Soul Jazz has become the caretakers of the immense Studio One catalog and for the last few years has been compiling and reissuing cuts from the vaults in volumes categorized under various themes. Studio One Funk has arrived, compiling 19 funky selections from the iconic reggae label's vaults. If you go into this listening for quote-unquote "funk," you may be disappointed. Sure there are the obligatory "Shaft" (Cedric Brooks) and "Funky Broadway" covers, but for the most part this is simply great, soulful reggae– not funk. This set runs the gamut from deep roots (Alton Ellis’ "African Descendants") to straight ska (the Soul Bros "007") and rock steady (Vin Gordon’s "Steady Beat") all the way to the moody drum machine instrumental "Music Answer" by The Sharks. One of the strongest cuts has been released as a 45, Lee Arab’s "Now," but there are plenty of other treats you’re only going to find on the full-length including a version of the Booker T classic "Melting Pot" that immediately dispenses with melody and jumps into a frenzied organ solo. Another Booker T inspired cover, Jackie Mittoo’s "Hang ‘Em High," demonstrates the simple reason why these Soul Jazz collections are a worthwhile purchase, even for those who already own the originals. The fidelity has been greatly improved from the Jamaican pressings which moves these cuts into the realm of the playable for DJ’s. Other notables among the remaining cuts are Prince Francis’s sublime "Beat Down Babylon" (great tune but can someone please tell me how this could ever be described as ‘funk’?), Cedric Brooks’ wicked rip of "Skylarking" entitled "Idleberg" (ditto), Lloyd Williams’ "Reggae Feet," and the easy DJ choice of Alton Ellis singing the Spinners’ "It’s a Shame."
- red colored double vinyl pressing
- housed in gatefold sleeve w/ liner notes
- limited edition
- original release year: 2004
- music label: Soul Jazz Records 2023
reviewed by Monk 05/2005