After recording the backing music for readings by William Burroughs on Spare Ass Annie and Other Stories, DHOH called it a day and Franti teamed up with colleague Carl Young in a new project he called Spearhead.
Eschewing political leanings for a Funk and Soul soundtrack, Spearhead signed with Capitol and released two well-received albums, 1994’s Home and 1997’s Reggae-flecked Chocolate Supa Highway. A split with the label, which owned the Spearhead name, forced Franti to attach his own name to the band to avoid legal issues.
Franti returned to a more militant political stance on subsequent MF&S albums — 2000’s anti-death penalty/prison reform tome Stay Human, 2003’s eclectic Rock/Funk sonic stew Everyone Deserves Music, 2006’s incendiary Yell Fire! and 2008’s Jamaica-recorded All Rebel Rockers — voicing strong opinions on the human and economic cost of war (especially with his 2006 film, I Know I’m Not Alone), social injustice and environmental issues.
MF&S dropped their latest set, The Sound of Sunshine, less than a month ago, mixing Reggae and Hip Hop rhythms with a Funk/Soul foundation, a Rock/Folk undercurrent and a slight leavening of Franti’s political rhetoric. But with mid-term elections looming and conservatives in a Tea Party state of mind, don’t be surprised if Michael Franti & Spearhead bring the Funk, noise and politics back to the forefront on their current tour.
Michael Franti & Spearhead play Madison Theater Friday. Go here for tickets and venue details.