Willie Feaster & the Mighty Magnificents

On the Dirt Road: Rare and Unreleased NY Funk and Soul 1969-1979

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Willie Feaster and his band, the Mighty Magnificents (sometimes billed as the Magnificent Six), did time as the house band at All Platinum Records, the label that eventually evolved into early rap powerhouse Sugarhill, and if their sound wasn't as revolutionary as what Keith LeBlanc and Doug Wimbish brought to those classic Grandmaster Flash and Sugarhill Gang sides, this collection proves Sylvia Robinson already had fine taste in studio musicians. Feaster and his band (which at times included as many as a dozen members) were professionals and journeymen, which means they offer up a little bit of everything on On the Dirt Road -- tough funk workouts ("Whacha Want Us to Do"), polished disco-friendly R&B ("Call Me"), funky but polished Philly-style soul in the manner of the Spinners ("I Think I Finally Got You Girl"), gritty blues wailing ("Don't Be Kissed by a Fool"), pleading East Coast soul ("I've Been Waiting"), and the occasional slow dance ("Closer to the Aisle"). While some of this stuff is essential for collectors of rare funk and soul, there's also some real filler on board; Feaster and his band were clearly top-rank musicians, but their songwriting chops weren't quite as impressive, and while they could cut a superior groove, there are also several cuts that are standard-issue soul of the era, no worse but no better than the average. The sound quality is also troublingly inconsistent, with some of the selections showing clear speed problems and a few sounding as if they were sourced from old cassettes. But the great moments on On the Dirt Road truly are great, and if you're looking for some fine but underappreciated grooves from the birth of the funk era, you'll find them here.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
7:13
2
feat: The Esquires
5:07
3
feat: The Esquires
4:24
4
feat: The Esquires
2:54
5
2:32
6
3:09
7
feat: Johnny Acey
3:09
8
feat: Johnny Acey
2:41
9
3:39
10
3:32
11
2:23
12
3:25
13
2:07
14
feat: Johnny Acey
2:45
15
1:46
16
2:43
17
2:32
18
feat: The Esquires
3:17
19
feat: The Esquires
2:50
blue highlight denotes track pick