Various Artists

Funk Funk: The Best of Funk Essentials, Vol. 2

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Picking up where Funky Stuff left off, the next installment in the Funk Essentials series, 1994's Funk Funk: The Best of Funk Essentials, Vol. 2, pumps up the energy and pulls out every stop before finding a few more to grab on this absolutely outstanding compilation that showcases this genre's finest. While the songs on Funk Funk won't be surprising to aficionados, what will be pleasing is the inclusion of often hard-to-find 12" versions of several favorites -- Parliament's "Aquaboogie," Kool & the Gang's slightly mellower "Get Down on It," and the Gap Band's infectious, bass-looped "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" are club classics, well worth hearing in all their extended glory. More importantly, though, is the appearance of the 12" version of Orange Crush's "Action." Recorded by Kurtis Blow's own band (Blow's also here solo with his groundbreaking fusion of funk and rap, "The Breaks"), "Action" is a powerful reminder of just how smoothly rap, funk, and soul grew up together across this stunning clash of breakbeat and James Brown guitars. With these three songs priming the groove, it's an easy vibe straight into some of the genre's best-loved songs. Cameo pokes fun at their first hit, "Rigor Mortis," on their mothership-meets-Star Trek epic, "Funk Funk," leaving the Bar-Kays' "Let's Have Some Fun" to temper the humor with classic style, and Barry White to smooth the moves with his instrumental "Just a Little More, Baby." Well planned and executed, Funk Funk probably couldn't have been better. A mighty ride, this compilation -- like its 1993 counterpart -- teaches in the gentlest way just how easily the fusion of so many musical styles was able to create a vibrant sound all of its own.

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