Various Artists

Schoolhouse Funk

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A compilation that truly defines the term "old school," Schoolhouse Funk takes diggin' in the crates a few steps further -- into high school auditoriums, gymnasiums, and talent shows. Yes, most of these '60s and '70s funk/jazz standards appear to come direct from the collections of proud parents. A gent by the name of Motorcycle John put this together in tribute to all the platters pressed up to raise funds for new instruments, carpeting in the band hall, etc. (Odds are good that there's some DJ Shadow involvement, as this was released through his Solesides label.) Rather than cut up the renditions into a turntablist melange, you get the whole deal. "Black Roots," "The World Is a Ghetto," and "Chameleon" each appear in full, hashed out by teenage amateurs, sometimes with surprising success. True, you might hear an unintentional Ayler homage here and there, and the version of "Cisco Kid" that's turned into a right-on double dutch chant might feature some strained upper registers, but the dedicated spirit is definitely present from top to toe. The MC interludes are a treat, too. The theme of the DHS Trojans' 1980 Spring Talent Show -- "A Toast to the Boogie" -- takes the subtitle of this compilation. Each of "the DHS Dancers" get a big intro from the boisterous MCs, replete with funky accompaniment (check the incidental raygun "piew-piew" zaps, last heard at a roller jam or the Gong Show episode of What's Happening). As expected, the dancers from the class of 1980 (seniors!!!) are the real crowd pleasers, emitting the biggest responses from the crowd. Don't worry -- the kids of 1981 and 1982 get their due, too. Other classic songs receiving recognition from these true "young lions": "Red Clay," "Camel Back," and a stone-cold "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey."

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