Various Artists

The '70s Preservation Society Presents Those Funky '70s

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All through the 1980s, the 1970s were viewed as an embarrassment, a lost decade characterized by mood rings, pet rocks, and platform shoes. Credit the '70s Preservation Society with recognizing at the dawn of the '90s that the 20-year nostalgia factor that had made the '50s hot in the '70s and the '60s hot in the '80s would also apply to the '70s. Anticipating that resurgence, the society focused on funk, one of the decade's more appealing musical trends, and licensed tracks from many different labels to create this compilation, which, with one exception (the "Bonus '80s Track," 1981's "Super Freak, [Part I]," by Rick James) focuses on the period 1971-1976. After 1976 came the disco deluge, but the early and mid-'70s saw the development of R&B and soul into funk, and many of the style's classics are here, among them 12 gold records and ten number one R&B hits. Collections that concentrate on particular time periods tend to sound randomly organized, but this one benefits from the single musical approach and also from the sequencing. Instead of jumping from one totally different key and beat to another, the way compilations often do, the album has the feel of a carefully sequenced dance club set, with one song flowing into another in a way that maintains the mood. It helps that the songs are so good, often the breakthrough hits that established bands, like Kool & the Gang's "Jungle Boogie" and Rufus' "Tell Me Something Good," or brought them back to prominence, such as the Jackson 5's "Dancing Machine" and Labelle's "Lady Marmalade." This is one compilation put together by people who love and understand the music they're programming, and it makes a case that the '70s produced at least one worthwhile musical style, funk.

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