Various Artists

Disco: A Fine Selection of Independent Disco, Modern Soul and Boogie 1978-82

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The sound quality is not ideal (the Soul Jazz label likely did all they could), and the information-packed booklet has some errors (like the misspelling of Fran├žois Kevorkian), but this two-disc compilation will appeal to curious listeners and knowledgeable heads alike. The companion to the 360-page book Disco: An Encyclopedic Guide to the Art of Disco Records, it complements dozens of like-minded compilations released on labels like Harmless, Nuphonic, Azuli, Strut, and BBE, as there isn't much overlap. Crucially, a high percentage of the selections are more than mere curiosities, and there's a good balance between cuts that involve the handiwork of relatively known sources -- like the Aleems, Leroy Burgess, Jellybean Benitez, and John Morales -- and obscure one-offs. Several cuts make their first appearance on CD, including Something Extra's somewhat Pleasure-like "Sexy Lady," the Imperials' T.K.-issued "Fast Freddie the Roller Disco King," Stwange Poweple's blissfully relaxed "Get Up (Let's Rock)," and Chemistry's elegantly funky "Skateboard." It's surprising that some of them weren't digitally circulated prior to this. The best of them is Jupiter Beyond's ten-minute "The River Drive," an almost-overstuffed gem produced by Phillip Lightfoot, husband of Kathy Sledge and contributor to Sister Sledge's 1981-1985 recordings.

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