Ames Harris Desert Water Bag Co.

By 1971, YoDi had grown to a 40-piece ensemble fissioned to form a new pair of distinct bands: Ames Harris Desert Water Bag Company (mentored by Tyler Ludy and named after Ludy’s former employer) and the Michael Merry-schooled F.U.N. (“Funky United Niggers” for anyone keeping score). These expansions drew in new federal dollars that paid for fresh studio hours and that would bring new YoDi product to anyone paying attention. On “People,” Dauphin Williams delivers the story of East St. Louis in one line: “Garbage cans laying out all over the streets, brother shooting brother, window panes broken, torn up cars on the sidewalk, won’t nobody clean it up….” It was the grim reality of their every day existence set to an infectious funk slink, making the bruised pop-soul of “Checking Myself” seem like so much miscellany in comparison. Heavier than a busted refrigerator on a front porch, sharper than glass on a playground, “People” was a finely crafted last nail in YoDi’s coffin, though it would not be the label’s last gasp.

Ames Harris Desert Water Bag Co. Appears on: