Funky Stuff

Funky Stuff: The Best of Funk Essentials

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For those looking to find a crash course in "the funk" -- a quick introduction to the fusion of R&B, soul, jazz, blues, good old rock & roll, and all-out outrageousness that creates the ultimate good groove -- you can't do much better than the Funk Essentials compilations. Funky Stuff: The Best of Funk Essentials is the perfect portrait. With its contents drawn from the single-band Funk Essentials compilation albums, this clean, clear set provides incredible diversity while keeping the vibe connected. In other words, Funky Stuff is not only an introduction to the heaviest of hitters, but also a nifty, smooth ride for the already initiated. Opening with (of course!) Parliament's seminal 1978 number one "Flashlight," included in its nearly 11-minute 12" extended version, it's just a short hop to the bright brass of Kool & the Gang's whistle-punctuated "Funky Stuff." Both bands are reprised a little later with "Tear the Roof off the Sucker (Give up the Funk)" and "Jungle Jazz," respectively. Rounding out the contemporary flow are Cameo's old-school homage and first charting single, "Rigor Mortis," and Con Funk Shun's brass- and bass-infused "Ffun." And, while these songs are familiar -- and perfect for a compilation -- Funky Stuff keeps the toes up with the inclusion of a couple of nice touches, including Hamilton Bohannon's "Let's Start the Dance" and the edgy guitar and vocal jam of Leon Haywood's 1975 hit "I Want'a Do Something Freaky to You." The latter is especially welcome, as it's such a classic old-style groove that's often overlooked on contemporary collections. So, be you funk master looking for a jam-packed delight or a new schooler exploring the history, Funky Stuff becomes a valuable asset.

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