Carl Craig

Abstract Funk Theory

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Another installment in the U.K.-based Obsessive label's Abstract Funk Theory series places the listener in the able hands of producer and label head Carl Craig. (No further introduction necessary.) Within the span of an hour, Craig serves up an invaluable history lesson consisting of '80s funk, techno, electro, and otherwise. This is not a mix; rather, this offers each track in its full glory. And if it wasn't made in Detroit, it has ties to the city -- or more specifically, the city's radio waves and the high school parties that went down in its northwest corner during the early part of that decade. Those who have only heard reverential stories about radio DJ the Electrifying Mojo and late club DJ Ken Collier's influential, open-minded, mind-opening, and barrier-breaking taste-making will have the spirit of the inspirational figures' sets shooting through their ears with these selections. The biggest testament to the legendary party scene that helped spawn Detroit techno is present in the form of A Number of Names' "Sharevari" (the disc misspells the title as "Shari Vari"), the ultra-decadent Italo disco-inspired tribute to the ultra-chic and ultra-elitist scene. Moving in a roughly chronological fashion, Craig rifles through a stack of other personal favorites, beginning with the ten-minute version of George Clinton's electronic funk landmark "Atomic Dog" and concluding with Rhythim Is Rhythim's "The Dance." A fair majority of the tracks that fall between still sound ahead of their time, though X-Ray's "Let's Go" (a track by Derrick May, Juan Atkins, and Juan's brother, Aaron, which was the first 12" released on May's Transmat label), a bounding screwball of a number with drunken exclamations of "Surf's up, baby!" and whatnot, is definitely an exception to that notion. Three unimpeachable Juan Atkins classics highlight the disc, including Cybotron's "Alleys of Your Mind," which kick-started Detroit's electronic music legacy along with the aforementioned "Sharevari" in 1981. Channel One's "Technicolor" and Model 500's "Night Drive" are the other Atkins-related productions found here. Other slots are reserved for Kevin Saunderson and Santonio Echols' Reese & Santonio ("Forcefield"), Craig's B.F.C. ("Galaxy"), and the B-52's, whose stiff/loose "Mesopotamia" became an underground dance classic thanks to Mojo and the party scene. Whether reminiscing or getting schooled, a good time for all is guaranteed.

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