Keb Darge

Keb Darge's Legendary Deep Funk, Vol. 2

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The first volume of Keb Darge's Legendary Deep Funk was an underground success in the U.K. and continental Europe, prompting BBE to commission another set culled from Darge's vast personal collection. Volume two is just as terrific as the first, spotlighting lost funk singles by artists so obscure that most never cut a full-length album. What makes this such an invigorating listen is that the quality of the music is so consistently high, in spite of the near-total lack of name recognition here. We're not talking major innovation here -- maybe a distinctive flourish here and there, but mostly just an infectious sense of enthusiasm and a tremendous feel for working a funky groove. Again mixing vocal and instrumental performances, the overall sound is even harder than on volume one. Take a jazzier cut like the Fabulous Mark III's flute-driven "Psycho Pt. 1," or Bad Medicine's spacier "Trespasser, Pt. 2," or Harris & Orr's synth-driven "Spread Love" -- all are still loaded with storming percussion and churning, gritty rhythms. Many of the vocals here are distinctly James Brown-inspired, as are the driving rhythms, scratching guitars, and stabbing horns, but even the blatant imitators here still sound pretty irresistible. The crazier vocal numbers include the Golden Toadstools' free-associative "Silly Savage" and Christian funksters Sons of the Kingdom's amazingly bitter anti-technology rant "Modernization"; meanwhile, fans of The Funky 16 Corners will recognize Carleen & the Groovers' frenetic "Can We Rap." Individual highlights are hard to pick out, though -- there's so much fast-paced energy on these tracks, and it carries all the way through the whole collection. Here's more proof of why Keb Darge is the most reliable brand name in deep funk compilations, and why this long-forgotten music is worth rediscovering in the first place.

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