Various Artists

Fallin' off the Reel, Vol. 3

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The third in a series of collections from R&B revivalist label Truth & Soul Records, Fallin' Off the Reel, Vol. 3 brings together the A- and B-sides from ten singles from the label's library of soul, funk, and disco material. While most of these tunes are from contemporary acts, you might not guess that at first; opening track "Ghetto Down" by Cosmic Force could pass for some lost disco gem from the days before polyester became ironic, and the easy, sensuous groove of "Musings to Myself" by El Michels Affair is a throwback to the days when funk and fusion jazz were frequent running buddies. Some of the numbers even emulate a lo-fi production style to better resemble the sounds of the '70s, though on that score, no one tops Black Velvet's "Is It Me You Really Love," an authentic '70s funk rarity that was mastered from a slightly scratchy vinyl disc that seems to have been pressed just slightly off-center. (The album also includes a rare single from the Ghetto Brothers, a New York City street gang that also dabbled in music and political activism; "Ghetto Brothers Theme" is a taut funk workout, while "I Saw a Tear" is a heartbroken lovers' lament with a powerful vocal.) Most of the tracks here emphasize grooves over hooks or melodies, with instrumental workouts outnumbering vocals tracks, so this album was assembled with specialists in mind rather than casual listeners interested in R&B oldies. But the vintage selections certainly merited being lifted from the crates, and the more recent recordings feature bands with tight, emphatic rhythm sections and able soloists; this isn't a great collection of retro-style R&B, but it's certainly a good one, and is an excellent sampler for those interested in the Truth & Soul roster.

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