Various Artists

Original Raw Soul

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When I stumbled across this CD in a "Misc. Soul" bin at a used record store, there was a piece of paper taped to the cover stating "Beware of this one, it is an ass-kicker!" which turned out to be the most accurate description of this sweaty collection of vintage soul/funk grooves. Taken from the "vaults" of Hotpie & Candy Records, Original Raw Soul appears to be a just-uncovered archival find of rare '70s uncut James Brown-style funk. The telltale fat bass and porno wah-wah guitar, augmented by golden horn sections and gritty Hammond organ vamps, are straight out of the era of denim suits and wide lapels. Upon further examination, the compilation (featuring the hip-droppin', soul-sockin' Soul-Saints Orchestra, the Poets of Rhythm, and the Woo Woo's, among others) seems to be a creation of modern-day acid jazz label Instinct Records. While this seems almost to be a cruel trick, the bands and liner notes do such an accurate job of being faithful to the funk of that era that it is impossible to be certain about the origin of this material. In the end, where the stuff comes from isn't important because it grooves like none other. Literally the perfect party album, Original Raw Soul is obscure enough to keep vinyl-philes scratching their heads and familiar enough that anyone who has heard "I Got You (I Feel Good)" by the Godfather of Soul will be able to follow along. [Instinct released a second volume, More Original Raw Soul in 1997, and a third volume, Even More Original Raw Soul in 1998.]

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