Various Artists

The Sound of Funk, Vols. 1-10 [Series]

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Assembled by the U.K. label Goldmine/Soul Supply, The Sound of Funk is the most exhaustive deep funk compilation series on the market, spanning a total of ten volumes containing 16 tracks apiece. The vast majority of this material is taken from incredibly rare 45 rpm singles, often by groups too obscure to have recorded a full-length LP. It's a collector's dream, but these comps don't play like dusty archival pieces -- the music is teeming with energy and enthusiasm, no matter how derivative of its influences it may be. Sure, there are plenty of James Brown knockoffs, but they're fun James Brown knockoffs, and if you're hard-pressed to name a style of music more infectious than funk, this stuff will grow on you at an alarming rate. It doesn't necessarily take great songwriting to make a great funk single, just a great groove and a little inspiration. The seemingly endless supply of obscure bands who could capture those ingredients is what makes The Sound of Funk such an addictive listen for devoted funk fans, even if they've never heard of the songs or artists present (and most people haven't). There's a whole lost chapter of grassroots musical history here, waiting to be rediscovered. At ten volumes, and with no liner notes, The Sound of Funk isn't the best introduction to deep funk; for that, go to The Funky 16 Corners or one of Keb Darge's more concise series (Legendary Deep Funk or Funk Spectrum are both excellent). But this series was the original chronicle; once you're hooked, snap up as many as you can while they're still available.