Various Artists

Masterpiece: The Ultimate Disco Funk Collection, Vol. 1

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Initiated the same year as PTG's similar Nighttime Lovers series, the Netherlands-based label's Masterpiece series dubs itself "The Ultimate Disco Funk Collection," but it's definitely targeted at the most hardcore fans of post-disco R&B -- those who have all the basics and most of the second-tier hits of the era: D Train's "You're the One for Me," Gwen Guthrie's "Seventh Heaven," S.O.S. Band's Greatest Hits, and on and on. In almost every instance, the tracks come in 12" or extended form, plucked off both the largest major imprints and smallest independents. The first volume is par for the series' course, a mixture of undeniably terrific minor hits and obscurities and satisfactory marginalia that will appeal only to those who love the sound of this stuff -- slick and geared for the dancefloor, often enhanced with drum machines and synthesizers used not just as a typical keyboard stand-in but also as bass and texture. (O'Bryan is the disc's most-known contributor.) Advance's "Take Me to the Top," produced by a pair of Italians and released on Polydor, hit the U.S. club chart in April of 1983, peaking at number 55 and deserving so much more. It's one of the most glorious midtempo club cuts of its time, emboldened by a particularly awesome breakdown full of zipping and gleaming synth, chewy bass guitar, and a simple but ideal beat. Other highlights: Armenta's "I Wanna Be with You," produced by Kool & the Gang's Amir Bayyan, who serves up something as hot as anything put together by Kool & the Gang collaborator Deodato; "Don't You Want My Lovin'," from the Greg Phillinganes-sounding Michael Baker, released in the U.K. on the same label as Sun Palace's Loft classic "Rude Movements."