Raphael Saadiq said that as a bass-playing kid growing up in Oakland, any band you’d want to play with was going to put you to the test with a specific song. You had to be ready for it because it was going to be sink or swim.
What do you play, bass? Yeah? Ok. Let’s play “Pow.” Count it off drummer, 1, 2, 3…
If you don’t know Larry Graham, he was the iconic funk bass player that gave Sly and the Family Stone their low-end. I’m going to interject this clip of Marcus Miller explaining Graham’s influence to give you a taste before we get to the song
So Larry Graham was basically The Godfather to a whole school of approaching his instrument. And, the reason Saadiq had to know some Graham to audition in a funky Oakland music scene gets obvious when you hear the absolutely audacious, battle-funk that Larry Graham would throw down with his band Graham Central Station.
This song has… a little of everything. Imagine being put on the spot to be tested with playing this. Check out “Pow” and get some Graham in your life.
and watch this too, just to get a sense of the man (the myth, the legend):
Ps. Raphael Saadiq’s interview on Questlove Supreme is halfway done when I’m writing this, but so far it is a pure joy to listen to. He talks about getting a ride home from Jaco as a kid, playing with Prince, Tony! Toni! Toné! and more.