Various Artists

Black & Proud: The Soul of the Black Panther Era, Vol. 1

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Equal parts time capsule and monster groove collection, Black & Proud: The Soul of the Black Panther Era, Vol. 1 documents the seismic shift of black popular music from the crowd-pleasing, apolitical Motown sound to the defiant, combative funk of the post-Summer of Love era. Highlights like Gil Scott-Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," James Brown's "Ghetto Reality," and Curtis Mayfield's "Ghetto Child" still smolder with pride, anger, and genius -- rarely if ever has music freed so many minds and asses at the same time. The set's great failing is the absence of Sly and the Family Stone -- no one was more responsible for the politicizing of soul music than Sly Stone, and regardless of whatever rights issues are to blame, Black & Proud is severely compromised by this omission, offering, at best, an incomplete history of its subject matter. Still, in a modern era where popular music is so often disposable and mindless, these 18 tracks recall an era when records were like messages from the frontlines -- the times may have changed, but the passion and power haven't diminished.

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