Light: On The South Side (Numero Group)

On the surface this would seem like a normal compilation of undiscovered mid-1970s funk/soul/r&b/blues gems from Chicago. However, Numero Group up the ante by only making it available as a 2xlp that comes bundled with a book of photos taken in and around the Chicago clubs where this kind of music was played on stages and in jukeboxes. I can’t vouch for the book, since I was only sent the music for review (and it’s worth noting that the whole package costs $60), but based on the tunes I imagine photos of young club-goers dancing up a storm, with big Oscar Gamble-like afros and wild pimped-out ’70s apparel. Now onto the music: There’s seventeen songs here by mostly unknown artists (the biggest name is Syl Johnson, who provides an instrumental take on his classic “Is It Because I’m Black”) but don’t let the lack of familiarity turn you off to the idea. You might skip a few instrumentals but there’s a hefty group of great tunes like Bobby Rush’s stoned out “Bowlegged Woman, Knock Kneed Man,” Little Mack Simmons’ soul stunner “The Same One,” and the wah-wah heavy junkyard funk of “Give Me Some Of Yours” by Artie White. The price tag may be steep (and it would probably make sense to release a stand-alone CD for those who just want the music without the costly book) but so are the rewards.