surprise: Duke has always been down with the double entendre. The 62-year-old keys wizard and Bay Area producer hinted at it with "Dukey Stick," the 1978 R&B hit single for which he suggestively waved a neon phallic wand onstage during his live show. But nothing could have prepared us for the fecal fetish of Dukey Treats, which features the San Rafael native on the cover mischievously holding a box of chocolates, a single chocolate keytar raised in the air.

Not everything on Dukey Treats is total crap. Most of the 12 tracks return Duke — who has worked with Jean-Luc Ponty, Stanley Clarke, Cannonball Adderley, Sonny Rollins, and Anita Baker — to the funky music of the '70s and '80s that made him a platinum-charting artist and sought-after producer. Tunes like the album-opening "Everyday Hero" and "Creepin'" sound like they've been plundered from the vaults of Bootsy Collins or George Clinton. But just as you begin to believe that Dukey Treats is some retro-funk finale to his illustrious recording career, Duke drops into silky-smooth soul with songs like "Listen Baby" and "I Tried to Tell You" to get you in the mood.

Whether it's silly, pseudo-sexy songs, fabulous funk, or strange, spoken-word tracks ("A Fonk Tail"), Dukey Treats is a fun listen. It's also a showcase for the diverse musical talents of George Duke, displaying why legends like Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, and Shuggie Otis thought he was the total shit.

 
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