Having played on hundreds of hit records, it was only fitting that this Oakland-based group of studio hornmen should strike out on their own and this two-disc anthology from Rhino captures the ups, downs, ins, and outs of T.O.P.'s 30-year career. In many ways, the group retrospective is not just a document of the group's evolving sound, but a microcosm of the changing sound of R&B throughout the '70s and '80s. The soul band sound of early tracks like "Knock Yourself Out" sound as if the group is doing a muscular workout at a soul music revue and the oily R&B of "Back on the Streets Again" and "Down to the Nightclub" perfectly reflects the post-Motown pre-disco period of early-'70s rhythm and blues. As the songs progress the band goes on to dabble in funk ("You Got to Funkifize"), jazz soul ("Sparkling in the Sound"), and disco before ultimately (and unfortunately) giving way to the slick, hollow production standards of the '80s. Throughout the 35 tracks, however, singer Lenny Williams' voice sparkles and the group's tight musicianship, being honed through years of session work, is undeniable. At two discs, Rhino has made sure not to stretch the music thin and with a relative cost, the anthology is a good entrance to T.O.P.'s long career.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Kurutz
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2