Various Artists

Shattered Dreams: Funky Blues 1967-1978

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In the late 1960s and '70s, musicians who'd established themselves as blues artists often moved -- whether because of commercial pressure, a genuine desire to explore new territory, or some combination of the two -- toward a more soulful, funkified sound. Two of the biggest hits resulting from such a fusion, Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign" and Lowell Fulson's "Tramp," give you an idea of how much (though by no means all) of this compilation sounds. Spanning the late '60s to the late '70s, many (though, again, by no means all) of the cuts are drawn from the vaults of Modern Records, though notable tracks done for a few other labels, such as Stax and Vanguard, are here too. Some of these performers (Buddy Guy, Albert King, Johnny Otis) are among the very biggest names in blues; others (Lowell Fulson, Little Milton) are quite well known, and quite a few might not even be known to blues collectors. Not much if anything is in the same league as "Born Under a Bad Sign" or "Tramp," but that would have been a tall order. Most of it's perfectly fine if blues-soul of the era is your thing, and the influence of soul and funk means that this is more varied than many a grab-bag blues anthology, though individual favorites are going to be different according to your taste. It's hard to believe, though, that the average listener won't favor Buddy Guy's 1968 cut "I'm Not the Best" over most or all of its surroundings; it's a smoking live number with obvious, though not at all awkward, nods to soul screamers like James Brown and Otis Redding. Some of the more interesting items fall a little outside the usual brassy/funky blues-soul box, like Slim Green's "Shake 'Em Up," which is a little in the proto-rap mold of uptempo '60s soul numbers by the likes of Joe Tex; Smokey Wilson's "You Shattered My Dreams," which recalls B.B. King's most sorrowful, dramatic ballads; the Johnny Otis Show's "Comin' at Ya Baby, Pt. 2" (one of five previously unreleased tracks on the CD), which is instrumental James Brown-like funk; and Arthur K. Adams' "Gimme Some of Your Lovin'," another cut where the Brown influence is apparent.

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