Hot Funky & Sweaty

Hot, Sweaty and Funky

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This unauthorized-looking compilation, as the small-print subtitle boasts, features "10 Super Rare Original Funk Killers from the Late 60s to the Early 70s." And you won't find another thing about the rarities on this CD from the packaging, other than the artist names and song titles, though the compilers bothered to dress it in a ridiculous cover of a water-skiing, sombrero-topped cartoon alligator, cocktail in hand. Are these rare? Hell yes -- Willie Bobo is the only name to excite a glimmer of recognition among most listeners, and he was more known for Latin soul-jazz than funk. The rest of the roster -- Joe Lee, Five Miles Out, the Brothers, Harold Young & the Magnificents, the Soul Lifters, Road Runners, Bird Rollins, and (with two tracks) Richard Marks -- must be known only to the crate-carrying DJ contingent. Is it killer? Maybe not 100 percent so, though it's an okay mixture of hard-cooking early vocal and instrumental funk. There are plenty of tight percolating guitar grooves, and some neat raw combinations that tended to get smoothed out a little on bigger-budget hits. Richard Marks gets real close to the James Brown sound on "I'm the Man for You" (which kicks off with ace gutbucket funk guitar twang); the Brothers' "Brother Groove" has neat horn-guitar interlocking that deftly slides to a lower key at times; and the Soul Lifters' "Hot, Funky, and Sweaty" is anchored by a hypnotic downward spiraling guitar lick. There aren't many killer riffs, though, which makes this of more appeal to the collector than the average funk fan, though collectors and funk fans alike would probably have a whale of a time hearing these unexpectedly come over the sound system on the dancefloor. The fidelity isn't optimum (though it's not problematic either), however, the cuts obviously having been transferred from vinyl, and it's rather stingy on running time, lasting just over a half-hour. For the record, the title of the record might be something more than "Hot, Funky, and Sweaty": the word "Natural" also appears on the spine, while tiny letters on the bottom of the right cover read "Gator Kool Is Back Volume 15."

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