Various Artists

Ain't It Funky Now!

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Subtitled "Flat Out Funk From the Jazz Brotherhood," this takes 18 Prestige soul-jazz cuts from the late '60s and early '70s. For serious collectors of this stuff, the big attraction here might be that 13 of the 18 numbers are presented in their 45 single edits, rather than their full-length album versions. To some, that might seem like a disadvantage, as you're actually not hearing some music from the longer versions. In its defense, it must be said that those 45 edits are pretty hard to find and also that, particularly for those who see this style as dancefloor fodder, the shorter edits are sometimes valued for honing in on the principal hooks and riffs rather than the improv solos. As a whole, it actually serves as a good sampler/overview of the large late-'60s/early-'70s Prestige soul-jazz catalog, which is spread out on innumerable albums and reissues and can be hard for a neophyte to taste in a manageable dose. Many of the big soul-jazz names on the Prestige roster are here, including Charles Earland, Idris Muhammad, Melvin Sparks, Gene Ammons, Charles Kynard, Boogaloo Joe Jones, and Rusty Bryant. Interspersed among the original compositions are instrumental covers of then-hits like "Son of a Preacher Man," "I Want You Back," "Super Bad," "Express Yourself," and Sly Stone's "Thank You, Pt. 1." It's a tasty helping of the house sound the label carved within this niche, with a jazz core but heavy on soulful brass, effervescent organ, and sharp R&B-blues-influenced guitar links, often bearing the influence of early funk (particularly James Brown) as well.

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