Motown / Universal
Oh yeah, there have been tons of folks throughout the years who have tried to be “the bad boy” of the rock era, but Rick James actually has the record to prove it. Kinkier than a process after a rain storm, James picked up the tattered remains of funk after disco and carried it into the ’80s before the bottom fell completely out from R&B. Not as raw and more synthesized than his predecessors, he was still funkier than most musicians of the time (remember Junior and O’Bryan?) and could only be stopped by the coming-of-age of Prince. This two-disc anthology pops with promiscuous musk, funking up any environ. “Mary Jane,” “You And I,” “Give It to Me Baby,” “Fire And Desire,” “Dance Wit’ Me,” “Standing on the Top,” “Cold Blooded,” “17,” and, of course,”Super Freak” (ruined forever, for me, by Hammer). The best of the best is represented here. Unfortunately, as with most of these anthologies, you also get the best of the worst. James had fallen off drastically in the mid-’80s, and it shows here on this collection. Yes, he had some great collaborations with Teena Marie, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, and Roy Ayers, but he also had some real clunkers when he tried teaming up with those early rap stars (“Loosey’s Rap” with Roxanne Shante — not to be confused with The Real Roxanne — and “P.I.M.P. the S.I.M.P.” with Grandmaster Flash). In all honesty, you could do without most of the second disc altogether. Not to disrespect Rick — because he was The Man — but he rose, worked, and played just like he fell — hard!