Various Artists

Pop-A-Groove: '70s Rare Soul & Funk Collide on the Dancefloor

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Usually compilations don't rate this highly, but this one is special for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the uncharacteristic lack of documentation by the usually scholarly Goldmine label. While the tracks and artists are listed along with producers in most cases, there is no other information provided -- the inside booklet is blank. While this would be a detriment for most collectors and fans, it actually serves to make the collection more beguiling. Indeed, the Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music is considered to be a document that preserved the legacies of dozens of obscure artists who would have passed into oblivion, and this is the same idea. Here are cuts by Otis Jackson, Spaceark, the VIP Connection, Soul Band, Future Shock, Milton Hamilton Crystalized, and many others (14 in all) that offer a solid portrait of a particular place in time, with popping basslines, open jazz chords, double-timed drums, and killer vocals accenting groove over melody for the first time in the history of soul. Tracks are staggered to offer more groove-heavy funk numbers in alternate sequencing with more straight-ahead deep soul balladry, though all of these tracks are steeped in similar arrangements and a sound that screams the decade's name they came from. One needs only to get to track three, "The Stranger," by the C. Henry Woods Troupe (anyone ever hear of 'em?) to understand that Motown, Sly, the Parliaments, and Curtis Mayfield gave birth to an entirely new sound that none of them would embody individually yet would contribute to universally. This is essential music from a time that has yet to gets its due for the contributions it made to soul music.

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