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One of the things that becomes clear to me listening to this compilation is the importance of DJs. Not for making music, even though there are a few tracks made or remixed by DJs, but in the more traditional role of selection and sequencing of tunes. My first experience with DJs was through radio when I was young. These days, most radio stations do not have DJs, "On Air Personality" is the preferred term; the people you will hear are chosen for their personality and the selections are from a list made by the program director.

These stations mainly play what is promoted the most and therefore expected to sell, but in "the old days" there was a significant segment of stations broadcasting music they cared about and the DJs would play songs they considered good. This collection is of that mindset, comprised of tunes selected from live DJ gigs and Craig Charles' Funk and Soul Show on BBC radio. This set is like a classic mix tape: by using the "journey by DJ" technique it becomes something more than just a bunch of great tunes--the sequenced changes in tone and energy fuse the numbers into a larger work of its own.

Like the advice given in Nick Hornby's High Fidelity, this mix starts out with an attention-getter--Aldo Vanucci's "You're All Show (Smoove Remix Craig Charles Edit)" featuring Australia's soul singer of choice, Kylie Auldist. Following that energetic start, Lack Of Afro contributes both "The Outsider (Part 2)" (recorded specifically for this compilation) and a remix of "High Heels" by Omar with Hidden Jazz Quartet. Omar also revisits his bona-fide classic "There's Nothing Like This" featuring Bassist to the Gods, Pino Palladino. Other names of note appearing are vocalist Jocelyn Brown (with Jessica Lauren Four,) Fred Wesley & Anthony Joseph (with Mop Mop) and The James Taylor Quartet. More musical highlights include "Second Best" by Saskwatch, "Feel Alive" by The Sweet Vandals and two smoking covers--Cookin' On 3 Burners funk up Gary Numan's "Cars" and Hot 8 Brass Band soaking The Specials' "Ghost Town" with the "second line" vibe from New Orleans, a city that is no stranger to violence.

As you might expect from the compilation's name, the sounds here include a bit of northern soul, classic rhythm & blues, smooth soul and funky instrumentals--especially hammond funk! Craig Charles says his show on 6 Music (BBC Radio) "…features much of the music from the golden age of American soul & funk music," but with the exception of James Taylor Quartet's "Blow Up!" from their debut 1987 single, the recordings on this collection are relatively new. Craig explains "…my compilations for Freestyle are a showcase for the contemporary bands that are all part of the worldwide response to the original pioneers and innovators of that sound - all the artists featured are doing their funky thing now - this is no history lesson!" While The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club Volume 2 is no lesson in history, the influence of the past is evident--the perfectly sequenced CD feels like a classic radio show or party mix tape.

Rating: 10/10

About the Writer
T-Bird is a music producer, remixer, musician, radio & club DJ but first and foremos, a lover of music. He was lucky enough to be raised in a family where making or listening to music was as normal as eating or breathing. T-Bird lives in Barcelona, Spain but is from Los Angeles, CA. Email: website:



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