CD review - The Funk Brothers 

The Best of the Funk Br

The Best of the Funk Brothers: The Millennium Collection
The Funk Brothers
2004 Motown

Thanks to the film Standing in the Shadows of Motown, most everyone knows the Funk Brothers as the group of musicians who played in Motown’s classic house band. What people may not be aware of are the two albums and handful of singles the Funk Brothers released under keyboardist Earl Van Dyke’s name. Some of these obscure recordings finally appear on CD thanks to the newest volume of Universal’s seemingly endless Millennium Collection, the somewhat misleadingly titled The Best of the Funk Brothers.

To the casual fan, this album might seem pointless since most of the songs are familiar Motown tracks, such as “The Way You Do The Things You Do” and “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch” with Van Dyke’s keyboards replacing the vocals. However, in presenting these tracks as instrumentals, one can hear these songs anew and fully appreciate the contributions these previously unknown musicians made to the Motown sound. This is to say nothing of the fact that even without vocals, this is some of the best feel-good music ever made. Even without the Temptations or the Supremes, this is fantastic music.

While some might argue that by limiting this collection for the most part to the Earl Van Dyke records, you miss a lot of the truly best work of the Funk Brothers, I’m glad just to finally see some of this material on CD. In fact, the only complaint I have is that there just isn’t enough music here. Granted, this is a mid-price release, but 12 tracks and 38 minutes leaves me hoping for a second volume.

Rob G. is co-host of The Free Zone, which airs each Friday night from midnight to 4 a.m.

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