Various Artists

'80s Groove Sessions

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The rampant '80s revivalism that was taking place during the early 2000s left all the exciting and forward-looking black dance music created during the era in the dust. Sessions came to the rescue in 2002 -- sorta -- with another installment in their series of bold double-disc packages of rare, forgotten, and popular material. '80s Groove Sessions traverses the broad spectrum of dance music released during that decade. There's plenty of brilliant, electrifying post-disco/pre-house, such as Indeep's "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life," D Train's "You're the One for Me," Shannon's "Let the Music Play," Imagination's "Flashback," and Evelyn "Champagne" King's "Love Come Down." Those songs combined innovative use of programmed rhythms and synthesizer manipulation with memorable vocal turns. They picked up where disco left off and fed directly into disco's baby, house music. Musique's "Keep on Jumpin'," Machine's "There but for the Grace of God Go I," and Carrie Lucas' "Dance With You" remain truer to '70s disco four-on-the-floor standards with arrangements that lean toward the more organic: pianos, strings, and human rhythm sections. Another chunk is devoted to jazzy R&B like Sylvia Striplin's "Give Me Your Love," the Eighties Ladies' "I Knew That Love," Bobbi Humphrey's "Don't You Know," and Roy Ayers' "Everybody" -- all of which feature Ayers' handiwork in some respect. The remainder can more or less be identified as '80s soul and straight funk/R&B, with Curtis Mayfield's "Tripping Out," Luther Vandross' "Never Too Much," and Earth, Wind & Fire's "Let's Groove" leading the way. Taken as a whole, '80s Groove Sessions showcases a period during which some of the most imaginative, cathartic, and fun music was released. Most of what's found here has hardly lost any edge. (As a pedantic gripe, some of the selections were originally released in the late '70s.)

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