Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez

Strange Games and Funky Things, Vol. 3

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With many consumers all but giving up on often dubious domestic R&B compilations featuring '70s and '80s R&B and jazz tracks, BBE was an English label that went the extra mile. The Strange Games series became one of the label's most successful sets. The 2001 three-CD set Strange Games & Funky Things, Vol. 3 is no exception. Compiled and mixed by Kenny Dope, this has 23 tracks, some hard to find, others not, most essential. The mixed CD here is particularly potent. Don Blackman's always great "Holding You, Loving You" is employed the best here. Dope also groups and reconfigures prime Roy Ayers tracks and productions -- "Love From the Sun" and "Everybody Loves the Sunshine" -- and Ramp's gorgeous "Daylight." Unlike DJ Spinna's take on tracks on Strange Games and Things, Dope seems a bit tentative to really "play with" most of the songs on the mixed CD. Marvin Gaye's effortlessly funky "T Plays It Cool" all but begs for some scratches and deft edits yet receives none. The unmixed CDs are bogged down due to the fact of readily availability and or the ho-hum nature of some of the songs. The tracks from Parliament are readily available elsewhere. The set's title track, Love Unlimited Orchestra's "Strange Games & Things," isn't so "rare" anymore. Other tracks like Jerry Butler's "I'm Your Mechanical Man" and Rufus & Chaka's "What Am I Missing" weren't that great to begin with. All in all, Strange Games & Funky Things, Vol. 3 is an enjoyable set, but it lacks the sense of fun and wonder to be definitive.