Albums

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R&B - Released March 3, 2017 | Sony Music UK

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Soul - Released November 18, 2016 | Stax

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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R&B - Released January 1, 2015 | Stax

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Funk - Released August 21, 2015 | Epic - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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R&B/Soul - Released August 21, 2015 | Epic - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
In a way, the Isley Brothers have been taken for granted. Part of that is the group's unwitting doing because they were exceptionally steady. From 1966 through 1983, the Isleys placed at least one single on the Billboard R&B chart each year. They were always present, frequently at or near the top. For an extended period, they were among the most progressive groups, whether they were mixing gospel, soul, and rock, incorporating synthesizers without sacrificing the funk, covering pop hits and often surpassing them, or epitomizing quiet storm. When they retreated from the fore, they adapted with ease. Another factor in their undervalued status is that their vast discography has been reissued in chunks by various sources across the decades. The RCA Victor & T-Neck Album Masters: 1959-1983, released by the Sony catalog's Legacy division, is a corrective measure in the form of a compact 23-disc box set. It doesn't cover the Isleys' brief '60s stints with Wand, United Artists, and Tamla, but it is remarkably generous with dozens of bonus tracks -- mono versions, single edits, instrumentals, and so forth -- and LP-replica sleeves for each album. As an extra enticement for those who dutifully rounded up those late-'90s Legacy and early-2010s BBR reissues, there's Wild in Woodstock, a previously unreleased recording of the Go All the Way-era band performing at Bearsville Studios. Intended for release with overdubbed crowd noise that was thankfully never applied, the set alternates between blistering and gliding and deserves a separate physical issue outside the box. ~ Andy Kellman
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Soul - Released October 27, 2006 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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R&B - Released January 1, 1977 | UNI - MOTOWN

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Funk - Released June 2, 2014 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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R&B - Released January 1, 2002 | Motown (Capitol)

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Disappointed because Garden of Love wasn't as well received as it should have been, Rick James made a triumphant return to defiant, in-your-face funk with the triple-platinum Street Songs. This was not only his best-selling album ever, it was also his best period, and certainly the most exciting album released in 1981. The gloves came all the way off this time, and James is as loud and proud as ever on such arresting hits as "Super Freak," "Give It to Me Baby," and "Ghetto Life." Ballads aren't a high priority, but those he does offer (including his stunning duet with Teena Marie, "Fire and Desire") are first-rate. Even the world's most casual funksters shouldn't be without this pearl of an album. ~ Alex Henderson
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R&B/Soul - Released September 12, 2014 | Epic

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Wearing skintight pants, black leather and brandishing a Bowie knife on the LP cover, Nona Hendryx announces her intentions loudly and clearly on her debut record. At the time, this record was unpromotable (hell, it would be today), mainly because the record company and radio stations didn't know what to do with a huge-voiced African-American woman who was comfortable and capable of singing hard rock as well as soul music. So, as usual, they turned their backs on the record and it disappeared almost as quickly as it was released. Which is a shame, because it's a nasty, relentless chunk of hard-edged rock'n'soul that was just a bit ahead of its time. Long out of print, but worth searching for. ~ John Dougan
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R&B - Released March 15, 1974 | UNI - MOTOWN

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Pure Smokey consolidates Smokey Robinson’s progressions on Smokey, retaining the adventurous maturity of subject matter -- in particular, Robinson remains fixated on family, paying tribute to the sister who raised him on “It’s Her Turn to Live,” noting the passing generations on “She’s Only a Baby Herself,” and expressing “The Love Between Me and My Kids” -- but moving firmly into the present with his music. Apart from the closing “A Tattoo,” which was co-produced by Willie Hutch, Pure Smokey is helmed by Smokey himself and he creates a seamless blend of smoothed-out disco and gorgeous soft soul, the former firmly within the commercial realm of 1974 and the latter creating the sound he would coin Quiet Storm on his next LP. Here, Smokey favors lively beats over slow sways -- even the midtempo numbers carry a bounce to their rhythm -- yet these insistent, danceable rhythms convey an element of seduction thanks to Smokey’s velvet delivery, a smoothness that’s undeniable in his vocals and arrangements. So smooth is Pure Smokey that it’s easy to overlook its subtle innovations in subject and music, but that’s what makes it a rich, enduring LP: it goes down easy but pays back greater dividends upon close listening. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Soul - Released January 1, 1973 | UNI - MOTOWN

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Soul - Released January 1, 2014 | UNI - MOTOWN

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Soul - Released January 1, 2014 | UNI - MOTOWN

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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Soul - Released January 1, 2014 | Motown

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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Funk - Released March 30, 2010 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
After a tentative but promising 1973 debut album, Graham Central Station returned the next year with a head-spinning blend of R&B styles that realized their promise in a truly impressive fashion. Release Yourself touches on everything from gospel music to psychedelia, as the band puts forth an impressive set of songs that strike an effective balance between accessibility and complexity. This time, keyboards carry a new level of importance: songs like "G.C.S." and "I Believe in You" flow forth on elaborate keyboard riffs layered with plenty of spacey synthesizer leads. The album's most impressive achievements are the title track, a pulse-pounding tribute to the joys of self expression that combines churchy organ riffs and stately horns over a furiously-paced bass/clavinet rhythm, and "Tis Your Kind of Music," a psychedelic-funk masterpiece that has Patryce "Chocolate" Banks and Graham trading sultry lead vocals over an otherworldly blend of keyboard and Mellotron riffs with a fluid bassline. Another stunner is "Today," a funk-rock workout that starts with a slowly-woven tapestry of keyboard riffs before launching into a cosmic vocal section that underscores the group's choral harmonies with some fiery guitar leads. Although it lacks an overtly pop-flavored classic like "Can You Handle It?" or "Your Love," nothing on this album is less than interesting thanks to stellar arrangements and the group's obvious love for what they do -- the sunny energy that propels songs like the title track and "Got to Get Through It" is positively infectious. The result is a true gem that is a treat for funk fanatics and a required listen for anyone with a serious interest in Graham Central Station. ~ Donald A. Guarisco
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R&B - Released June 15, 1976 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
A good session, though the gimmicks are kicking in. ~ Ron Wynn
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R&B - Released March 14, 2014 | Arista - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography

Soul - Released February 24, 2014 | Ace Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Gil Scott-Heron's 1971 album Pieces of a Man set a standard for vocal artistry and political awareness that few musicians will ever match. His unique proto-rap vocal style influenced a generation of hip-hop artists, and nowhere is his style more powerful than on the classic "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised." Even though the media -- the very entity attacked in this song -- has used, reused, and recontextualized the song and its title so many times, the message is so strong that it has become almost impossible to co-opt. Musically, the track created a formula that modern hip-hop would follow for years to come: bare-bones arrangements featuring pounding basslines and stripped-down drumbeats. Although the song features plenty of outdated references to everything from Spiro Agnew and Jim Webb to The Beverly Hillbillies, the force of Scott-Heron's well-directed anger makes the song timeless. More than just a spoken word poet, Scott-Heron was also a uniquely gifted vocalist. On tracks like the reflective "I Think I'll Call It Morning" and the title track, Scott-Heron's voice is complemented perfectly by the soulful keyboards of Brian Jackson. On "Lady Day and John Coltrane," he not only celebrates jazz legends of the past in his words but in his vocal performance, one that is filled with enough soul and innovation to make Coltrane and Billie Holiday nod their heads in approval. More than three decades after its release, Pieces of a Man is just as -- if not more -- powerful and influential today as it was the day it was released. ~ Jon Azpiri
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Disco - Released September 30, 2013 | Rhino Atlantic

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