Keb Darge's Legendary Deep Funk, Vol. 1

Keb Darge

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Keb Darge's Legendary Deep Funk, Vol. 1 Review

by Steve Huey

Scottish DJ and record collector Keb Darge is perhaps the biggest name on the U.K.'s deep funk scene, respected for his encyclopedic knowledge of rare funk 45s and his impeccable taste as a compiler. Originally released as a double-vinyl set in 1997, Keb Darge's Legendary Deep Funk, Vol. 1 is the compilation that first established that reputation, and it still stands as a landmark collection in the rediscovery of deep funk. No longer was it the exclusive domain of obsessive collectors paying triple-digit prices for obscure records, or club patrons who knew where to hear their favorite DJs spin jealously guarded tunes in a live setting. Legendary Deep Funk, Vol. 1 certainly wasn't the first such compilation, but it was probably the highest-profile up to that point; it also benefited from Darge's taste for the harder, heavier end of the spectrum, which gives it a fairly unified sound and a crackling energy throughout -- much like a smartly paced DJ set. There's a good mix of vocal and instrumental cuts, all falling in between two and four minutes and grouped in five-tune blocks (corresponding to the LP sides) that alternate between the '60s and '70s. Funky 16 Corners fans will recognize Ernie & the Topnotes Inc.'s terrific "Dap Walk," but most of these tracks are hard to find anywhere else, especially on the original vinyl. Highlights include Cross Bronx Expressway's eponymous single, two sides by Family of Eve, Ray Frazier's righteous "I Who Have Nothing," and "The (Rockin') Courtroom" by the superbly named Judge Suds & the Soul Detergents. If you discovered the joys of deep funk via The Funky 16 Corners and wonder where to go next, pretty much anything with Darge's name on it is worthwhile, but the Legendary Deep Funk series is his finest achievement to date.

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