The first five volumes of Rhino's In Yo' Face: The History Of Funk arrived in September 1993. A CD sampler with three tracks from each volume was sent out to record stores and radio stations to promote the series. In HERC's experience, the In Yo' Face Sampler is one of the rarer Rhino CD series samplers out there. Doesn't mean it's not hard to come by, as several are up for sale across the world's largest swap meet, flea market and junque boutique as HERC types this. Like the rest of the series, the sampler disc is in mostly chronological order which in addition to pleasing the OCD collectors out there, also allows the natural evolution of the music to be heard as each disc plays out. As you can surmise after listening to the Spotify playlist HERC has provided for the sampler, there are no deep cuts. For those, you have to go to the individual volumes.
Volume 1 spans 1972-1974 and features tracks by both Parliament and Funkadelic so it's funk credentials are impeccable. Other well-known practitioners and architects of the funk include James Brown, Sly Stone, Curtis Mayfield, War and Earth, Wind & Fire. Eddie Kendricks says we should "Keep On Truckin'" while Pops Staples and his daughters deliver on the promise of "I'll Take You There". Like the sampler and all the other discs in the series, there are 15 thick cut slices of funk on Volume 1.
Volume 2, like it's immediate predecessor, kicks of with a declaration of funk from James Brown who answers Bobby's inquiry of "What'chu gonna play now?" with this true statement: "I don't know. But whatsever I play, it's got to be FUNKY!" Kool & the Gang bring their "Funky Stuff" while Tower Of Power, still underrated after all these years, ask "What Is Hip?" Chaka and Rufus tell us something good while the O'Jays catalog the perils of greed in "For The Love Of Money". B.T. Express (originally Brooklyn Trucking Express) urge everyone to just do it "Do It ('Til You're Satisfied)" years before Nike copped the phrase and the Average White Band defy their moniker to deliver the funky "Pick Up The Pieces". The songs are from that tight funky three year period of 1973-1975.
Parliament and Funkadelic, George Clinton's double-edged broadsword of funk, are reunited on Volume 3, which features songs from 1973-1977. Parliament brings the signature P-Funk with their jam "P. Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up)" while former Sly & the Family Stone bassist Larry Graham's new group Graham Central Station (see what he did there?) brings "The Jam". Twenty years into their career, the Brothers Isley were still dropping funk bombs and the call to arms "Fight The Power" was just another one in their arsenal. Upon the release of "Play That Funky Music", many people mistakenly assumed that Wild Cherry was voiced by a dark-skinned man; both the song and vocals were that funky.
Still mining the years 1973-1977, Volume 4 has four of the funkiest songs ever committed to tape: Kool & the Gang's "Hollywood Swinging"; Parliament's "Tear The Roof Off The Sucker (Give Up The Funk)"; Brick's "Dazz" and the master, Marvin Gaye's "Got To Give It Up". The first three represent Volume 4 on the sampler while the latter was an undeniable inspiration for Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines", one of the biggest hits of Summer 2013.
With not one but two songs on Volume 5, Sly and his Family Stone become the only act to make an appearance on each of the five volumes in the In Yo' Face series. With one song coming form 1974 and the other fourteen from 1977-1980, Volume 5 closes out the decade and the series with more synth bass than you can shake your dukey stick at. The final track is Zapp's it's-not- bragging-if-it's-true "More Bounce To The Ounce" which sets the stage for the next class of funkateers.
But a curious thing happened on the way to the next volume. Rhino did an about face and issued a prequel to their History Of Funk with Volume ½, The Roots Of Funk in April 1994. It covers the years 1966-1973 with the majority of the tracks coming from the fertile period of 1969-1971. For his money, this is HERC's favorite disc. So many roots, so many foundations - the humble beginnings of everything on the one...funk's big bang.