What It Is: Funky Soul & Rare Grooves

What It Is: Funky Soul & Rare Grooves

4.2 4

Housed in a 45-sized box of hand-assembled chipboard (if you don't get the implication of this musty '60 packaging material, this set is not designed for you), this four disc, 91-track tour through the freaky underside of black pop is simply a collector's dream. Arranged chronologically from 1967 (the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band's "Spreadin' Honey") to 1977 (P-Funk… See more details below


Housed in a 45-sized box of hand-assembled chipboard (if you don't get the implication of this musty '60 packaging material, this set is not designed for you), this four disc, 91-track tour through the freaky underside of black pop is simply a collector's dream. Arranged chronologically from 1967 (the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band's "Spreadin' Honey") to 1977 (P-Funk alum Eddie Hazel's damaged rendition of "California Dreamin'), the box is a self-conscious exploration of also-rans. It's an alternative history, told from the ground up, of the often repeated metamorphosis of rhythm & blues to soul to funk and disco. As soul scholar Oliver Wang sees it in his liner notes (just part of a photo- and typography-rich 82-page book), this is the sound of hundreds of struggling acts on flimsy labels, aiming for a gig on the chitlin'circuit or a few minutes of AM radio. As such, it's nearly impossible to argue with the rarities and obscurities within; only a scrooge of a collector would fault the alternate takes (including Aretha Franklin's "Rock Steady") or other possible inclusions. The remastering is a dream, without a trace of the accumulated mold or coffee grounds that must have been unearthed with the tracks' discovery. The sequencing, too, is a joy, just made for a long car trip or, of course, a house party -- rife with instrumentals, funky breaks, call-and-response shouters, and novelties (see "Pig Snoots, Pt. 1"). The set's overarching theme holds up, showing how all the usually cited social pressures (civil rights, urban poverty, and black militancy) were but one facet of the move from R&B toward the harder, darker, and deeper sound of funk. Fuzzed-guitars show up by 1969 with the Southshore Commission's "Right On, Pt. 1"), and tempos slow noticeably in the wake of Sly Stone's 1971 There's a Riot Goin' On. Funk was also a response to the marketplace and the constant competition among smaller labels to provide party music and maybe a regional hit. By 1972, even Little Richard was in on the act. Another winner from the team at Rhino, this box offers hours of soul-catalyzing enjoyment, suitable for beginners but especially geared to that most disdainful music snob you love.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Andy Kellman
A righteous undertaking of great magnitude, What It Is! Funky Soul and Rare Grooves trawls through a decade-long stretch of the Warner-distributed archive -- taking in the catalogs of Warner Bros., Atlantic, Reprise, Atco, and smaller nodes like Cotillion, Curtom, Alston, and Jonie -- and pulls up 80 soul/funk truffles, almost all of which were left for dead shortly after release. While many of these cuts have been repurposed as vital ingredients of hip-hop tracks, which has in turn fostered a voracious collector's market (it would cost a fortune to collect these songs in their original formats of release), the box is a leagues-deep trawl through an otherwise forgotten past. There are few well-known names on these four discs, but even they tend to be represented by selections that are not obvious. Curtis Mayfield's "(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below We're All Going to Go" is likely the best-known inclusion, and after a substantial number of cuts that can't be considered truly rare, there's a sudden drop into (sweet, sweet) oblivion -- unless you're of the small minority whose spines tingle at the sight of names like Grassella Oliphant and Rasputin's Stash. The chicken-scratch guitars, wild Hammond B-3 runs, group chants, and blaring horn punches are served by the dozens, but the box also illustrates an evolution that took place through the '70s. Since the sequencing is, for the most part, chronological, those changes are all the more perceptible. Funk Factory's "Rien Ne Va Plus" and Faze-O's "Riding High" churn and float slowly, steeped in synthesizers, electric pianos, and studio effects, while legions of artists have attempted to replicate the sound and spirit of Stanga's "Little Sister" and 6ix's "I'm Just Like You" -- two songs graced by the hands of Sly Stone in tripped-out, otherworldly There's a Riot Goin' On mode. It's not one big party, either. Check Baby Huey & the Baby Sitters' harrowing "Hard Times" (written and produced by Mayfield), where the poor and paranoid protagonist subsists on Spam and Oreos and keeps his curtains drawn so he won't see those who peer in on him. The themed playlists and imaginary compilations hiding within this compact box are innumerable, bound to take the average overthinking funk freak to new levels of nerd-dom. There are region-specific sets to be made, as well as sets with possible titles like Latin Funk and Flute Funk and The Early Arrangement and Production Work of the Late Arif Mardin, in addition to a remarkable batch of covers, a tight collection of instrumentals, and a not-very-exclusive list of tracks that have been sampled throughout the years. The accompanying booklet could be sold separately, as it contains scads of seldom-seen photos and scholarly track-by-track notes. Rhino also deserves applause for resisting the urge to house these discs in a massive synthetic afro or an oversized wah-wah pedal. You can snugly tuck this thing between your arm and chest and sense its power run through your whole body. Bring on a second set that extends past the disco era and involves the likes of Slave, Mass Production, Brides of Funkenstein, and Dinosaur.
Rolling Stone - David Fricke
What it is: nonstop late-Sixties-and-Seventies party time from the deep recesses of these major-label catalogs.
Los Angeles Daily News
Rhino's latest compilation box is certainly one of its greatest.

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Product Details

Release Date:

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Disc 1

  1. Spreadin' Honey  -  Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band
  2. Soul Finger  -  Bar-Kays
  3. The Shadow of Your Smile  - Jack McDuff
  4. Gangster of Love, Pts. 1 & 2  - Jimmy Norman
  5. The Memphis Train  - Rufus Thomas
  6. Get out of My Life Woman  - Grassella Oliphant
  7. Live Right Now  - Eddie Harris
  8. Pig Snoots, Pt. 1  -  Natural Bridge Bunch
  9. Soul Sound System  -  Freedom Sounds
  10. Snatching It Back  - Clarence Carter
  11. Stoned Soul  - Artie Christophher
  12. Getting the Corners  -  TSU Tornadoes
  13. Sexy Coffee Pot  -  Tony Alvon & The Belairs
  14. Don't Come Around Here Anymore  -  Mark Putney
  15. Keep on Dancing  -  Commodores
  16. Right on Brother, Pt. 1  -  South Shore Commission
  17. Pop, Popcorn Children  - Eldridge Holmes
  18. It's Your Thing  -  Cold Grits
  19. It's All in Your Mind  -  Soul Angels
  20. Funky John  -  Johnny Cameron & the Camerons
  21. Help Me Make Up My Mind  - Joyce Jones
  22. Rock Me Baby  - Lou Johnson
  23. Sing a Simple Song  -  Noble Knights
  24. Do You Dig It  - Titus Turner
  25. Funky Canyon  - Phil Moore
  26. Jan Jan  -  Fabulous Counts
  27. Tampin  -  Rhine Oaks

Disc 2

  1. Gossip  - Cyril Neville
  2. Somebody in the World for You  - Mighty Hannibal
  3. Stanga  -  Little Sister
  4. Jumpin' Jack Flash  - Ananda Shankar
  5. The Deacon  -  Brute Force
  6. Sookie Sookie  -  Don Covay & The Jefferson Lemon Blues Band
  7. Right On  -  Clarence Wheeler & the Enforcers
  8. (Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below We're All Going to Go  - Curtis Mayfield
  9. Stepping Stones  - Johnny Harris
  10. I'm Just Like You  -  Gix
  11. Funky Thing, Pt. 1  -  Unemployed
  12. Messie Bessie  - Shirley Scott
  13. Fairchild  - Willie West
  14. Cold Bear  -  Gaturs
  15. I Can't Get Next to You  - Mongo Santamaría
  16. Feelin' Alright  -  Lulu
  17. Soul Bowel  -  Memphis Horns
  18. Tuane  -  Hammer
  19. Take It off, Pt. 2  -  Johnny Tolbert & De Thangs
  20. Seeds of Life  -  Harlem River Drive
  21. Engine Number 9  - Wilson Pickett

Disc 3

  1. Hard Times  -  Baby Huey & the Baby Sitters
  2. What So Never the Dance, Pts. 1 & 2  -  Houseguests
  3. Headless Heroes  - Eugene McDaniels
  4. Spinning Wheel  - Wade Marcus
  5. Bad Tune  -  Earth, Wind & Fire
  6. Mr. Cool  -  Rasputin's Stash
  7. Don't Cha Hear Me Callin' to Ya  - Junior Mance
  8. Hang on in There  -  Stovall Sisters
  9. Funky Nassau, Pt. 2  -  Beginning of the End
  10. Whatever's Fair  -  Mark Holder & the Positives
  11. Face It  - Ed Robinson
  12. Wah Wah Man  -  Young-Holt Unlimited
  13. Rock Steady  - Aretha Franklin
  14. Won't Nobody Listen  -  Black Haze Express
  15. Goin' Down  - Allen Toussaint
  16. Suavecito  -  Malo
  17. You Gotta Know Whatcha Doin'  - Charles Wright
  18. Mo Jo Hanna  - Teri Lynn
  19. Ridin' Thumb  - King Curtis
  20. Almendra  -  Macondo
  21. Nuki Suki  - Little Richard

Disc 4

  1. Getting Uptown (To Get Down)  - United B
  2. 8 Days on the Road  - Howard Tate
  3. Moon Shadow  -  Labelle
  4. Let It Crawl  -  Society's Bag
  5. Wanaoh  -  Black Heat
  6. If It Was Good Enough for Daddy  - Clarence Reid
  7. Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky  - Claudia Lennear
  8. Cosmic Sea  -  Mystic Moods Orchestra
  9. Kissing My Love  -  Cold Blood
  10. Flute Thing  -  Seatrain
  11. Chug Chug Chug-A-Lug (Push N' Shove), Pt. 2  -  Meters
  12. Funky to the Bone  -  Freddi & Henchi & the Soulsetters
  13. Try It Again  - Bobby Byrd
  14. Teasin'  - Cornell Dupree
  15. (Everybody Wanna Get Rich) Rite Away  - Mac Rebennack
  16. Chicken Heads  - Oscar Brown
  17. Rien Ne Va Plus  -  Funk Factory
  18. Cajun Moon  - Herbie Mann
  19. Improve  - Darrow Fletcher
  20. Riding High  -  Faze-O
  21. Four Play  -  Fred Wesley & the Horny Horns
  22. California Dreamin'  - Eddie Hazel

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Richard Evans   Vocals
Johnny Harris   Conductor
Wade Marcus   Conductor
Cissy Houston   Vocals
Paul Lewinson   Moog Synthesizer

Technical Credits

Mason Williams   Producer
Jerry Butler   Producer
J.J. Cale   Composer
Steve Cropper   Composer,Producer
Earth, Wind & Fire   Arranger
Aretha Franklin   Composer
Mick Jagger   Composer
Kooper   Composer
Curtis Mayfield   Composer,Producer
Ohio Players   Arranger
Yusuf (Cat Stevens)   Composer
Rufus Thomas   Composer
Titus Turner   Composer
Maurice White   Composer
Bill Withers   Composer
Eddie Harris   Composer
Herbie Mann   Producer
Shirley Scott   Composer
Chuck Rainey   Horn Arrangements
Michal Urbaniak   Producer
Richard Evans   Arranger,String Arrangements
Steve Alaimo   Producer
Delaney Bramlett   Composer
David Clayton-Thomas   Composer
Don Covay   Arranger,Composer,Producer
Wade Flemons   Composer
Johnny Harris   Arranger,Producer
Gene Page   Composer
Michelle Phillips   Composer
Bobby Rush   Composer
Oliver Sain   Composer
Barrett Strong   Composer
William Truckaway   Producer
Jerry Williams   Producer
Charles Wright   Arranger,Producer
Wade Marcus   Arranger
Joyce Jones   Composer
George Jackson   Composer
C.J. Johnson   Producer
Marty Sheller   Arranger
Bobby Byrd   Composer,Producer
Jack Adams   Producer
Michael Adams   Composer
Howard Albert   Arranger,Producer,Horn Arrangements
Ron Albert   Arranger,Producer,Horn Arrangements
Kenny Ascher   Arranger
Richard Bean   Composer
Ed Bland   Arranger
Bootsy Collins   Arranger,Producer,Composer
Ronnie Caldwell   Composer
Johnny Cameron   Composer
Calvin Carter   Composer
Carter   Producer
Alvin Cash   Composer
Ben Cauley   Composer
George Clinton   Producer
Phelps "Catfish" Collins   Composer
Michael Cuscuna   Producer
Mose Davis   Composer
Joel Dorn   Producer
Jimmy Douglass   Producer
Tom Dowd   Producer
Kenny Gamble   Composer
Ira Gates   Composer
Michael Gayle   Composer
Glen Goins   Composer
Jerry Greenberg   Producer
Rick Hall   Producer
Riley Hampton   Arranger
Len Ron Hanks   Composer
Keith Harrison   Composer
Max Haskett   Brass Arrangment
Alex Hassilev   Producer
Mark Holder   Composer,Producer
Leon Huff   Composer
Bill Inglot   Producer,Remastering
O'Kelly Isley   Composer
Ronald Isley   Composer
Rudolph Isley   Composer
Wayne Jackson   Composer,Producer
Erik Jacobsen   Producer
Phalon Jones   Composer
Bernard Kafka   Composer,Vocal Arrangements
Stan Kessler   Producer
B.B. King   Composer
Norman Landsberg   Composer
Paul Lewinson   Arranger
Andre Lewis   Arranger
Mike Lewis   Horn Arrangements,String Arrangements
Andrew Love   Composer,Producer
Johnny Mandel   Composer
Arif Mardin   Producer
Eugene McDaniels   Composer
Jack McDuff   Arranger
Mark Meyerson   Producer
Ziggy Modeliste   Composer
Buell Neidlinger   Producer
Earl Nelson   Composer
Leo Nocentelli   Composer
Eddie Palmieri   Arranger,Composer,Producer
Roger Parker   Composer
Leon Pendarvis   Arranger
Wardell Quezergue   Arranger,Composer,Producer
Jerry Ragovoy   Composer,Producer
John Rayford   Arranger
Pat Rebillot   Arranger
Bonny "Mack" Rice   Composer
Keith Richards   Composer
David Rubinson   Producer
Ian Samwell   Producer
Daniel Secunda   Producer
Brad Shapiro   Producer
Charles Simmons   Composer
David Spinozza   Arranger,Horn Arrangements
Sylvester "Sly Stone" Stewart   Composer,Producer
Pablo Tellez   Arranger,Composer
Bob Todd   Composer,Producer
Allen Toussaint   Arranger,Composer,Producer
Frankie "Kash" Waddy   Composer
Paul Francis Webster   Composer
Jerry Wexler   Producer
Norman Whitfield   Composer
Vicki Wickham   Producer
Hal Winn   Producer
Joseph Wissert   Producer
Dennis King   Producer
Dr. John   Composer
Johnny Brantley   Producer
Eldridge Holmes   Composer
Rudy Stevenson   Composer
James Alexander   Composer
Abel Zarate   Arranger,Composer
Dave Crawford   Producer
Ralph "Love" Aikens   Composer
Tyrone "Flye" Crum   Composer
Zane Grey   Composer
Mighty Hannibal   Producer
Clarence Reid   Composer
Clarence "Satch" Satchell   Composer
Jim Seals   Composer
Don Whitehead   Composer
Bobby Robinson   Producer
Reggie Collins   Discographical Annotation
Clayton Gunnels   Composer
Sidney Pinchback   Composer,Producer
Gary Slabo   Arranger
Tom Wells   Composer,Producer
South Shore Commission   Arranger
Joe Josea   Composer
Curtis Ousley   Composer,Producer
Lockie Edwards   Producer
Danny McGinnis   Producer
Walter Scott   Composer
Joe Webb   Composer
Joseph Broussard   Composer
Tyrone Fitzgerald   Composer
Wilson Turbinton   Composer
Abelardo Valdés   Composer
Jerry Winn   Composer
Desmond Wray   Composer
Richard Wylie   Producer
Alan Gardner   Producer
David Robinson   Producer
Willie Clarke   Producer
Donald Height   Composer,Producer
James Carmichael   Arranger
Masaki Koike   Art Direction
Matt Abels   Producer
Nathaniel Nathan   Composer
Edward Langford   Producer
Robert "Chopper" McCullough   Composer
Bill Hemmons   Composer
Fred E. Smith   Producer
Johnny Stiles   Composer
Clinton Moon   Producer
Robert Nelson Relf   Composer
Hadley Murrell   Producer
J. Cameron   Arranger,Producer
Oliver Wang   Liner Notes
Ron Bufort   Arranger
Frazier   Producer
J.C. Moore   Producer
Andy Pappas   Arranger,Producer
Richard Pegue   Composer,Producer
Tommy Smalls   Producer
Virtue Stiles   Arranger,Producer
Daniel Hersch   Remastering

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