A breakbeats-only album (which includes performances not only by Bernard Purdie but also Mike Clark, formerly of Herbie Hancock's Headhunters), Master Drummers, Vol. 1 re-creates popular beats for DJs and producers to use without paying clearance fees for the original performances. As such, it has little interest for the average listener. Also, it may not be entirely useful for its intended audience. "Pretty Funky Drummer" is an aptly titled version of Clyde Stubblefield's immortal rhythm for James Brown's 1971 classic "Funky Drummer," possibly the most sampled breakbeat ever (used by everyone from Public Enemy and Run-D.M.C. to Sinéad O'Connor and the Fine Young Cannibals). The problem is, it's obviously not Stubblefield's original, and it's not as good. It's like those cheap knockoffs of designer fragrances that you can buy at low-end variety stores. You can compare Master Drummers, Vol. 1 to the originals, but it just doesn't measure up.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason