Sean Howe
October 20, 2006 AT 04:00 AM EDT

What it is! Funky Soul and Rare Grooves (1957-1977)

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Various Artists

We gave it an A-

A raiding of the Atlantic, Atco, and Warner vaults, What It Is! Funky Soul and Rare Grooves (1967-1977) features James Brown only in spirit. But you can hear the Godfather anytime; here, cherish embryonic recordings by later world-beaters (the Commodores; Earth, Wind & Fire) and Sly Stone’s blueprint (under the Prince-like pseudonym ”6ix”) for There’s a Riot Goin’ On. Even as greasy boogaloo gives way to polyrhythmic Cat Stevens covers, the four discs stave off the 4/4 behemoth of disco.

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