Les McCann

Talk to the People

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While Invitation to Openness was Les McCann's progressive statement of 1972, this was his populist sermon, with a title to match. With four vocals among the seven tracks, Talk to the People preaches earthily in the funky soul/jazz and R&B languages of the time, with some social comment besides. Having gone completely over to the Rhodes electric piano and Hohner clavinet, McCann became a fervent convert -- indeed, he and Stevie Wonder were the funky-butt champs of the clavinet in the 1970s -- and he could beat on them with the rhythmic snap of a conga drummer. "Shamading" may be the funkiest, hip-shaking thing McCann has ever recorded; the cool, swaggering funkathon "North Carolina" runs a close second; and the best of the vocals is a very gritty and convincing treatment of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On." Although there are some weak links in this chain of tunes, the highs are sky-high, and they represent some of McCann's peak studio performances.

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