Okay everyone... it's time to get schooled. Old Skool, that is. And I do mean everyone, you Mods and Rockers out there. Hey Rappers and Hip-Hoppers — if it's good enough for GrandMaster Flash, you can bet it'll do you right. Techno-heads, get back here. Don't make me take your electronica toys away, you'll want to know about this too.
There's a new CD Box Set in town, goes by the name of What It Is! Funky Soul And Rare Grooves (1967-1977) and you need to go out and get this mutha. Put out by those fine folks at Rhino Records, who know a thing or two about a thing or two, this four CD collection is the definitive in summing up an entire decade of the best Funk and Soul music around. Sure, you'll find some of the biggest names out there like Earth, Wind and Fire, The Commodores, Curtis Mayfield, Aretha Franklin, and Wilson Pickett in this set. But you are also going to learn about a lot of artists that you probably haven't heard about before, but should have because there was a lot of talent out there that just never got the attention it deserved.
When I say learn, by the way, that's exactly what I mean. It wasn't enough for Rhino Records to just clump a bunch of music together and throw it out there. What It Is! is a total packaged dream-come-true for collectors, aficionados, and newbies alike. Since the majority of the artists featured in the set never made it to the full record album release stage, the box itself is fashioned after the seven inch, 45-RPM vinyl form most found themselves relegated to. Like the many jewels that the songlist contributes to this cause, the enclosed booklet is a gem unto itself.
Not content to just list standard liner note info like naming group members, each song is given it's own space. These are where the nuggets of trivia (solid) gold are gathered. Where else would you find out about the many facets of Sylvester "Sly" Stone besides his Family Stone claim to fame? You might have known that he produced some fine grooves for other artists. But what about the fact that he also recorded under different names, to get around the restrictions of his major label contracts at the time? What It Is! will tell you more about that and even better, let you hear some of those tunes.