Tuesday, 19 August 2014

"What It Is! Funky Soul And Rare Grooves From The Vaults Of Atlantic, Atco & Warner Bros. Records 1969-1977" by VARIOUS (2006 Rhino 4CD Box Set) - A Review by Mark Barry...






"…Glide In My Stride And A Dip In My Hip…"
  
This October 2006 Various Artists Rhino Box Set of 4CDs on Rhino R2 77635 (Barcode 081227763527) received packaging accolades for its tastily presented 91-tracks (even won an award) but it appears little else. A normally voracious Soul-buying community just didn't seem to notice "What It Is! Funky Soul and Rare Grooves..." or indeed even care. Perhaps its rustic cigar-box look confused or the track list page on the rear that kept falling off or so many artist names you've never heard of...maybe all of it just put people off. Well I think a reassessment is in order - because this American 4CD Soul & Funk Box Set is a proper belter...

The best way to show the diversity and genius of "What It Is! Funky Soul And Rare Grooves From The Vaults Of Atlantic, Atco & Warner Bros. Records 1969-1977" by VARIOUS ARTISTS is to give a detailed track list:

Disc 1 (cover photo is The Commodores), 27 tracks, 76:23 minutes:
1. Spreadin' Honey - THE WATTS 103rd ST. RHYTHM BAND (1967 single, Keymen 108)
2. Soul Finger - BAR-KAYS (1967 single, Volt 148)
3. The Shadow Of Your Smile - BROTHER JACK McDUFF (1967 LP "Tobacco Road", Atlantic 1472)
4. Gangster Of Love (Parts 1 & 2) - JIMMY NORMAN (1968 Two-Part single, Josie 994)
5. The Memphis Train - RUFUS THOMAS (1968 single, Stax 250)
6. Get Out Of My Life Woman - GRASSELLA OLIPHANT (1967 LP "The Grass Is Greener", Atlantic 1494)
7. Live Right Now - EDDIE HARRIS (1968 single edit, Atlantic 2561)
8. Pig Snoots, Part 1 - NATURAL BRIDGE BUNCH (1968 single, Atco 6628)
9. Soul Sound System - THE FREEDOM SOUNDS feat WAYNE HENDERSON (1968 LP "Soul Sound System", Atlantic 1512)
10. Snatching It Back - CLARENCE CARTER (1969 single, Atlantic 2605)
11. Stoned Soul - ARTIE CHRISTOPHER (1968 single, Atlantic 2573)
12. Getting The Corners - THE T.S.U. TORNADOES (1968 single, Atlantic 2579)
13. Sexy Coffee Pot - TONY ALVON & THE BELAIRS (1969 single, Atlantic 2632)
14. Don't Come Around Here Anymore - MARK PUTNEY (1969 single, Atlantic 2617)
15. Keep On Dancing - THE COMMODORES (1969 single, Atlantic 2633)
16. Right On Brother - Part 1 - THE SOUTHSHORE COMMISSION (1969 single, Atlantic 2684)
17. Pop. Popcorn Children - ELDRIDGE HOLMES (1969 single, Atco 6701)
18. It's Your Thing - COLD GRITS (1969 single, Atco 6707)
19. It's All In Your Mind - SOUL ANGELS (1969 single, Josie 1002)
20. Funky John - JOHNNY CAMERON & THE CAMERONS (1969 single, Atlantic 2734)
21. Help Me Make Up My Mind - JOYCE JONES (1969 single, Atco 6681)
22. Rock Me Baby - LOU JOHNSON (1969 LP "Sweet Southern Soul", Cotillion 9008)
23. Sing A Simple Song - THE NOBLE KNIGHTS (1969 single, Cotillion 44030)
24. Do You Dig It - TITUS TURNER (1969 single, Josie 1012)
25. Funky Canyon - PHIL MOORE Jr. (1969 LP "Right On", Atlantic 1530)
26. Jan Jan - THE FABULOUS COUNTS (1969 LP "Jan Jan", Cotillion 9011)
27. Tampin - THE RHINE OAKS [uncredited are The Meters and Allen Toussaint] (1969 single, Atco 6724)

Disc 2 (cover photo is Curtis Mayfield), 21 tracks, 74:10 minutes:
1. Gossip - VYRIL NEVILLE (1970 single, Josie 1014)
2. Somebody In The World For You - THE MIGHTY HANNIBAL (1968 single, Loma 2093)
3. Stanga - LITTLE SISTER (1970 single, Stone Flower 9001)
4. Jumpin' Jack Flash - ANANDA SHANKAR (1970 single, Reprise 6398)
5. The Embryo - BRUTE FORCE 1970 (1970 LP "Brute Force" on Embryo 522)
6. Sookie Sookie - DON COVAY and THE JEFFERSON LEMON BLUES BAND (1970 single, Atlantic 2742)
7. Right On - CLARENCER WHEELER & THE ENFORCERS (1970 LP `Doin' What We Wanna" on Atlantic 1551)
8. (Don't Worry) If There's A Hell Below We're All Going To Go - CURTIS MAYFIELD (1970 single, Curtom/Buddah 1955)
9. Stepping Stones - JOHNNY HARRIS (1970 UK LP "Movements" on Warner Brothers WS 3002)
10. I'm Just Like You - 6IX [Sly & The Family Stone using pseudonym] (1970 single, Stone Flower 9002)
11. Funky Thing - Part 1 - THE UNEMPLOYED (1970 single, Cotillion 44085)
12. Messie Bessie - SHIRLEY SCOTT (1970 LP "Something" on Atlantic 1561)
13. Fairchild - WILLIE WEST (1970 single, Josie 1019)
14. Cold Bear - THE GATORS (1970 single, Atco 6870)
15. I Can't Get Next To You - MONGO SANTAMARIA (1970 LP "Feelin' Alright" on Atlantic 8252)
16. Feelin' Alright - LULU (1970 LP "New Routes" on Atco 310)
17. Soul Bowl MEMPHIS HORNS (1970 LP "Memphis Horns" on Cotillion 9014)
18. Tuane - HAMMER (1970 LP "Hammer" on San Francisco 203)
19. Take It Off - Part II - JOHNNY TOLBERT and DE THANGS (1970 single, Atlantic 2757)
20. Seeds Of Life - HARLEM RIVER DRIVE feat Eddie Palmieri & Jimmy Norman (1971 LP "Harlem River Drive" on Roulette 3004)
21. Engine No. 9 [Edit] - WILSON PICKETT (1970 single, Atlantic 2765)

Disc 3 (cover photo is Little Richard), 21 tracks, 77:40 minutes:
1. Hard Times - BABY HUEY & THE BABY SITTERS (1971 single, Curtom 1962)
2. What So Never The Dance - Part 1 & 2 - HOUSE GUESTS [pseudonym for Bootsy Collins] (1971 single, House Guests 28205)
3. Headless Heroes - EUGENE McDANIELS (1971 LP "Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse" on Atlantic 8281)
4. Spinning Wheel - WADE MARCUS (1971 LP "A New Era" on Cotillion 9043)
5. Bad Tune - EARTH, WIND & FIRE (1971 LP "Earth, Wind & Fire" on Warner Brothers 1905)
6. Mr. Cool - RASPUTIN'S STASH (1971 LP "Rasputin's Stash" on Cotillion 9046)
7. Don't Cha Hear Me Callin' To Ya - JUNIOR MANCE (1971 LP "With A Lotta Help From My Friends" on Atlantic 1562)
8. Hang On In There - THE STOVALL SISTERS (1971 single, Reprise 1028)
9. Funky Nassau - Part II - THE BEGINNING OF THE END (1971 single B-side, Alston 4595)
10. Whatever's Fair - MARK HOLDER & THE POSITIVES (1972 single, Cotillion 44147)
11. Face It - ED ROBINSON (1971 single B-side to "Temptation's `Bout To Get Me", Atco 6812)
12. Wah-Wah Man - YOUNG-HOLT UNLIMITED (1971 LP "Born Again" on Cotillion 18004)
13. Rock Steady (Alternate Mix) - ARETHA FRANKLIN (Previously Unreleased)
14. Won't Nobody Listen - BLACK HAZE EXPRESS (1971 single, Clintone 005)
15. Goin' Down - ALLEN TOUSSAINT (1972 LP "Life, Love And Faith" on Reprise 2062)
16. Suavecito {Edit] - MALO (1972 single edit, Warner Brothers 7559)
17. You Gotta Know Whatcha Doin' - CHARLES WRIGHT (1972 single, Warner Brothers 7630)
18. Mo Jo Hanna - TAMI LYNN (1972 LP "Love Is Here And Now You're Gone" on Cotillion 9052)
19. Ridin' Thumb - KING CURTIS (1972 LP "Everybody's Talkin'" on Atco 385)
20. Almendra - MACONDO (1972 LP "Macondo" on Atlantic 7234)
21. Nuki Suki - LITTLE RICHARD (1972 single, Reprise 1130)

Disc 4 (cover photo is Black Heat), 22 tracks, 78:50 minutes:
1. Getting Uptown (To Get Down) - UNITED 8 (1972 single, Atlantic 2896)
2. 8 Days On The Road - HOWARD TATE (1972 LP "Howard Tate" on Atlantic 8303)
3.Moon Shadow [Edit] - LABELLE (1972 LP "Moon Shadow" on Warner Brothers 2618. The album has a `Full Length Version' - the `Edit' presented here first appeared on the 1997 compilation "Something Silver" on Warner Archives 46359)
4. Let It Crawl - SOCIETY'S BAG (1972 single, Warner Brothers 7622)
5. Wanoah - BLACK HEAT (1972 LP "Black Heat" on Atlantic 7237)
6. If It Was Good Enough For Daddy - CLARENCE REID (1973 LP "Running Water" on Alston 7027)
7. Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky - CLAUDIA LENNEAR (1973 LP "Phew!" on Warner Brothers 2654)
8. Cosmic Sea - MYSTIC MOODS (1973 single, Warner Brothers 7686)
9. Kissing My Love - COLD BLOOD (featuring Lydia Pense) (1973 LP "Thriller!" on Reprise 2130)
10. Flute Thing [Edit] - SEATRAIN (1973 single, Warner Brothers 7696)
11. Chug Chug Chug-A-Lug (Push `n' Shove) - Part II - THE METERS (1972 single, Reprise 1135 B-side)
12. Funky To The Bone - FREDDI/HENCHI & THE SOUL SETTERS (1973 single (Promo-only), Reprise 1175)
13. Try It Again - BOBBY BYRD (1973 single, Kwanza 7703)
14. Teasin' - CORNELL DUPREE (1974 LP "Teasin'" on Atlantic 7311)
15. (Everybody Wanna Get Rich) Rite Away - DR. JOHN (1974 LP `"Desitively Bonnaroo" on Atco 7043)
16. Chicken Heads - OSCAR BROWN, Jr. (1974 LP "Fresh" on Atlantic 18106)
17. Rien Na Va Plus - FUNK FACTORY (1975 LP "Funk Factory" on Atco 116)
18. Cajun Moon [Edit] - HERBIE MANN [Vocal by CISSY HOUSTON] (1976 single, Atlantic 3343)
19. Improve - DARROW FLETCHER (1977 single, Atco 7083)
20. Riding High - FAZE-O (1978 LP "Riding High" on She 740)
21. Four Play [Edit] - FRED WESLEY & THE HORNY HORNS (1977 single, Atlantic 3408 (Promo))
22. California Dreamin' [Edit] - EDDIE HAZEL (1977 single, Warner Brothers 8425)

Housed in a thick cigar-shaped hard card box (with a loose outer paper wrapper that lists the tracks) - inside are 4 card sleeves centred in a hollow - each with photos as advised above. Compiled by MATT ABELS and MASON WILLIAMS with REGGIE COLLINS - the 84-page booklet is superlative - featuring an Introduction by OLIVER WANG and track-by-track liner notes (with discography details) on each song. The info digs deep into the history of the tune and the artists and only on a rare occasion is there nothing - like Johnny Tolbert and De Thangs (no one seems to know who he is). Classy photos from the Michael Ochs Archive festoon each page and even though the 4CDs are primarily 7"-single driven - there's a two-page spread towards the end that collages together a fabulous display of those rare album covers (some complete with dollar stickers on them) while pages 80/81 sport a side-by-side rare 45s display. My only complaint about the booklet is that its sepia and not colour - but other than that - there's really informative reading in here for the label enthusiast.

On occasion in the past Rhino were accused of scrimping on track numbers on their compilations (60 minutes when there was room for 78 and more) - but as you can see from the playing times above - these CDs are chockers with goodies. And a quick glance at the Artists will reveal 'lots' of names seeing CD release for the first time and a large number of catalogue numbers on Atlantic and Atco 7" single being filled in for collectors. There's even a sensational 'Alternate Mix' of Aretha Franklin's "Rock Steady" on Disc 3 that sees the tune go all Psych towards the end. Remastered by Rhino's resident tape experts BILL INGLOT and DAN HERSCH - I'm glad to say the sound quality is incredible throughout - so full of life and presence - a top job done - especially given the differing sources and time frames.

Disc 1 is filled with groovy American 45 cuts like "Sexy Coffee Pot" by Tony Alvon & The Belairs while an un-credited Meters go funk fantastic on "Tampin'" by The Rhine Oaks. Disc 2 is simply brilliant - opening with a fabulous triple whammy of unknowns - Cyril Neville, The Mighty Hannibal and Little Sister (lyrics from the Neville track title this review). The diversity extends to Lulu's cool cover of Dave Mason's "Feelin' Alright" (when he was with Traffic), the serious drum-funky instrumental "The Deacon" by Brute Force and the stunning "Tuane" by Hammer on San Francisco Records. "Tuane" sounds like the Brian Auger Oblivion Express doing a scat Latin-Fusion-Funk tune (this gem first turned up on the 2002 Atlantic compilation "Right On! Vol. 4").

Disc 2 also sports some very smart compiler choices - Ananda Shankar's hugely popular Sitar-cool rendition of The Rolling Stones 1968 classic "Jumping Jack Flash" - following by a long sought-after British vinyl rarity - "Stepping Stones" taken from the 1970 Johnny Harris flute-fusion LP "Movements" on Warner Brothers. Sly & The Family Stone turn in disguise once more as 6IX. Disc 3 boasts a stunning previously unreleased mix of Aretha's "Rock Steady" and an ultra-rare American 45 that costs real money on the obscure Clintone label by the militant group Black Haze Express. And again on Disc 4 - those clever choices - Labelle's funkified cover of Cat Stevens' "Moonshadow" segueing later into the synth fusion of "Riding High" by Faze-O. I love it all! The seriously sexy Claudia Lennear (reputed the inspiration behind "Brown Sugar" by The Rolling Stones) gets to do an Allen Toussaint workout on "Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky" with Ry Cooder and Spooner Oldham somewhere inside that 1973 mix. The seriously underrated Cold Blood had the raspy Janis Joplin vocals of Lydia Pense to boogie up the Bill Withers "Still Bill" classic "Kissing My Love" - while Herbie Mann's flute fusion transforms J.J. Cale's swamp ballad "Cajun Moon" into an entirely different hip animal. And on it goes...

It's true to say that if (like me) you own all the Volumes in the "Right On", "Natural High" and "Funk Drops" sets - you may have a large part of this. But those 8 or 9 discs will cost you the same and don't have the superlative liner notes supplied here - as well as that sheer 'dip in and discover something new every time you play it' feel that this superb Box Set gives you.

I'd argue that in a sea of reissues - this is one ship you should board. Stunning and then some...

7” SINGLES in Numerical Order with (Release Date) and Disc No. Track No:
"What It Is! Funky Soul And Rare Grooves From The Vaults Of Atlantic, Atco & Warner Bros. Records 1969-1977" by VARIOUS ARTISTS

Atco 6628 (1968) 1.7
Atco 6681 (1969) 1.21
Atco 6701 (1969) 1.17
Atco 6707 (1969) 1.18
Atco 6724 (1969) 1.27
Atco 6870 (1970) 2.14

Atlantic 2561 (1968) 1.7
Atlantic 2573 (1968) 1.11
Atlantic 2579 (1968) 1.12
Atlantic 2605 (1969) 1.10
Atlantic 2607 (1969) 1.18
Atlantic 2617 (1969) 1.14
Atlantic 2632 (1969) 1.13
Atlantic 2633 (1969) 1.15
Atlantic 2684 (1969) 1.16
Atlantic 2734 (1969) 1.20
Atlantic 2742 (1970) 2.6
Atlantic 2757 (1970) 2.19
Atlantic 2765 (1970) 2.21

Cotillion 44030 (1969) 1.23
Cotillion 44085 (1970) 2.11

Curtom/Buddah 1955 (1970) 2.8
Curtom 1962 (1971) 3.1

Houseguests 28205 (1971) 3.2

Josie 994 (1968) 1.4
Josie 1002 (1969) 1.19
Josie 1012 (1969) 1.24
Josie 1014 (1970) 2.1
Josie 1019 (1970) 2.13

Keymen 108 (1967) 1.1

Loma 2093 (1968) 2.2

Reprise 6398 (1970) 2.4

Stax 250 (1968) 1.5

Stone Flower 9001 (1970) 2.3
Stone Flower 9002 (1970) 2.10

Volt 148 (1967) 1.2 

This review is part of my SOUNDS GOOD Music Book Series. One of those titles is SOUL, FUNK and JAZZ FUSION - Exceptional CD Remasters - an E-Book with over 245 entries and 2100 e-Pages - purchase on Amazon and search any artist or song (click the link below). Huge amounts of info taken directly from the discs (no cut and paste crap). 


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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

INDEX - Artists, Albums, Record Labels, CD Remaster Engineers, Liner Notes Authors, Links etc