Collection: Essential Soul & Funk Albums

R&B (Rhythm & Blues) is a form of Black American music which began in the 1940's and evolved into Soul, Funk, and Disco. The music spectrum which grew out of this initial sound was also instrumental in the creation of Rock, Hip-Hop, House, and contemporary pop music. Early R&B was an offshoot of Blues, Jump Blues, and Boogie Woogie with an emphasis on upbeat polyrhythms. Many of these early artists like Fats Domino, Little Richard, and Bo Diddley also made the earliest Rock & Roll music. In the early 60's, as the the American civil rights movement picked up and blues based Rock & Roll was popularized, the term R&B fell out of fashion and was replaced by Soul. By the late 60's Funk had morphed out of Soul and within a few years Disco followed. In the 70's the music industry began using R&B as an umbrella genre term for R&B, Soul, and Funk. James Brown is a key influential figure in this spectrum not only because of his popularity during the transition from R&B to Soul and his black empowerment lyrics, but because he is widely recognized as the starting point for Funk. His tight interlocking grooves have been sampled more than any other source as an essential element of thousands of Hip-Hop, Breakbeat, and Drum & Bass tracks. Back to the beginning, the early sounds of R&B and Soul were released as 7" singles with the biggest names getting full LP releases. Motown Records released the polished pop version of Soul, while labels like Stax/Volt and Atlantic released more raw Blues-oriented or Jazz influenced Soul. Popular early Soul artists include Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Ben E. King, Solomon Burke, Aretha Franklin, The Supremes, Temptations, Marvin Gaye, and The Impressions. Curtis Mayfield left the Impressions and began a solo career which, like James Brown, would perfectly encapsulate the transition from Soul to Funk. Other essential funk groups include Sly and the Family Stone, The Meters, Kool and the Gang, Isley Brothers, Undisputed Truth, Ohio Players. The P-Funk sound of George Clinton/Parliament/Funkadelic blended psychedelic Rock, Jazz, and Funk together to create a new sound that influenced hundreds of acts to follow, all the way to west coast Hip-Hop sounds of the late 1980's. In the early 70's David Mancuso's The Loft parties were the roots of the Disco sound. He played a variety of sounds from Philly Soul like Harold Melvin to Jazz Funk like Dexter Wansel, lengthening and blending songs with the aid of two turntables for a continuous mix aimed at the dancers. Mancuso, producer Tom Moulton, and DJ Larry Levan helped shape the true sound of Disco, along with labels like Salsoul, West End, and Prelude. Pop Disco like the Bee-Gees, as well as the Saturday Night Fever craze, created a brief fad attempting to capitalize on a watered down accessible "disco" formula. By the end of the 70's electronic music began influencing Funk and Disco to create Italo, Electro, Boogie, and eventually House music. This collection features just a small number of essential music in the R&B family.- Scott Boutin