In the mid-1960's, bassist Raymond Earl met drummer Scotty Miller while in school and formed the duo The Music Machine. In 1968, they began backing local vocal group
the TNJ's, appearing at local dances and venues building up a good reputation. Around 1971, the group's manager Jackie Ellis christened the backup band Instant Funk
because they could come up with funky grooves instantaneously. In 1973, Scotty's younger brother, guitarist Kim Miller, joined the duo. After hours and hours of playing
together, the trio found that they clicked; they became so intuitively "tuned" into each other that they could anticipate and accent each other's playing.
Philly soul artist/producer/songwriter Bunny Sigler was invited by Ellis to see Instant Funk and the TNJ's perform. Sometime during the show, Sigler was called on stage
to perform. He was impressed that the band knew "Sunshine," a song he co-wrote with Phil Hurtt that was made popular by The O'Jays. Soon after that they began backing
Sigler, The Manhattans, and various other R&B acts. As a staff songwriter/producer at Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International Records, Sigler began using Instant Funk on
his sessions along with the TNJ's. At those sessions, Sigler would record the basic track with Earl and the Miller brothers. Sigler, a brimming fountain of ideas, would often
stop the band mid-song to implement one of his flashes of brilliance. They backed Sigler on three of his Philadelphia International Records albums: "That's How Long I'll Be
Loving You," "Keep Smilin'" and "My Music." When the band expanded to include keyboardist Dennis Richardson; lead singer James Carmichael; horn players Larry Davis,
Eric Huff, and Johnny Onderlinde, and percussionist Charles Williams, Sigler got them signed to a deal with CBS. Instant Funk released a single on Philadelphia International
Records TSOP imprint, "Float Like A Butterfly," and an album, "Get Down With The Philly Jump," issued in November 1976, the title track and "It Aint Reggae (But It Sho
Is Funky)" were popular in the clubs, despite their lack of chart success.
During the early to mid 1970's Instant Funk was one of the most prolific and hardest working bands. During that decade, before their own success, they could be heard
on albums and hits by such artists as: The O'Jay's, M.F.S.B., Jean Carne, Dexter Wansel and The Three Degrees. And those were just for label-mates. They also backed T.
Life, Evelyn "Champagne" King, Archie Bell & The Drells, The Pips (minus Gladys Knight), Gabor Szabo, Carl Carlton and countless others.
In 1977, guitarist Norman Harris started his own label, Gold Mind Records, distributed by New York-based Salsoul Records. Sigler signed on as a recording artist as well.
He and the band were constantly in the studio recording ideas and songs. One track, "Let Me Party With You," co-written by the Miller brothers, Earl, and Sigler, went to #-
8 R&B in January 1978. His first album, "Let Me Party With You," was a club hit, and included the follow-up single, the funky Sam Peake's sax-drenched ballad "I Got What
You Need," "Don't Even Try," and the disco hit "Your Love Is So Good."
While brainstorming in the studio, Sigler and Instant Funk came up with "I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl)." Sigler did overdubs on the track at Philadelphia-area studios, Alpha International and Sigma Sound
Studios, before taking it to Bob Blank's Blank Tapes in New York. When the track was done, Sigler shopped it around to the record labels, but to no avail. Finally Sigler signed them to his own Gold Mind label, but by the
time their single "I Got My Mind Made Up" was released, Gold Mind had folded and all of its acts were transferred to Salsoul. Fireworks exploded when Salsoul released "I Got My Mind Made Up." Swirling, screaming horns
announce the chorus; hand claps, tambourines and a maniacal rhythm guitar battle the heavy bottom; a woman delivers erotic lines for added impact. Salsoul followed the #20 pop and #1 (for three weeks) R&B hit with
"Crying," a race horse whose relentless beat only subsides near the fade; Carmichael's vocal is passionate, almost deranged. Their second album, "Instant Funk," issued January 1979, went gold hitting #-1 R&B in the spring
For Instant Funk, switching labels didn't mean switching producers. They worked with Bunny Sigler at TSOP and continued to work with him at Salsoul. Sigler was the ideal producer for Instant Funk because he really
understood what the band was going for: an unorthodox blend of Philly soul/disco and the type of hardcore funk that other cities were better known for. Sigler is a major asset on "Witch Doctor," which was Instant Funk's
second album for Salsoul and its third album overall. From the sweaty funk of "Bodyshine" (a major hit), "Slap, Slap Lickedy Lap," and "Witch Doctor" to the smooth ballad "I Had A Dream," Instant Funk delivered in all
On their third Salsoul album, "The Funk Is On," Instant Funk shows an acute pop music sensibility. But funk fans need not worry, this album lives up to its title; the band still funks. The title track single, written by Brass
Construction's Randy Muller, is pure, unadulterated funk. The same could be said for the gritty "You Want My Love." The second single, "Everybody," has a serious bounce groove. The Larry Levan 12" extended remix
clocked in at 8:47 and features Jack Faith's dynamic arrangement and James Carmichael's arousing guttural groans towards the track's climax. The funny, plucky "Funk-n-Roll" has yodels. The snappy "It's Cool" is a skater's
favorite and shows off some deft guitar and bass. The third single was the sweet, simmering ballad "What Can I Do For You" that should have given the band its first hit ballad. Producer Sigler shows the band's lighter side
on the melodic, swing jazz-flavored "Can You See Where I'm Coming From" and the upbeat "You're Not Getting Older." A tasty and throughly enjoying offering from the funk masters.
On their fourth Salsoul album, "Looks So Fine," Instant Funk showcases their precise, step-lock rhythm on the first single, "Why Don't You Think About Me," remixed by top talent Francois Kevorkian. The Philly soul
band backs a number of guest singers. The sister trio Direct Current sings soaring vocals on the seriously funky title track. Other standouts are the skater's favorite "Gotta Like That," The O'Jays-like ballad "Smack Dab In
The Middle," which is a duet between producer Bunny Sigler and the band's lead singer James Carmichael; and the NBA tribute "Slam Dunk The Funk." Although a well crafted album, their particular brand of funk was
falling out of favor by the March 1982 release of this album and it's sales reflected it.
By January 1983 the group was now reduced to a quintet, Instant Funk was now Scotty Miller (drums, background vocals), Kim Miller (guitar, background vocals), Raymond Earl (bass, background vocals), Dennis Richardson
(keyboards, background vocals), and James Carmichael (lead vocals); five additional rhythm players, a five-piece horn section, and additional backing vocalists augment the band. For the their release "Instant Funk V" Tom
Moulton mixed two bouncers: "No Stoppin' That Rockin'," a groovy techno funk piece, and "Who Took Away The Funk," a low groove with P-Funk-style vocals. A remake of "A Hard Day's Night" features punchy horns,
choppy rhythms, rock guitar, and energetic vocals. This uneven offering failed to garner any attention except of the two Tom Moulton mixed tracks and quickly disappeared from the shelves.
Instant Funk's final Salsoul album, "Kinky," found them reunited with the TNJ's vocal group, who were prominently heard on producer/singer Bunny Sigler's slow cover of The O'Jays' classic, "Love Train." The lead vocal
spot was given to TNJ's member/founder Elijah "E.J." Jones. His smooth tenor seemed to fit in with the group's sound. The first single, "(Just Because) You'll Be Mine," was remixed by Shep Pettibone and was a huge
dance club hit, it sounded similar to their 1979 gold single "I Got My Mind Made Up." Other standouts were the sexy slow jams "Passion" and "Keep It Up," the two hip-hop flavored cuts "Let's Make Love" and "The
Funkiest Party In The World," and the popular album track "Don't Call Me Brother," a remake of an O'Jays LP track from their "Ship Ahoy" album. This album would have put them back on top had it had the proper
promotion and support, as is, it's a fine ending to a nice run for a premier funk band.
When the Cayre brothers, owners of Salsoul Records, decided to fold the label in 1984, in an effort to concentrate on the then-emerging home video market, Instant Funk was without a record label. The band toured for
a few years then disbanded. Some of the members are still in the music business in one form or another today. Raymond Earl is operating his own studio and production company, Ray Ray Productions. Kim Miller, Dennis
Richardson, and James Carmichael are into the gospel music scene and Bunny Sigler is now touring the world as a member of The Trammps.