New Audio: Re-Introducing 4th Coming’s Futuristic and Breezy, Synth Funk Sound

Founded in 1969 the Los Angeles funk collective 4th Coming was essentially the songwriting and recording project of primary songwriting duo, Henry “Hank” Porter and Jechonias “Jack” S. Williams, who teamed up in the studio with a rotating cast of musicians that included members of Charles Wright and The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band and psych rock cult favorite John Greek, who was probably best known for his time in Reachin’ Arcesia and Beautiful Daze. Before splitting up in 1974, the collective released 8 singles as 4th Coming and one as Impact! that sadly didn’t sell farther than founding member Hank Porter’s Datsun 1200 could take him. In many ways, the Los Angeles-based collective was a commercial failure, and as a result, 4th Coming singles largely disappeared. Coincidentally, 4th Coming’s existence came up when Los Angeles quickly became home of a vibrant funk and soul scene, as Charles Wright and The 103rd Street Watts Rhythm Band and Bill Withers rose to international acclaim — and it makes the collective’s failure to capture public attention both ironic and sad; however, when you consider acts like AM and Shawn Lee, 4th Coming’s sound manages to be both of its time and way ahead of its time.

In the 90s 4th Coming records had resurfaced and the collective was generally regarded as a novelty; in fact, few besides DJ Shadow cared for the breezy synth funk of 4th Coming’s signature single “The Dead Don’t Die Alive.” Sadly, some of their records were so rare that it wasn’t until the end of the last decade that they began to reemerge after the sinking of their initial press runs. Naturally, that made assembling a full set of 4th Coming recordings almost impossible — that is until now.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the great things about the recent proliferation of independent labels is their ability to re-introduce sadly forgotten yet influential artists or sadly forgotten artists that the listening public should have been paying attention to but whose sound may have been ahead of their time, and in the case of Now-Again Records, they’re happily re-introducing 4th Coming through the October 23 release of Strange Things, The Complete Works 1970-1974.

The aforementioned “The Dead Don’t Die Alive” is the first single off Strange Things and it’s a breezy, psych-leaning funk song comprised of layers of futuristic-sounding, shimmering analog synths, guitars and bass through copious amounts of wah wah pedal and the sort of call and response harmonizing that channels Parliament Funkadelic; in fact, much like Parliament Funkadelic, 4th Coming’s sound possesses a cosmic glow while being downright funky — and offering a playful and hopeful view of the future.