Various Artists : Philadelphia Roots

Another great Soul Jazz compilation

A rash statement it may seem, but there has yet to be a mediocre compilation released on Soul Jazz. These archaeologists of old reggae, R&B, funk, soul and Latin music should be fêted in dancehalls the nation over for their sterling work re-releasing reams of obscure yet sensational music.

There’s not a lot here for the Slipknot, fan, true. But ‘Philadelphia Roots’ is another killer collection, one that’ll segue nicely out of ‘New Orleans Funk’ (their previous compendium) on the block party CD player.

The facts are these: the largely instrumental soul and R&B played in Philadelphia in the 1960s was really good and, intriguingly, went on to mutate into New York disco, according to the detailed sleeve notes here. Meanwhile, we know that Dexy’s Midnight Runners

used to cover Cliff Noble & Co’s ‘The Horse’, the genre’s runaway smash hit of 1968, and that De

La Soul sampled ‘I Likes To Do

It’ by The People’s Choice on ‘Tread Water’.

Yet despite the richness of

the music’s many contexts, it’s

the irrepressible swing of bands like Brenda And The Tabulations, and the brassy angst of men

like The Fantastic Johnny C that makes this mash-up of organs

and orchestras so exceptional.

As the Panic Buttons groovily put it, ‘O Wow’.

Kitty Empire