The Funk Brothers

20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Funk Brothers

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

While it is tempting to write for literally days about the contribution of the Funk Brothers to the Motown legacy, it would be redundant. Other than cold hard cash being paid to the remaining members and their families for their stellar performances and groove archetypes as a way of remedying an injustice, the verbal accolades have all been offered and received on countless web pages, in magazine articles that have been written from 1991 to the present (2004), and in the brilliant motion picture Standing in the Shadows of Motown. This tiny volume is the only title ever issued under the Funk Brothers moniker, and as such it is woefully inadequate as an accurate reflection of the massive amount of music these 13 men made between the years 1960 and 1972. In fact, a box set might have fallen short of the mark as well, but one disc barely scratches it. That said, the work of Earl Van Dyke, James Jamerson, Pistol Allen, Benny Benjamin, Robert White, Eddie Willis, Jack Ashford, Joe Messina, Johnny Griffith, Joe Hunter, Uriel Jones, Bob Babbit, and Eddie "Bongo" Brown is showcased gloriously here as having been an entire empire of groove unto itself. What these 12 cuts reveal -- all of them backing tracks, some with overlaid backing vocals -- is what the Motown singers had as a foundation for their ingenious singing. From "The Way You Do the Things You Do" to "Come See About Me" to "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" to "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" to the instrumental version of "What's Goin' On" to "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" and all points in between, this music is singular, superb, and off the scale. A couple of these tracks have been issued before as breakbeat cuts for DJs, and another pair are on the Motown Story compilation, but for the most part, these familiar songs have never been heard in this form, as they were, fully formed and smoking with groove luster before the singers added the final kiss to grace them for the mass public. Given that this is budget-priced, there is no excuse whatsoever to pass on this collection unless you have sawdust for blood in your veins or hate soul music -- which means you don't like music at all and this is essentially the equivalent. And who knows, if it sells, perhaps there is at least another volume or someone with enough vision and fire in his or her belly at Motown to produce the only thing that could eclipse this: a box set. If Booker T. got one, then the Funk Brothers deserve the same treatment by history.

blue highlight denotes track pick