What It Is: Funky Soul & Rare Grooves

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Mark Schwartz
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 ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Mark Schwartz
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.
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.

What it is: nonstop late-Sixties-and-Seventies party time from the deep recesses of these major-label catalogs.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/3/2006
  • Label: Rhino
  • UPC: 081227763527
  • Catalog Number: 77635
  • Sales rank: 28,507


Disc 1
  1. 1 Spreadin' Honey - The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band (2:25)
  2. 2 Soul Finger - Bar-Kays (2:21)
  3. 3 The Shadow of Your Smile - Jack McDuff (3:55)
  4. 4 Gangster of Love, Pts. 1 & 2 - Jimmy Norman (4:10)
  5. 5 The Memphis Train - Rufus Thomas (2:33)
  6. 6 Get out of My Life Woman - Grassella Oliphant (2:44)
  7. 7 Live Right Now - Eddie Harris (2:49)
  8. 8 Pig Snoots, Pt. 1 - Natural Bridge Bunch (2:36)
  9. 9 Soul Sound System - Freedom Sounds (5:34)
  10. 10 Snatching It Back - Clarence Carter (2:41)
  11. 11 Stoned Soul - Artie Christophher (1:56)
  12. 12 Getting the Corners - TSU Tornadoes (2:27)
  13. 13 Sexy Coffee Pot - Tony Alvon & The Belairs (2:28)
  14. 14 Don't Come Around Here Anymore - Mark Putney (2:44)
  15. 15 Keep on Dancing - The Commodores (2:39)
  16. 16 Right on Brother, Pt. 1 - South Shore Commission (2:40)
  17. 17 Pop, Popcorn Children - Eldridge Holmes (2:53)
  18. 18 It's Your Thing - Cold Grits (2:52)
  19. 19 It's All in Your Mind - Soul Angels (2:49)
  20. 20 Funky John - Johnny Cameron & the Camerons (2:48)
  21. 21 Help Me Make Up My Mind - Joyce Jones (2:45)
  22. 22 Rock Me Baby - Lou Johnson (2:15)
  23. 23 Sing a Simple Song - Noble Knights (2:57)
  24. 24 Do You Dig It - Titus Turner (2:13)
  25. 25 Funky Canyon - Phil Moore Jr. (2:38)
  26. 26 Jan Jan - Fabulous Counts (2:17)
  27. 27 Tampin - The Rhine Oaks (3:02)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Gossip - Cyril Neville (2:38)
  2. 2 Somebody in the World for You - The Mighty Hannibal (2:55)
  3. 3 Stanga - Little Sister (3:42)
  4. 4 Jumpin' Jack Flash - Ananda Shankar (3:40)
  5. 5 The Deacon - Brute Force (4:32)
  6. 6 Sookie Sookie - Don Covay & The Jefferson Lemon Blues Band (2:44)
  7. 7 Right On - Clarence Wheeler & the Enforcers (4:41)
  8. 8 (Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below We're All Going to Go - Curtis Mayfield (3:28)
  9. 9 Stepping Stones - Johnny Harris (5:24)
  10. 10 I'm Just Like You - Gix (3:08)
  11. 11 Funky Thing, Pt. 1 - Unemployed (3:06)
  12. 12 Messie Bessie - Shirley Scott (4:19)
  13. 13 Fairchild - Willie West (3:20)
  14. 14 Cold Bear - The Gaturs (2:55)
  15. 15 I Can't Get Next to You - Mongo Santamaría (2:44)
  16. 16 Feelin' Alright - Lulu (3:02)
  17. 17 Soul Bowel - The Memphis Horns (3:21)
  18. 18 Tuane - Hammer (3:07)
  19. 19 Take It off, Pt. 2 - Johnny Tolbert & De Thangs (3:17)
  20. 20 Seeds of Life - Harlem River Drive (5:09)
  21. 21 Engine Number 9 - Wilson Pickett (2:50)
Disc 3
  1. 1 Hard Times - Baby Huey & the Baby Sitters (3:21)
  2. 2 What So Never the Dance, Pts. 1 & 2 - Houseguests (3:59)
  3. 3 Headless Heroes - Eugene McDaniels (3:34)
  4. 4 Spinning Wheel - Wade Marcus (3:58)
  5. 5 Bad Tune - Earth, Wind & Fire (4:42)
  6. 6 Mr. Cool - Rasputin's Stash (3:34)
  7. 7 Don't Cha Hear Me Callin' to Ya - Junior Mance (5:09)
  8. 8 Hang on in There - Stovall Sisters (3:16)
  9. 9 Funky Nassau, Pt. 2 - The Beginning of the End (2:00)
  10. 10 Whatever's Fair - Mark Holder & the Positives (2:42)
  11. 11 Face It - Ed Robinson (2:25)
  12. 12 Wah Wah Man - Young-Holt Unlimited (3:47)
  13. 13 Rock Steady - Aretha Franklin (4:32)
  14. 14 Won't Nobody Listen - Black Haze Express (4:17)
  15. 15 Goin' Down - Allen Toussaint (2:59)
  16. 16 Suavecito - Malo (3:27)
  17. 17 You Gotta Know Whatcha Doin' - Charles Wright (3:58)
  18. 18 Mo Jo Hanna - Teri Lynn (3:26)
  19. 19 Ridin' Thumb - King Curtis (3:10)
  20. 20 Almendra - Macondo (3:46)
  21. 21 Nuki Suki - Little Richard (5:30)
Disc 4
  1. 1 Getting Uptown (To Get Down) - United B (2:46)
  2. 2 8 Days on the Road - Howard Tate (2:40)
  3. 3 Moon Shadow - Labelle (4:25)
  4. 4 Let It Crawl - Society's Bag (2:37)
  5. 5 Wanaoh - Black Heat (3:54)
  6. 6 If It Was Good Enough for Daddy - Clarence Reid (3:05)
  7. 7 Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky - Claudia Lennear (3:46)
  8. 8 Cosmic Sea - Mystic Moods Orchestra (2:37)
  9. 9 Kissing My Love - Cold Blood (6:06)
  10. 10 Flute Thing - Seatrain (3:23)
  11. 11 Chug Chug Chug-A-Lug (Push N' Shove), Pt. 2 - The Meters (3:29)
  12. 12 Funky to the Bone - Freddi & Henchi & the Soulsetters (2:42)
  13. 13 Try It Again - Bobby Byrd (3:36)
  14. 14 Teasin' - Cornell Dupree (3:55)
  15. 15 (Everybody Wanna Get Rich) Rite Away - Dr. John (2:44)
  16. 16 Chicken Heads - Oscar Brown Jr. (2:40)
  17. 17 Rien Ne Va Plus - Funk Factory (5:18)
  18. 18 Cajun Moon - Herbie Mann (3:08)
  19. 19 Improve - Darrow Fletcher (2:51)
  20. 20 Riding High - Faze-O (5:21)
  21. 21 Four Play - Fred Wesley & the Horny Horns (3:34)
  22. 22 California Dreamin' - Eddie Hazel (4:04)
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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
Al Kooper Composer
Curtis Mayfield Composer, Producer
Ohio Players Arranger
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
Les 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
Mac Rebennack 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
The 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 Jr. 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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    D'ont think so much'

    just shake your butt.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Slow Groove Funk

    I am very happy that I bought this box but it is not what I expected. This box could have had a subtitle of "Slow Groove" as it is mostly in the slower Funk category and consisting mostly of instrumentals. It is not the high-power Funk that I was expecting, but I am not disappointed with what this turned out to be. This is not an essential box set, but it does present a fascinating side of Funk that is very enjoyable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    This is one of the best box sets of all time

    If you like funk, if you like soul, if you like to smile and dance your butt off...this is the box set for you. If you don't like any of those things...you might not be an American...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews