The Experience Music Project's outstanding collection of funk from across the whole span of the funk time line, this two-disc set is only available from one location (the EMP or its web store), but it is well worth it. The approach is similar to other funk compilations (Funk Box might be the most noteworthy), in that it begins with James Brown and moves up through the heyday of Parliament/Funkadelic and into the '80s with Carl Carlton and the Gap Band, ending somewhere in the Rick James era. As would be expected by such a formula, the album starts out with a pair of James Brown tunes, then moves into the more emotional soul-informed sector with the Temptations and Curtis Mayfield (as well as lone Temptation Eddie Kendricks). All of the standard funk numbers are here, with one representative song from each notable band, along with a few rarities not heard as often. The often overlooked Mandrill provides "Mango Meat" here, as well as the later Pleasure performing "Glide." Along with the slightly rarer bands, the compilation provides some vaguely lesser-used songs from the major bands. "Hollywood Swinging" is chosen over "Jungle Boogie" or "Celebrate" for Kool & the Gang, "Up for the Down Stroke" is used for Parliament in lieu of "Give Up the Funk" or "Bop Gun," "Mary Jane" is used for Rick James rather than "Superfreak," "Me and Baby Brother" was chosen to represent War over "Low Rider," etc. This diversity of popularity is a refreshing stance to take for funk compilations, which have an unfortunate habit of rehashing the same tunes over and over again in most cases. The quality of the music chosen is outstanding, as one would expect from the music fanatics at the Experience Music Project, and the liner notes follow suit with extensive writing and pictures dealing with each band. There are many good funk compilations to choose from (even perhaps including the mildly corny Pure Funk), but this one stands at or near the top of the pack with its breadth and diversity. Pick it up as a funk fan or someone wishing to make inroads into the genre.
AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg