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V/A - The Funky 16 Corners

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Artist: V/A

Album: The Funky 16 Corners

Label: Stones Throw

Review date: Mar. 31, 2002

The drums snap and sizzle like burgers on the grill on the first Saturday afternoon of April. The bass billows up from the speakers, burning your eyes and ears a tad but, at the same time, causing your stomach to growl lustfully and your fingers to rap the nearest hard surface in anticipation. The guitars buzz, rattle and slice like a lawnmower cutting the grass, spiking the atmosphere with an earthy bio-scent that flirts with the sun, teasing it just enough to keep it at the party an hour later than it had planned. Ladies and gentlemen, this old JB’s style funk could be the most inviting sound on this soft, wet orb. The Soul Fire/Desco keeps the flame burning brightly, at least as much as the neo-troglodytes on Bomp!/Voxx kept garage rock breathing during the late 20th Century. But nothing outshines the original funk sides that rippled the asses of Los Angeles, Indianapolis, New Orleans and all points east in the late 60’s and early 70’s, and The Funky 16 Corners provides as good a place to start collecting them as any.

Based around a soul-intoxicated road trip undertaken by producers Egon and Peanut Butter Wolf, on which they met, greeted and interviewed the cats behind 16 dusty slabs, this disc serves the music with a rich side dish of history. Surprise: The alternating spirited hedonism and spiritual uplift that kept these tunes bobbing was less a knack than a necessity. (See conutry, jazz, etc.) No pomo disembodiment or discombobulation from a wax-worshipping turntablist enfranchised enough to collect anything but scars, however tasteful or reverent such cut-and-paste might be, justifies neglecting the uncut emotions behind the straightforward originals. (Strange how one of the primary joys of listening to “old school” these days is hearing those constantly jacked samples in their original contexts. What an age!)

The comp backs up one mediator between the schools, Mixmaster Wolf of Breakestra’s, ancestral credentials: His grandma, Genie Jackson, was the braintrust behind LA’s Co-Real Artists, represented here by the socially aware and laugh-out-loud funny he said-she said musical skit “What About You (In The World Today).”

While it’s mostly instrumental, the set includes a few more spoken curiosities for the Irwin Chusid crowd, most notably two forgotten attempts to launch dance crazes: The Highlighters Band’s title track and The Rhythm Machine’s “The Kick,” a therapeutic step for those attempting to get off drugs.

By Emerson Dameron

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