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Forty Essential Funk Albums

As you may have noticed from the soundtracks section of the site, we're massive funk collectors and enthusiasts. We regularly receive requests from people asking us what music we recommend, or what we're listening to. So here you are - a general overview of the best of the funk albums or artists that we've heard, that are available on CD. Click on the links to read more about or buy the item.

This list was last updated on 18 Dec 2005.

Bubble Gum (aka. Falling In Love) 9th Creation
Another long-overdue reissue. This superb obscure funk album has spawned a million samples courtesy of the sinous, bass-heavy groove of 'Bubble Gum' but there are many other quality, tight mid-70s funk cuts on here too, like 'Quit It' and 'Rule Of Mind', a lovely mellow space-funk groover. Excellent.
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Pickin' Up the Pieces: The Best of Average White Band (1974-1980) Average White Band
You don?t need us to tell you this is funky. 'Pick Up The Pieces'. They're funky. They're from Scotland. 'Nuff said.
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Evolution: The Polydor Anthology Ayers, Roy
Roy Ayers had a massive impact on the 1970s jazz, funk and fusion scenes. His sparse production style and apparently simple yet complex grooves had everyone dancing. These tunes are still as fresh and essential today as they were back then. The original albums these tracks come from go for crazy money so this is a complete steal. Superb.
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Declassified Grooves Black Heat
Massive wah and horns-driven heavy funk, similar to Kool And The Gang's early material. Brilliant dancefloor hard funk, and sampled to hell by hip-hoppers. Two expensive original LPs (Black Heat and No Time To Burn) on one CD - bargain!
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Talking to the People Black Nasty
If you like your funk super-heavy, Stax-style, and old school, then buy this album. It's a mad, crazy stew of all sorts of rocky funk influences. Includes the classic 'Getting Funky Round Here.'
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Greatest Hits Blackbyrds, The
The Blackbyrds were students at the music college where Donald Byrd was teaching. He tutored and managed them, and here are the results. They produced some classic fusion-tinged jazz funk in the 1970s, and all the best cuts are on this album. If you don't have 'Do It Fluid' and 'Rock Creek Park' then you need this badly!
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The Payback Brown, James
Really a tough choice between this album and 'Hell' for which is the best of his 1970s material. For our money, The Payback just edges it. 'Stone To The Bone' - superb! This album is the original music for 'Hell Up In Harlem', trivia fans - but was rejected by Larry Cohen, the film's director.
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The Best of B.T. Express BT Express
Perhaps slightly less well-known than some of the other big funk outfits of the 1970s, BT Express issued their classic first album in 1973 and never looked back, working successfully well into the disco era. This collection includes all their best dancefloor cuts, with the massive old school funk of 'This House Is Smoking' and 'Peace Pipe'.
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Best of Chocolate Milk Chocolate Milk
Chocolate Milk issued their first album in the mid 1970s and made an immediate impact with their Toussaint-produced, bass-heavy downtempo funk feel. This anthology includes most of their best tracks from a series of now-expensive LPs. Includes the classic 'Action Speaks Louder Than Words'.
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What's Up Front That Counts Counts, The
Superb, heavy organ-driven funk by The Counts. Massive drums and a righteous groove really make this album a winner.
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Cymande Cymande
Cymande were a John Schroeder production, one of the few British funk bands to make a dent on the American charts. Their first two LPs are classic, dope old school funk with a strange Afro edge. Really interesting stuff - this 'Best Of' comp ditches the dull tracks off the two albums and includes all the killers, especially the all-time funk classic 'The Message', which is as powerful now as it was back then.
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The Very Best of Manu DiBango: AfroSoulJazz Dibango, Manu
The profilic Cameroonian sax player Manu Dibango had a massive worldwide hit in 1973 with his incredible Soul Makossa. Along with Fela Kuti this guy practically invented the Afrobeat sound. Crazy funk rhythms mix with African influences and a little jazz to produce some fantastic dancefloor grooves. Also includes some rare cuts like the killer 'Africadelic'. Top stuff!
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Did You Give the World Some Love Today, Baby Doris
Here's an oddity that caused quite a stir on its discovery a few years back. A Swedish folk-funk album with a loungey feel, this classic dancefloor groover from the late 60s/early 70s includes two monster shakers, 'Beatmaker' and 'Don't'. If you like your funk just a little cheesy with plenty of big band brass and chunky drums, this is for you.
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Earth, Wind & Fire Earth, Wind & Fire
One of the classic bands of the 1970s who continued well into the 80s with a more disco feel. This, their first album, has a much more raw sound and is more Afro-influenced than much of their later material. Includes the killer dancefloor instrumental 'Bad Tune'.
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Straight Up Exit 9
A long-overdue reissue for this obscure classic funk album from 1975. Really tight, angular funk with a superb brass section and wicked guitar licks. Includes the huge dancefloor funk track 'Miss Funky Fox'. Highly recommended!
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Funk Inc. Funk Inc.
Funk Inc. were a studio band of jobbing musicians who'd played with guys like James Brown. They were a small band, and played classic old school small group jazzy funk in the classic Prestige style - big Hammond, sax, chunky wah guitar and tight, full bass and drums. Excellent instrumental funk as it should be done. This CD includes two of their best LPs.
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Harlem River Drive Harlem River Drive
Eddie Palmieri's classic latin funk band. Superb, beautiful latin funk from the masters of the genre. Highly recommended.
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Survival Of The Fittest Headhunters, The
The Headhunters were Herbie Hancock's backing band in the 1970s, made up of some killer session players like Paul Jackson, Mike Clark and Bennie Maupin. This, their first solo album, is their best. Superb hard dancefloor funk, really heavy and righteous with a strong jazz edge. Includes the all-time funk classic 'God Make Me Funky'. Their second album, Straight From The Gate, is also a goodie.
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Funky Good Time: The Anthology JB's, The
If you just want the best of the JBs without the duff tracks off their LPs, this is a cracking collection of all the classics. They were so tight because James Brown would make them play the same groove for hours on end, plus they gigged so regularly that their chops were tight, tight, tight. Brilliant, classic funk.
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The Best of Kool & the Gang 1969-1976 Kool & The Gang
Frankly, this album should be retitled 'The Best Of Kool And The Gang, Period'. Simply the hottest, tightest hard, heavy, sweaty funk around. Fantastic horn and rhythm sections, infectious guitar grooves, massive on the dancefloor. Every track on here is superb. Highly recommended.
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Lemuria Lemuria
You know we said there were two classic funk bands based in Hawaii? Well, here's the other one. This is a hot tip as you'd never find it in the usual listings! Superb, mellow jazzy funk that includes the superb dancefloor funk of 'Hunk Of Heaven'. A beautiful album.
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Fully Loaded Magnum
This album is a total killer. Brilliant, and only, album from a studio band of the best jazz and funk musicians in the Dayton and Philly areas. Massive dancefloor jazzy funky, huge horns and dope bass and drums. Extremely tight and funky! The original LP is impossible to find and very expensive so this is a bargain!
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Fencewalk: The Anthology Mandrill
Mandrill were absolutely huge in the 1970s but since then haven't really got the recognition they deserve. They produced a clutch of classic funk, jazz, rock and latin influenced albums in the early 70s - this is a great introduction to their classic dancefloor grooves.
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Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse McDaniels, Eugene
Classic obscure oddball jazz-funk album from 1970, featuring a young Alphonse Mouzon on drums. This album's been plundered by many hip-hoppers, and the original changes hands for a tidy sum, so snap this up! Fantastic weird, intense, mad funk.
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Funkify Your Life: The Meters Anthology Meters, The
OK, this is how the funk works. Buy this anthology and you'll find out how it started (with a stripped-down, organ-driven swamp funk groove) then how it evolved as the 70s progressed (into a more sinuous, fuller sound). Absolutely classic material. If you only buy one CD from this list, make sure it's this one.
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Doing Their Own Thing Parker, Maceo & All The King's Men
On a short break from sax duties with James Brown, Maceo and his brother put together this classic swampy funk album which was allegedly suppressed by James at the time. It's a classic downtempo sax-heavy old school funk album - excellent!
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Tear the Roof Off 1974-1980 Parliament
One of the biggest funk bands of all time, George Clinton's crazy Parliament collective are still touring today. This collection is an excellent summary of all their best material, and ditches the tedious studio jams that used to spoil their albums. Includes so many classics - 'Flashlight', 'P-funk'? essential!
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We Got the Funk Positive Force
Classic party funk with a late 1970s feel. The title cut is a well-known classic party rocker, but the rest of the album is equally as good. Excellent stuff.
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Golden Classics Quarterman & Free Soul, Sir Joe
Sir Joe's essential, and only, album in all its glory, plus some essential cuts that only came out on hard to find 45s. A beautiful, righteous funk album with some very dope grooves and sociallly conscious lyrics. Highly recommended.
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But It Sure is Funky! Ripple
CD reissue of Ripple's classic, and hard to find, first album, plus a bunch of unissued cuts from a planned LP that never happened. Ripple had a slightly Afro-influenced feel to their funk, with a very dope syncopated groove. About half of this album is wack but the other half is so very good that it's an essential purchase.
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What Is It/Can You Feel It S.O.U.L.
How lucky can you get? Two classic funk albums, both seriously expensive and hard to find, on a single CD! SOUL had a very old school righteous feel to their funk, with heavy organ, dope guitar work and big drums. It's got a little jazz, a lot of funk and plenty of breaks. Includes the all-time classic flute funker breaks cut 'Burning Spear'.
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Seawind Seawind
Possibly the best, and one of the hardest to find, albums on CTI? Seawind were one of two superb funk outfits based in Hawaii and for some reason this has echoes in their style. Sparse, beautiful, crisp production and super-tight playing (Seawind's rhythm and horn sections were in-demand session players in their spare time), this first album is their best. Wicked, tight late 70s funk as it should be done. A guaranteed dancefloor mover. Includes 'The Devil Is A Liar' and 'We Got A Way'
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Anthology Shaw, Marlena
OK, so this is hardly a hard funk album. But what it's got is the groove! Some of Marlena's finest music from the Chess/Cadet years is on here, and it includes the awesome, thrilling funky soul of 'California Soul' so it's an essential purchase.
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The Essential Sly & The Family Stone Sly & The Family Stone
One of the all-time classic bands of the 20th Century. Sly Stone's superb multi-racial band spanned continents and genres effortlessy, producing some beautiful and moving music as well as many a hit single. All the classics are on this new anthology, remastered with new liner notes. Our pick? 'Sing A Simple Song' rocks every party we play, every time.
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What Is Hip - Anthology Tower Of Power
The biggest and baddest funk band to come out of the Bay Area. Fantastic super-tight funk from the best horn section in funk, and David Garibaldi on drums too. Many samples and breaks on here to boot. Superb. Their albums were always uneven, so this is the best way to get the decent stuff without the schmaltzy junk.
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James Brown's Funky People Part 1 Various
A superb collection of the very best of James Brown's People label and some of his other productions. Incredible dancefloor movers that still work as well today. For samplers, too many good breaks! Clyde Stubblefield and Jabo Starks on drums, fantastic! You need all three volumes of this series.
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James Brown's Funky People Part 2 Various
Second in this superb series.
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James Brown's Funky People Part 3 Various
Third album in this superb series. Includes several never-before-issued tracks.
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The Funky 16 Corners Various
This is one for the little guys, the guys who pressed a single 45 and never got the breaks. A great compilation of really tough late 60s and early 70s grooves, amazingly raw and intense. Some fantastic and super-rare gems are on here.
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Innervisions Wonder, Stevie
This album is the reason that Stevie Wonder is a genius. 'Living For The City', 'Higher Ground'? pretty damn close to musical perfection. A beautiful and damn funky album.
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Express Yourself: The Best of Charles Wright Wright, Charles & Watts 103rd Street Band
Charles Wright. Father of the late Easy E. Originator of a particular kind of soulful funk that spawned a million imitators. Killer band, including the awesome drummer James Gadson. One monster hit single that spawned a thousand rap samples - 'Express Yourself'. Just buy it.
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All site contents ©2005 The author has asserted his moral rights. Cover scans, album reviews, all other text content and/or pictures may only be used by prior permission of But what the hell, I'm a nice guy, so drop me a line!