Funkdamentals: Mind Blowin' Funk Hits
The Right Stuff Records, 1999
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/17/1999
If music can move your spirit and soul, then it's definitely done its job. But if music can also make you get up and groove in your own unique way, only then can music's true power be felt. The Deadheads who swayed along in time with the music of Jerry Garcia and crew understand this. Anyone who has gotten locked into some solid funk likewise knows what I'm talking about.
In that spirit, Funkdamentals: Mind Blowin' Funk Hits seeks to capture the listener and put them into a 70-minute groove-a-thon that refuses to relent. While some of the selections aren't always the best or most obvious choices, this is still a great disc that is sure to liven up your millenium party.
Now, I don't claim to be an expert on funk, or many of the groups who appear on this collection. But I know enough about the genre from both my life's experiences and from some of the "greatest hits" compilations these bands have put out to know what is a good definition of funk. With that in mind... is K.C. & The Sunshine Band really the best example one could think of when the word "funk" comes to mind? I'd be more inclined to leave them off this collection, and label them a "disco" band. But that's just my opinion.
It would not be a true funk party if George Clinton and "Atomic Dog" didn't get things started. Still quite possibly Clinton's best known song, it remains a real groove machine even today, and is a track that other funk artists have been trying to emulate since its release. Likewise, "Fantastic Voyage" from Lakeside is a track whose stripes were earned long ago, and is a welcome addition to this set.
On that note, I have to wonder why "Sun Is Here" was selected for Sun, and not "Wanna Make Love (Flick My Bic)" - a song that I think defines this band much better, especially with the talkbox effects. And while Kool & The Gang definitely belong in this company, why was "Hollywood Swinging" chosen? Finally, where's the ultimate funkster - the Commodores's "Brick House"?
At first, I was all set to argue that "Super Freak (Part I)" by Rick James belonged here in place of "Give It To Me Baby," but after giving this disc another listen, I realized that this track has even a better groove than "Super Freak," and is a much better selection. Try and not get locked into the rhythm section that is laid down. Can't do it, can you? Neither could I.
There are a few artists on Funkdamentals: Mind Blowin' Funk Hits whom I had forgotten about. Cameo's "Word Up" is simply a kick-ass track, and I can't believe it had been so long since I last heard this song. Likewise, O'Bryan's "Lovelite" isn't a track I was familiar with, but quickly claims a stake as a track worthy of your attention.
Not everything on Funkdamentals: Mind Blowin' Funk Hits is a winner, unfortunately. Peter Brown's "Do You Wanna Get Funky With Me" and The Isley Brothers's "Live It Up (Pt. 1)" fail to live up to the high quality that the rest of this set has. And you could question the inclusion of Earth, Wind & Fire's "Boogie Wonderland," claiming it was a leftover from the disco era. I still kinda like this song, though I admit I don't like the bridge.
Any time I DJ a party, I look for a disc that's sure to get the masses out of their buffet-table chairs and on the dance floor to work off those fat-laden cocktail wieners. Funkdamentals: Mind Blowin' Funk Hits is going to be a must in my music arsenal this year, and is even just a great disc to kick back to at home. But don't be surprised if you find you can't keep your butt in the Barcalounger, and you're soon dancing in front of the stereo.