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CD Review

 

 

VA - Bay Area Funk 2
Ubiquity Records
       If any one genre of music has reached a fever pitch among collectors and even the general public over the past few years it has been "the rare groove" and, by that, I mean obscure and unreleased soul/funk music. Music geeks and beatheads are chasing down obscure soul music even faster than rare psyche and freakfolk from the '60's. I mean, the past few months have been an eye-opener for me as I have started digging in to all of these "rare groove" comps and a whole passel of re-issues from obscure soul and funk bands. My mind has truly been opened. While the world has always been aware of the stellar soul from Motown, Stax, Hi Records and the like, I am sure most never realized there had been such a strong scene bubbling under the radar from 1965 to 1975. This is a great time for those seeking to expand their minds - so much is being unearthed by great labels and this compilation is one of the coolest I've seen.
       The tracks contained on this sampler, the second of two samplers featuring obscure soul and funk from California's Bay area and Oakland, proves how much great soul and funk there is lying in wait. When these tracks were recorded, R&B music in California was going through a transition. While records by long-time, well-known artists like Sugar Pie DeSanto and Little Joe Blue could still get airplay, a whole new bunch of bands and artists were popping up who excited the local deejays and were able to steal a little of the oh-so-precious airtime needed to get noticed. Not only were these new artists on major labels, but many of the greatest acts were on little regionals. Unlike today's stifled radio playlists, disc jockeys could play whatever they wanted to on their shows and these up and coming artists were able to get a decent amount of airtime to promote their gigs. Though most of these artists were never able to make it out of obscurity (except for Sugar Pie Desanto - who had a decent career and released a wonderful comeback album a couple of years ago) the quality of these songs is beyond reproach. Great deep grooves and wonderful soul music that compels you to dance. These are easily just as good as the hits we all know and love.
       One of the best things about this compilation is the liner notes. Fact-filled but brief, they manage to tell you just the right amount of info about the song and the artist without getting too cloying. I hate comps where there is little to no info about the artist or the songs, but also get annoyed when every burp and fart is revealed. These liner notes are some of the better ones. Very informative and a great aid for the more music nerdy among us. Believe me, you don't need them to enjoy this CD. In fact, your body might be moving to much for you to be able to focus on them anyway. I truly could not sit still while listening to this.
       People who will enjoy this album the most are music fanatics who love the funk and soul sounds from the late '60's and early '70's. Even obsessive beatheads and master funk-ologists who haunt record stores every day will not have heard about most of these deep grooves so there is plenty here to discover. Those into just having a dance party will find a lot to love here as well. They're just not making funk music like this anymore. I recommend picking this up as soon as possible so the dancing and grooving can commence! - Scott Homewood 

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