Dyke & the Blazers

Funky Broadway: The Very Best of Dyke & the Blazers

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At first glance, Collectables' Funky Broadway: The Very Best of Dyke & the Blazers appears to be inferior to Kent's So Sharp!, featuring only 18 tracks as opposed to 24. But look closer: Kent separates the group's multi-part singles into separate tracks, while Collectables runs them together. The only real difference between the two is that So Sharp! features an alternate, two-part version of "Uhh" in addition to the edited single version, while Funky Broadway has only the edit; otherwise, the track selections are identical. Either way, you get an hour's worth of some of the hardest, earthiest funk the late '60s produced. Dyke & the Blazers weren't innovators, but they were among the earliest -- and best -- to pick up on James Brown's early funk sound. Their grooves were loose, choppy, and improvisational, and pretty much defined the word "stanky." Dyke's singing voice could charitably be described as a bleat, so it's no wonder he spent more time chanting, shouting, and riding the groove than trying to carry a tune. Put it all together, and Dyke & the Blazers' brand of funk was not a pretty thing -- which, of course, is what made them great. Their original version of "Funky Broadway" makes Wilson Pickett's hit cover sound like it rolled off the Motown assembly line. Aside from the ten-minute narrative "The Wrong House," most of these songs are short and to the point, working a groove for the length of a 45-rpm record. Whatever their limitations, though, Dyke & the Blazers' work still holds up extremely well, and funk fans shouldn't hesitate to embrace these early standard-bearers.

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