Various Artists

King Funk

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These 24 cuts were released by the King label or King subsidiaries between 1967 and 1973 (with the exception of the previously unreleased "Don't Get Funky" by Gloria Walker). During the early stretch of that period, James Brown was carrying the whole King enterprise on his back. It comes as no surprise, then, that an anthology of non-Brown funk on the label during this period is heavily James Brown-influenced. You hear it up-front in the first two tracks, Bill Doggett's "Honky Tonk Popcorn" and Hank Ballard's "Butter Your Popcorn," attempts by two fading R&B stars to ride James Brown's "Popcorn" hits. Overall, this is adequate, but not noteworthy, period funk; none of the performers are recognizable to anyone but collectors, except for the Coasters (who do an ill-advised 1972 remake of "Love Potion No. 9") and the aforementioned Ballard and Doggett. As is so often the situation on second-tier soul anthologies, the derivative nature of much of the material is real in-your-face: Roosevelt Matthews' cover of Archie Bell's "Tighten Up" could not hope to make anyone forget the original; the Presidents do the late-'60s James Brown routine on "Gold Walk" (as does Little Royal on "Soul Train"); the Sons of Funk do their best to emulate the smoldering funk of the JB's on the two-part "From the Back Side." This CD is not a bad secondary acquisition for the funk fanatic, mind you -- just nothing to jump up and down about. The set is at least made more listenable by some variety among the instrumentals and between the male and female vocalists.

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