Various Artists

The Further Adventures of Funk Soul Sisters

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When most listeners think of funk, or even funk-soul, they think of a form of rhythmic soul music that came to its highest prominence in the 1970s. There's some of that on this 16-song compilation, but it's more a scattershot anthology of woman-sung soul of various shades from the mid-'60s to the early '80s, rather than a compilation of woman-sung funk. Of more concern than nitpicking over the accuracy of the title is the quality of the music, which veers from decent obscure 1960s soul to so-so disco. It's too little-known to be a best-of overview of any sort, and too arbitrary in its selection to be considered a top-shelf collection of below-the-radar vintage soul by female artists. Instead, it comes off as an almost random assortment of tracks that fit into the shoebox, from Betty Wright's hit "Baby Sitter" and a few quality late-'60s New Orleans outings (Betty Harris' "Ride Your Pony" and Zilla Mayes' Allen Toussaint-penned "All I Want Is You") to Mavis Staples' 1977 disco-funk crossover "Chocolate City" to Linda Clifford's 1980 remake of "I Had a Talk With My Man." The soul oldies really outshine the later and tamer disco-ish outings by the likes of Sylvia Striplin and Ethel Beatty, and Irma Thomas' live 1976 cover of "Lady Marmalade" does credit neither to the vastly superior LaBelle original nor to Thomas' own formidable talents. There are some good oddities here and there that you'll have a hard time tracking down on the average soul compilation, like Linda Jones' super-dramatic 1965 ballad "Fugitive from Love," Ann Sexton's "You're Gonna Miss Me" (which sounds like it would have fit comfortably onto the Stax release schedule in the early '70s, though it came out on a different label), the Jones Girls' "If You Don't Start Nothing" (which is like hearing a Jackson 5 tune sung by a female group), Betty Davis' jazzy "Hangin' Out in Hollywood" (by an ex-wife of Miles Davis), and Betty Everett's rendition of "I'm Gonna Be Ready" (a fine Van McCoy ballad). But the quality isn't high enough, nor the focus consistent enough, to appeal strongly to either the general soul fan or the specialist soul collector, making it something of a mystery as to whom this compilation was geared.

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