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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The Funk Brothers

Live in Orlando

Review by Gary Hill

Funk Brothers they may be called, but these guys were the session musicians behind all the Motown hits. It’s no surprise that they perform these songs better than anyone else. This concert performance proves it. If you are a fan of great soulful hits you must get this. Some of these tunes are performed better here than anywhere else I’ve heard them. My only complaint has to do with the CD mastering. Apparently it was decided in putting this disc together to put a space between each of the songs. To me it was a bit distracting from the concert experience and I wish they had run all the crowd noise together for a more seamless disc. Still, that’s a minor complaint and it’s all I’ve got.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Signed, Sealed, Delivered
This disc is full of classic Motown tunes, so why waste any time getting to this? They jump in with this funky groove and it’s a great start. The vocals (delivered by Marcia Ware) on this might well be the best performance of this ever done – yes, they are that good.
You Can't Hurry Love
As good as this one is, it just can’t compare to that opening powerhouse. We do get a cool percussion break and some nice vocal harmonies, though.
(I Know I'm) Losing You
I’ve always been purely infatuated with Vanilla Fudge’s version of this song. That said, this soulful take, feeling a bit like Blood Sweat and Tears, is a real screamer.  The horn section is especially noteworthy.
Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)
This slower number could have been a let down, but the smoking vocal performance keeps it from disappointing.

(Love Is Like) A Heatwave
Another classic, this is a lot of fun. It includes a tasty horn solo.
Ooo Baby, Baby
I wouldn’t exactly call this a let down, but it’s not as strong as a lot of the other stuff here. Still, the vocal performance is strong.
Dancing In The Streets
Now, this is more like it. This thing really rocks. It’s one of the best versions of this cut I’ve ever heard. The keyboard solo on this track is just plain tasty.
Shotgun
This funky jam is turned into a serious tour-de-force. Every instrument seems to be in high gear and we even get a percussion solo – starting with congas and moving to kit drums. That’s just the first in a series of solos, though. Next up is bass, followed by keys and guitar. It should be no surprise with all those solos that this is an extended track – it weighs in at over ten minutes in length.
What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted
A balladic number, I’m not overly crazy about this one. Of course, after the last killer piece pretty much anything would pale. It does get pretty powerful before it ends, though.
Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While)
A funky jam with soulful vocals this is another powerhouse. I’ve heard plenty of other renditions of this, but there are none better than this one.
You're All I Need To Get By
This is another of those balladic cuts, but this one has a great soulful texture that elevates it above some of the rest. It’s a killer tune, really and one of the highlights of the disc.
(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher
How can you hear this song and not think of “Ghostbusters II?” Well, despite the visual of a dancing Statue of Liberty, this track still works quite well. The vocals here are more of those above and beyond the call of duty performances.
Ain't No Mountain High Enough
Pretty much everyone in the world has heard this song, but this is one killer rendition. I would have to mark this one up as the most successful take on this classic that I’ve ever heard. I’d also label it as a great way to end the CD on a high note.
 
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