Liquid Soul

Evolution

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No one is going to accuse the '70s of being the decade that time forgot. From soul, funk, and disco to heavy metal, hard rock, new wave, and punk, the '70s left a lasting impression on popular culture -- and when the 21st century rolled around, there were plenty of young Gen-X bands who had a major '70s fixation. Liquid Soul is among the many '90s/2000s outfits who brings an obsession with '70s African-American culture to the table; on Evolution, the Chicago residents make no secret of their passion for '70s soul, '70s funk, and '70s jazz-funk. Thankfully, Liquid Soul does it better than most of the competition. The songs (some instrumental, some with vocals) are generally memorable, and the punchy, well-oiled horn section is as a tight as a black leather corset -- clearly, Liquid Soul longs for the days when horn bands like Earth, Wind & Fire, the Ohio Players, Parliament/Funkadelic, and Tower of Power were all over black radio. But as retro-'70s as much of Evolution tends to be, Liquid Soul does offer some acknowledgment of early-2000s tastes. "Soul" and "Nina's in Jail," for example, are inviting rap items, but unlike most hip-hoppers, Liquid Soul's vocalists rap over real instruments instead of sticking to programmed electronic beats. It should be noted that although the Chicagoans' use of rapping on some tracks is meant to demonstrate that they aren't oblivious to 21st century black music, even hip-hop has a '70s connection. Early East Coast MCs like Kurtis Blow and Grandmaster Flash started performing in the late '70s, although it wasn't until the '80s that hip-hop really exploded commercially and acquired a huge international following. Evolution won't go down in history as trying to reinvent the wheel, but for die-hard fans of '70s black music, this lively CD is well worth obtaining.

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