Various Artists

Living in the Streets, Vol. 3

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The third volume of this unusual but very worthwhile series shows no signs of running out of steam in its excavation of obscure oddball goodies of the stranger manifestations of R&B in the late '60s and early '70s, and occasionally a bit later (one track on here's from 1979). one of the better tracks, the Generation's storming funk-rock "I'm a Good Woman," features lead vocals by a pre-Cold Blood Lydia Pense. But there's a lot of prime soul, funk, and jazz from the era, usually in collision with and feeding off each other (and sometimes borrowing from psychedelic rock), reflecting a wild era in which boundaries were falling all over the place. Most of the cuts are very good, and very few of the performers will be known to anyone but collectors, save the Fatback Band, jazzmen Charles McPherson (as accompanist to singer Pat Bowie) and Gary Bartz, and perhaps eccentric soul veteran King Hannibal aka the Mighty Hannibal. But some highlights to listen out for include a rare 1969 socially conscious funk B-side by Johnny King & the Fatback Band; the Mighty Tom Cats' 1973 cover of Manu Dibango's "Soul Makossa"; Tanya Winley's 1979 recording "Vicious Rap," regarded by some as one of the very first rap records, though its musical backing still owes a lot to funk; Jade's "Viva! (Viva Tirado)," a vocal version of the El Chicano hit; Gary Bartz's "I've Known Rivers," inspired by a Langston Hughes poem; Lorez Alexandria's 1968 torch-soul single "I'm Wishin'"; and Pat Bowie's "Feeling Good," a magnificently contained interpretation of this classic standard, and the earliest cut here, dating from 1965. Certainly this isn't the most stylistically consistent anthology out there, but that's not an issue when the music is this good, and the presentation and annotation so expert.

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