Cold Heat: Heavy Funk Rarities 1968-1974 - V/A LP

(Now-Again Records, 2004)

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"Now-Again Records, run by hip-hop label Stones Throw manager Egon, does release some new material, but it is dedicated to finding and reissuing the music from both obscure and more celebrated funk artists of the 1960s and '70s. 2001's The Funky 16 Corners reintroduced some of the lost names of the genre to the world, and Cold Heat: Heavy Funk Rarities 1968-1974, Vol. 1 is a follow-up to that, with, as stated in the title, tracks that most people have never heard before, and that would otherwise be nearly impossible to find. Luckily, in this case "rare" doesn't also mean "bad." Egon went to great length to find the master tapes of these tracks (many of which were the B-sides to the artists' less-obscure releases), and when needed, edited different versions together himself, so the sound quality is superb, as is the music itself. Probably due to the fact that he is also a DJ, Egon focuses on songs that are rhythm-heavy. Vocals, if they even exist, generally consist of short, repeated phrases that interact with the horn parts (the two notable exceptions being the Aristocrats Organization's "Don't Go," featuring soul vocalist Linda Blakely, and Leon Michison's nearly rapped verses on "Street Scene"). Instead, the focus is absolutely given to the groove, the beat, and almost all the songs have a breakdown where the rhythm section -- the tinny guitar, the frenzied drums, the syncopated bass -- is allowed to show off its chops. And while everything definitely falls within the deep funk realm, influences vary from psychedelic soul (like in "Loaded to the Gills" by Michael Liggins & the Supersouls) to blues (in "Cold Heat" by Lil' Lavair & the Fabulous Jades) to rock (in the instrumental version of "Drugs Ain't Cool" by Ebony Rhythm Band, the house band for the Indianapolis-based LAMP Records during the label's golden years). It's a good album, with a lot of talent, and a lot of great music that has been lost in dusty record crates for years, all of which is funky and soulful enough to make even the sternest of listeners shake his hips." - Marisa Brown for AllMusic