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"What It Is! Funky Soul and Rare Grooves (1967-1977)" Spotlights Funk's Foundation; Listen Here

September 26th, 2006 4:37pm EDT
What It IsRight on. Right on. Nothing puts a dip in your hip and a glide in your stride quite like a gritty funk groove that hits the beat hard on the one. The polyrhythmic kissing cousin of classic soul and R&B, funk's sinuous slap-bass lines and booming kick drums from its heyday in the late '60s through the late '70s went on to inspire a generation of hip-hop heads. Rhino rocks funk's foundation with a four-disc collection of rump-shaking beats and hard-to-find pimpalicious jams that don't fake the funk. What It Is! Funky Soul and Rare Grooves (1967-1977) will be available October 3.

This compilation brings together 91 slabs of righteously funky grooves taken from the vaults of Atlantic, Atco, and Warner Bros. Records. Arranged chronologically, What It Is! contains more than five hours of wicked rhythms, badass clavinet, incendiary horn blasts, libidinous wah-wah guitar, and chirping Hammond B3.

What It Is! celebrates some of the genre's biggest names with the late Wilson Pickett's "Engine Number 9;" "I'm Just Like You," a song recorded by Sly Stone under the pseudonym 6ix, and "Stanga" a tune he wrote and produced for Little Sister (which included Vaetta Stewart, Sly's little sister); and Earth Wind & Fire's "Bad Tune" from the acclaimed group's debut. The boxed set also includes tracks by Little Richard, Allen Toussaint, The Commodores, Curtis Mayfield, Labelle, P-Funk guitar virtuoso Eddie Hazel, and The Meters, who can be heard with Cyril Neville on the classic "Gossip," performing undercover as The Rhine Oaks on "Tampin'" and under their own moniker for "Chug Chug Chug-A-Lug (Push And Shove) Part 2."

What It IsThe collection also features an unreleased, alternate version of "Rock Steady" recorded in 1970 by Aretha Franklin. One of three versions recorded during the session, Franklin is backed by her red-hot studio and touring band, King Curtis and The Kingpins. With a final section that slows to a stop before disappearing in reverb, the version included here differs significantly from the previously available versions.

Teeming with rare funk tracks, What It Is! is a dream come true for groove gurus who spend hours scouring crates of used vinyl in search of lost classics. Among the rarified gems featured are tracks such as "Improve" by Darrow Fletcher, "Cold Bear" by The Gaturs, "Funky To The Bone" by Freddie/Henchi and The Soul Setters, "Sexy Coffee Pot" by Tony Alvon and The Belairs, "It's Your Thing" by Cold Grits, "Gangster Of Love (Pts 1 & 2)" by Jimmy Norman, "Funky John" by Johnny Cameron and The Camerons, "You Gotta Know Whatcha Doin'" by Charles Wright, and The Mystic Moods' interstellar "Cosmic Sea."

Wilson PickettAlthough much of the music featured on What It Is! flew under the radar, many of the break beats and riffs will sound familiar thanks to hip-hop DJs and producers who - over the years - have sampled several songs featured in this compilation in tracks from Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Beastie Boys, Tupac Shakur, and The Notorious B.I.G., to name a few.

What It Is! continues Rhino's tradition of deluxe, imaginative packaging with the four discs nestled in a hand-assembled clamshell box. The set includes liner notes by Wax Poetics contributor Oliver Wang, plus detailed track-by-track commentary and testimonials by such heavyweights as Fred Wesley, Howard Tate, Hank Shocklee (Public Enemy), Bootsy Collins, DJ Pooh (Tupac, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube), George Porter Jr. (The Meters), Clarence Reid, Chuck Rainey, and others featured in a stunning booklet with rare vintage photos.

What It Is! Funky Soul and Rare Grooves (1967-1977) Track Listing:

Disc One
1. The Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band - "Spreadin' Honey"
2. Bar-Kays - "Soul-Finger"
3. Brother Jack McDuff - "The Shadow Of Your Smile"
4. Jimmy Norman - "Gangster Of Love (Parts I & II)"
5. Rufus Thomas - "The Memphis Train"
6. Grassella Oliphant - "Get Out Of My Life Woman"
7. Eddie Harris - "Live Right Now"
8. Natural Bridge Bunch - "Pig Snoots, Part I"
9. The Freedom Sounds featuring Wayne Henderson - "Soul Sound System"
10. Clarence Carter - "Snatching It Back"
11. Artie Christopher - "Stoned Soul"
12. The T.S.U. Tornadoes - "Getting The Corners"
13. Tony Alvon & The Belairs - "Sexy Coffee Pot"
14. Mark Putney - "Don't Come Around Here Anymore"
15. The Commodores - "Keep On Dancing"
16. The Southshore Commission - "Right On Brother-Part 1"
17. Eldridge Holmes - "Pop, Popcorn Children"
18. Cold Grits - "It's Your Thing"
19. Soul Angels - "It's All In Your Mind"
20. Johnny Cameron & The Camerons - "Funky John"
21. Joyce Jones - "Help Me Make Up My Mind"
22. Lou Johnson - "Rock Me Baby"
23. The Noble Knights - "Sing A Simple Song"
24. Titus Turner - "Do You Dig It"
25. Phil Moore Jr. - "Funky Canyon"
26. The Fabulous Counts - "Jan Jan"
27. The Rhine Oaks - "Tampin'"

Disc Two
1. Cyril Neville - "Gossip"
2. The Mighty Hannibal - "Somebody In The World For You"
3. Little Sister - "Stanga"
4. Anada Shankar - "Jumpin' Jack Flash"
5. Brute Force - "The Deacon"
6. Don Covay & The Jefferson Lemon Blues Band - "Sookie Sookie"
7. Clarence Wheeler & The Enforcers - "Right On"
8. Curtis Mayfield - "(Don't Worry) If There's A Hell Below We're All Going To Go"
9. Johnny Harris - "Stepping Stones"
10. 6ix - "I'm Just Like You"
11. The Unemployed - "Funky Thing-Part 1"
12. Shirley Scott - "Messie Bessie"
13. Willie West - "Fairchild"
14. The Gaturs - "Cold Bear"
15. Mongo Santamaria - "I Can't Get Next To You"
16. Lulu - "Feelin' Alright"
17. Memphis Horns - "Soul Bowl"
18. Hammer - "Tuane"
19. Johnny Tolbert & De Thangs - "Take It Off-Part II"
20. Harlem River Drive featuring Eddie Palmieri & Jimmy Norman - "Seeds Of Life"
21. Wilson Pickett - "Engine Number 9" (Single Version)

Disc Three
1. Baby Huey & The Baby Sitters - "Hard Times"
2. Houseguests - "What So Never The Dance-Pt. 1 & 2"
3. Eugene McDaniels - "Headless Heroes"
4. Wade Marcus - "Spinning Wheel"
5. Earth, Wind & Fire - "Bad Tune"
6. Rasputin's Stash - "Mr. Cool"
7. Junior Mance - "Don't Cha Hear Me Calling To Ya"
8. The Stovall Sisters - "Hang On In There"
9. The Beginning Of The End - "Funky Nassau (Part II)"
10. Mark Holder & The Positives - "Whatever's Fair"
11. Ed Robinson - "Face It"
12. Young-Holt Unlimited - "Wah Wah Man"
13. Aretha Franklin - "Rock Steady" (Alternate Mix) (Previously Unissued)
14. Black Haze Express - "Won't Nobody Listen"
15. Allen Toussaint - "Goin' Down"
16. Malo - "Suavecito"
17. Charles Wright - "You Gotta Know Whatcha Doin'"
18. Tami Lynn - "Mo Jo Hanna"
19. King Curtis - "Ridin' Thumb"
20. Macondo - "Almendra"
21. Little Richard - "Nuki Suki"

Disc Four
1. United 8 - "Getting Uptown (To Get Down)"
2. Howard Tate - "8 Days On The Road"
3. Labelle - "Moon Shadow" (Edit)
4. Society's Bag - "Let It Crawl"
5. Black Heat - "Wanaoh"
6. Clarence Reid - "If It Was Good Enough For Daddy"
7. Claudia Lennear - "Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky"
8. The Mystic Moods - "Cosmic Sea"
9. Cold Blood - "Kissing My Love"
10. Seatrain - "Flute Thing" (45 Edit)
11. The Meters - "Chug Chug Chug-A-Lug (Push And Shove) Part II"
12. Freddi/Henchi & The Soul Setters - "Funky To The Bone"
13. Bobby Byrd - "Try It Again"
14. Cornell Dupree - "Teasin'"
15. Dr. John - "(Everybody Wanna Get Rich) Rite Away"
16. Oscar Brown, Jr. - "Chicken Heads"
17. Funk Factory - "Rien Ne Va Plus"
18. Herbie Mann - "Cajun Moon" (Single Version)
19. Darrow Fletcher - "Improve"
20. Faze-O - "Riding High"
21. Fred Wesley & The Horny Horns - "Four Play" (Promo Edit)
22. Eddie Hazel - "California Dreamin'" (Edit)

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