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Various Artists What it Is!: Funky Soul and Rare Grooves 1967-1977

  • Words: Ken Taylor
  • Label: Rhino
  • XLR8R Rating: 8/10

As musicologist Oliver Wang writes in his liner notes to What It Is!, "for every 'Sex Machine' or 'Flashlight' blowing up the charts, you had hundreds of smaller songs for whom 'airplay' rarely got better than hissing out of a rusted jukebox..." Therein lies the premise behind one of the hottest funk/soul comps to be released in years, a four-disc set mined from the deposits of Atlantic, Atco, and Warner Brothers Records between. Lesser-known soul giants like Clarence Carter (think "Strokin'," then listen to the gorgeous "Snatching it Back") and Artie Christopher share space with The Meters' heavy trunk funk and Eddie Hazel's inspired cover of "California Dreamin'," which combine to create a wondrous ride through one of American music's most overlooked eras. And with an 80-page guide through funk and soul's social and political grooves, plus a 25-piece 7-inch compendium package to follow, this box is a must-have for any '60s music fan.

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