Compilation albums are a funny beast. They can be a great way to get to know more about a genre, time period, record label, etc. The albums typically allow a listener to sample lots of artists representing the best of whatever subject the compilation has to offer, giving a listener a wider perspective than he/she might gain from listening only to a handful of prominent artists. With this breadth of exposure, there are a bunch of jumping off points for additional musical exploration.
For instance, when I’m listening to music, I tend to be somewhat artist-oriented in the sense that when I hear a song that I like, I want to find out who the artist was and what else they might have done. So it’s a little bit ironic that despite picking up a few substantial compilations, I don’t think I’ve ever really gotten into any particular artist as a result of those compilations. It’s not that the compilations are bad… far from it, in fact. They just haven’t acted as a springboard quite as much as I had hoped.
Assembling and presenting this list, one thing I’m trying to do is to paint a portrait of music that has shaped my tastes, music that has been relevant to my life, music I’d like to share with folks and, y’know, music that I like. For me, a big part of that is highlighting the artists as much as (if not, in some cases, more than) the songs. What this means is that ideally, I would get through the year using a minimal amount of compilation selections. Like I say, there’s nothing wrong with the music, per se, but sometimes there’s just nothing more to say than, “Hey… this rocks!”
That’s the case today. “Rock Me Baby” comes from the four-disc compilation, What It Is! Funky Soul and Rare Grooves [1967-1977]. The set basically is as advertised: a great big funk box with lots of great tracks, many coming from artists like Lou Johnson about whom I know absolutely nothing else. But y’know what? That’s okay, because the music is good and there’s no reason not to dance if you don’t know who’s singing. I mean really, why ask your head when it’s your hips that are swinging?