Various Artists

Crash of Thunder: Boss Soul, Funk and R&B Sides from the Vaults of the King

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A King Records retrospective without James Brown would seem, in principle, the equivalent of a day without sunshine, but VampiSoul's sprawling Crash of Thunder delivers the goods. Assembled by DJ Mr. Finewine, whose résumé includes the superb Vital Organs compilation, the disc resurrects a host of long-lost, one-off singles steamrolled into obscurity by the Godfather of Soul's sheer brilliance and productivity. Despite (or maybe because of) their dim commercial fortunes, these records sound remarkably fresh and vital decades after the fact, capturing in full the vast scope of soul and funk that evolved across the late '60s and early '70s. Brown's influence is unmistakable, of course, but these gritty, visceral grooves never fall prey to paint-by-numbers mimicry; in other words, Papa wasn't the only one with a brand new bag. Highlights include the Presidents' "Peter Rabbit," James Duncan's "You've Got to Be Strong," and Wayne Cochran's "Chopper 70."