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The Best of the Funk Brothers: 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection
Funk Brothers
The Best of the Funk Brothers: 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection
Genres: Pop, R&B
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: Funk Brothers
Title: The Best of the Funk Brothers: 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Motown
Release Date: 2/3/2004
Album Type: Original recording remastered
Genres: Pop, R&B
Styles: Funk, Motown, Soul
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 602498617861, 0602498617861

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CD Reviews

Giving It Up For The Funk Brothers
T. C Lane | Marina, CA USA | 02/12/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Well, no, the Funk Brothers never released an album or single under that name, but as Earl Van Dyke & The Soul Brothers they released an album in 1965. Van Dyke was a keyboardist and the Soul Brothers were really the Funk Brothers. 5 tracks from that rare Motown release are included here. Basically, as detailed in Harry Weinger's excellent liner notes, the band "riffed" over their original backing tracks on such classics as "How Sweet It Is" and "Come See About Me". To be honest, with Van Dyke's keyboards playing a prominent role they veer closer to the sound of Booker T. & The MG's. There are 3 non-covers which are pretty good, and the CD ends with the backing tracks of "What's Going On" and "Papa Was A Rolling Stone." This is a good artifact of a great band. While not as essential as the classic Motown songs that they played on, it's good to have a catalog title with the Funk Brothers name front and center."
Admittedly a little short on Tracks, but Still an Essential
fetish_2000 | U.K. | 06/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Arguably one of the most unsung heroes in the Motown catalogue, The Funk Brothers were (along with "Booker T & The M.G.'s), one of the most talented, and rhythmically accomplished instrumental acts in the evolution of the R&B/Funk Motown sound. Providing the backing instrumentation of some of the Greatest Motown tracks ever produced ("Marvin Gaye's - I Heard it Through the Grapevine", Stevie Wonder's - I Was Made to Love her"), only confirmed that, had they been pushed more as more of a Studio band in their own right, rather than providing the jaw-dropping instrumentals for Motown singers, that they would have been a far better know group in their own right.

Legend goes, that the saying "Once The Funk Brothers had recorded the instrumental part of a song, it didn't matter who sang over it". Certainly rings true, when you hear their music. Moving easily between Southern R&B, Memphis Soul, R&B & Funk, they were masters at taking a rhythm or Groove, and building exceptionally well-composed arrangements around it. And this release brings together a handful of tracks (in this case "12 Tracks"), as a quick and easy reference point for the band. Although fairly slim in terms of the number of tracks included, there's no doubt that this is the sound of the group that were at the top of their game, and the release is something of a truly perfect entry point for first time listeners of The Funk Brothers, or merely Causal listeners that are familiar with their sound. But such is the brilliance of The Funk Brothers work and stellar performances that a one Disk overview, does fall painfully short of highlighting the considerable overall brilliance of this group. And they are a group that are simply crying out for a boxset of some description!! (such a boxset, does not exist). But to mark down this compilation purely because it couldn't possibly contain all their essential material is pointless, as this is intended as a beautifully compiled introduction to the group (which it is). And I have no hesitation in giving this budget priced compilation a 5 Star recommendation.

But for those of you that either (A) have sampled this release and would like to hear more of their work. (B) Would rather have something with substantially more tracks to wade through, or (C) Are familiar with their work and would like to jump straight in.....then I'd have to steer you in the direction of the finest available summary of the Funk Brothers work, the seminal: "Standing in the Shadows of Motown: (Deluxe Edition)", which is the greatest overview of one of Motown greatest bands. As this would be the ulitmate addition, for those keen to hear more of this Phenomenal bands work.
It's what's in the grooves that counts
Laurence Upton | Wilts, UK | 08/11/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Although they had played on thousands of records for Motown, until the documentary film Standing In The Shadows Of Motown in 2002 few had heard of the Funk Brothers by name, and even fewer knew the names of the master musicians who did so much to create the identity of Motown from the snake pit at the Hitsville Studio in Detroit throughout the sixties. Until Marvin Gaye insisted on having them credited on his album What's Going On in 1970, their names had apparently never even appeared on a Motown sleeve.

Names like bandleader and keyboard player Earl Van Dyke, bassist James Jamerson, guitarists Robert White, Joe Messina and Eddie Willis, and drummers Benny Benjamin, Pistol Allen and Uriel Jones, to mention a few, are gradually seeping into our consciousness as we backtrack through the mighty ever-expanding Motown archives.

Occasionally the band were let loose and allowed to add lead instruments over the backing tracks originally recorded for the various Motown singers, and in 1965 an album appeared by Earl Van Dyke and the Soul Brothers (Berry Gordy didn't approve the name Funk Brothers because of what he considered its improper connotations) called That Motown Sound.

The tracks were mostly led by Earl Van Dyke's Hammond organ, with extra guitar fills by Robert White or Joe Messina, and six of them are included on this Best Of, including All For You and I Can't Help Myself, which came out as singles in the UK and America respectively, with B-sides Too Many Fish In The Sea and How Sweet It Is. Given the 38 minute playing time, it is a shame space could not have been found for the rest of the album. Also, as the first five tracks come from the stereo version of the album, it is a pity that the single mono mix of I Can't Help Myself has been used.

Three other Earl Van Dyke singles are included in mono: Soul Stomp (1964), Six By Six (on which the Funk Brothers are joined by the six-piece Motown Brass)(1966) and Runaway Child, Running Wild (1969). Soul Stomp was a cover of a Contours song which wasn't released.

The Stingray is a funky workout taken from a 1970 Earl Van Dyke live album called The Earl Of Funk. Marvin Gaye's single What's Going On featured the instrumental backing track (with backing vocals) on the flip side, with Eli Fountain's memorable opening sax line, but sounds slightly incomplete, though it is a welcome inclusion as it is a first-time stereo mix. The final track is similarly the (mostly) instrumental B-side of the mighty Tempts' track Papa Was A Rolling Stone. This is the most recent recording on the record, having been made on 28 June 1972, though it remains sadly in mono, so for the full effect you need to turn to the near twelve minute version on their album Psychedelic Shack/All Directions or All Directions.

There are no new unreleased tracks here (two can be found on the A Cellarful of Motown! compilations) and the playing time is skimpy, but it's what's in the grooves that counts and this is a testament to the creators of some of the finest grooves to be found."