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Chuck Brown 

The Best of Chuck Brown (Raw Venture)

If Chuck Brown had made nothing but "Bustin' Loose," his legacy would still be assured. The leader of DC go-go/funk outfit the Soul Searchers earned his place in the pantheon with the rump-shaking classic, whose hook ("I feel like bustin' loose") was recently interpolated into Nelly's tawdry "Hot in Herre." Brown's finest hour showcases everything that's great about funk: epic buildups, fat bass lines, pokey horns, strident drums, percussive breakdowns, chicken-scratch guitar, and Brown's fired-up vocals ("Gimmedebridgenow! Gimmedebridgenow!"). But as this new double-CD set shows, the bandleader was no mere one-hit wonder.

Striking a perfect balance between the hardcore go-go beats of Trouble Funk and the sweaty R&B of James Brown, Brown's music promised liberation on the dance floor ("We the People"), addressed complicated economic principles ("We Need Some Money"), and urged people to party harder than they ever had before ("Blow Your Whistle"). Go-go versions of "Misty," "Day-O," and "Stormy Monday" revel in Brown's affinity for classic jazz, and while you'd have to be a die-hard fan to prefer his version of "Fiesta" to R. Kelly's, this set sports enough elasticity, bounce, and Jheri Curl shine to warrant a space on your CD rack.

More by Eric K. Arnold

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