Qobuz’s experts gather all the essentials of each genre. These albums have marked music history and become major landmarks.

With the Ideal Discography you (re)discover legendary recordings, all whilst building on your musical knowledge.

Albums

$8.99

Funk - Released June 2, 2014 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
$10.49

Funk - Released March 30, 2010 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography

Funk - Released August 23, 2013 | Epic - Legacy

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
Download not available
At the peak of their career, Sly & the Family Stone topped the charts with a Greatest Hits album -- in 1970, it was their first LP to crack the Billboard Top 200, peaking at number two; an argument could be made that it was the LP that cemented their stardom -- and over the years, they've been anthologized many times, almost each compilation worthwhile, but they've never been subjected to a comprehensive box set until Legacy's 2013 four-disc set Higher! (A 2007 box called The Collection doesn't count, as it just rounded up the expanded remasters of the group's Epic catalog.) Higher! succeeds because it performs a task many box sets do not: it tells a story. Placing an emphasis on narrative, sometimes achieved through rarities, does mean that there are some omissions here: "Fun," "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey," studio versions of "Stand" and "You Can Make It If You Try," "Just Like a Baby," "Babies Making Babies," and the 1975 version of "I Get High on You" are all absent, but as the box plays, they're not missed, as the story that is told is compelling. Higher! takes its time to get to Sly & the Family Stone's streak of hit singles -- the second disc is a quarter finished by the time "Dance to the Music," the group's first genuine hit, surfaces -- but it never drags. If anything, the early material -- including five sides Sly Stone, then performing under his given name Sylvester Stewart, recorded for Autumn in 1964 and 1965, plus the 1967 single for Loadstone, "I Ain't Got Nobody (For Real)"/"I Can't Turn You Loose" -- is instrumental in laying the foundation for what came later, as they reveal Sly's deep roots in R&B, doo wop, pop, and rock & roll, sounds he spliced together when he formed the Family Stone in 1967. Remarkably, the other rarities are equally illuminating, whether it's a clutch of terrific unreleased songs from 1967 (such stellar cuts as "What's That Got to Do with Me" and "Only One Way Out of This Mess" kick off the second disc), scorching live performances from the Isle of Wight in 1970, or the oddity "Small Fries," from the band's alter ego the French Fries, where Sly's sped-up, helium-addled voice is a clear predecessor to Prince's impish mischief. These are grace notes to the band's enormous legacy, a legacy that is clearly on display throughout Higher!, whether it's heard on exuberant hits that are pop staples to this day, rhythms that were heavily sampled during the golden age of hip-hop, or a vibrant blurring of boundaries that still sounds visionary. It's that depth of detail, combined with the masterful sequencing, that makes Higher! such a superb box set: it tells a familiar story in a fresh fashion. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
$10.99

Funk - Released July 17, 2012 | Cherry Red Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Like Tom Browne and Lenny White/Twennynine, Bernard Wright was part of Jamaica, Queens' R&B/funk scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s, which gave us such major hits as Twennynine's "Peanut Butter" and Browne's "Funkin' for Jamaica." Browne and White were both talented jazz musicians, but R&B/funk was their main focus at that time. Similarly, keyboardist/pianist Wright occasionally flirts with instrumental jazz on his debut album, 'Nard, but pays a lot more attention to vocal-oriented soul and funk. The only instrumentals on this out-of-print LP are the jazz-funk smoker "Firebolt Hustle," the Rodney Franklin-ish "Bread Sandwiches," and a relaxed interpretation of Miles Davis' "Solar," which finds Wright forming an acoustic piano trio with bassist Buster Williams and drummer Roy Haynes. Otherwise, this is an R&B album that is defined by such impressive funk as "Spinnin'," "Master Rocker," and the goofy but wildly infectious "Haboglabotribin'." Recorded when the keyboardist/pianist was only 16, 'Nard was expected to be a big hit, but surprisingly, didn't fare as well as albums by Browne and White. ~ Alex Henderson
$11.49

Funk - Released March 23, 2010 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
$12.99

Funk - Released January 16, 2007 | Epic - Legacy

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
It's easy to write off There's a Riot Goin' On as one of two things -- Sly Stone's disgusted social commentary or the beginning of his slow descent into addiction. It's both of these things, of course, but pigeonholing it as either winds up dismissing the album as a whole, since it is so bloody hard to categorize. What's certain is that Riot is unlike any of Sly & the Family Stone's other albums, stripped of the effervescence that flowed through even such politically aware records as Stand! This is idealism soured, as hope is slowly replaced by cynicism, joy by skepticism, enthusiasm by weariness, sex by pornography, thrills by narcotics. Joy isn't entirely gone -- it creeps through the cracks every once and awhile and, more disturbing, Sly revels in his stoned decadence. What makes Riot so remarkable is that it's hard not to get drawn in with him, as you're seduced by the narcotic grooves, seductive vocals slurs, leering electric pianos, and crawling guitars. As the themes surface, it's hard not to nod in agreement, but it's a junkie nod, induced by the comforting coma of the music. And damn if this music isn't funk at its deepest and most impenetrable -- this is dense music, nearly impenetrable, but not from its deep grooves, but its utter weariness. Sly's songwriting remains remarkably sharp, but only when he wants to write -- the foreboding opener "Luv N' Haight," the scarily resigned "Family Affair," the cracked cynical blues "Time," and "(You Caught Me) Smilin'." Ultimately, the music is the message, and while it's dark music, it's not alienating -- it's seductive despair, and that's the scariest thing about it. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
$12.99

Funk - Released February 8, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
The title is a tip-off, as is the garish, blaxploitation-chic photo on the cover -- Rejuvenation, the Meters' second album for Reprise, should be seen as a bit of a new beginning for the quintessential New Orleans funk group. It's not a clean beginning, since they were pointing in this direction on Cabbage Alley, but this is where their glistening, clear production, crisp performances, rock influences, and hard-edged funk coalesce into a sound distinct from their Josie recordings -- not better, just different. As such, this is the definitive Reprise album from the Meters, not just because the material is stronger (which admittedly is true), but because the performances are continually inspired and the production is professional but hits at a gut level, resulting in a first-class funk album. [Sundazed's 2000 reissue contains the single versions of "People Say" and "Hey Pocky-A-Way" as bonus tracks.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
$10.99

Funk - Released April 10, 1989 | Epic

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
James Mtume's band Mtume hit its commercial and creative peak in 1983, when Juicy Fruit was released. The infectious, mildly risqué title song -- which contains the controversial lyrics "I'll be your lollipop/You can lick me everywhere" -- soared to number one on Billboard's R&B singles chart and ended up being sampled by quite a few hip-hoppers, including the late Notorious B.I.G. (who used the infectious gem on his 1994 hit "Juicy"). Some of the people who heard the "Juicy Fruit" single on the radio back in 1983 bought the single but not the album, which is a shame because the other tracks are also excellent. In fact, many of Mtume's hardcore fans agree that Juicy Fruit is the band's most essential album. This LP came at a time when funk was becoming increasingly technology-minded. Horn-driven funk bands were going out of style, and funksters were using a lot more keyboards and synthesizers. Juicy Fruit reflects that evolution; although not totally electronic, funk/urban pearls like "Hips" and "Ready for Your Love" are very keyboard-minded. Only one horn player is employed on this release: jazz saxophonist Gary Bartz, who did his share of R&B sessions in the late '70s and early '80s but eventually returned to being a full-time jazz improviser. Throughout Juicy Fruit, James Mtume takes a very hands-on approach -- in addition to producing the album and co-writing much of the material, he plays keyboards and provides some of the lead vocals (along with the expressive, big-voiced Tawatha Agee). Juicy Fruit isn't the only worthwhile album that James Mtume's band came out with in the '80s; as a rule, his '80s output was solid. But if you must limit yourself to one Mtume release, Juicy Fruit would be the best choice. ~ Alex Henderson
$7.99

Funk - Released January 1, 1980 | Warner Bros.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
$17.49
$12.99

Funk - Released November 21, 1977 | Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Earth, Wind & Fire's artistic and commercial winning streak continued with its ninth album, All 'N All, the diverse jewel that spawned major hits like "Serpentine Fire" and the dreamy "Fantasy." Whether the visionary soul men are tearing into the hardest of funk on "Jupiter" or the most sentimental of ballads on "I'll Write a Song for You" (which boasts one of Philip Bailey's many soaring, five-star performances), All 'N All was a highly rewarding addition to EWF's catalog. Because EWF had such a clean-cut image and fared so well among pop audiences, some may have forgotten just how sweaty its funk could be. But "Jupiter" -- like "Mighty, Mighty," "Shining Star," and "Getaway" -- underscores the fact that EWF delivered some of the most intense and gutsy funk of the 1970s. ~ Alex Henderson
$10.49

Funk - Released January 15, 1977 | Warner Bros.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
$17.49
$12.99

Funk - Released November 11, 1975 | Columbia - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
$12.99
$9.99

Funk - Released March 15, 1975 | Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Earth, Wind & Fire has delivered more than its share of excellent albums, but if a person could own only one EWF release, the logical choice would be That's the Way of the World, which was the band's best album as well as its best-selling. Open Our Eyes had been a major hit and sold over half-a-million units, but it was World that established EWF as major-league, multi-platinum superstars. Fueled by gems ranging from the sweaty funk of "Shining Star" and "Yearnin' Learnin'" to the gorgeous ballad "Reasons" and the unforgettable title song, EWF's sixth album sold at least five-million units. And some of the tracks that weren't major hits, such as the exuberant "Happy Feelin'" and the gospel-influenced "See the Light," are equally powerful. There are no dull moments on World, one of the strongest albums of the '70s and EWF's crowning achievement. ~ Alex Henderson
$17.49
$12.99
3+3

Funk - Released August 21, 1973 | Epic - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography