Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Charles Wright: Express Yourself: The Best of Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band [Warner Archives, 1993]
Funk so loose and home-fried it's a miracle it ever got on the radio, most of this sounds like it was recorded by teenagers in a rec room somewhere near Crenshaw Boulevard in 1971, except that the Otis-style croaker up top is too old--somebody's uncle, maybe he financed the instruments. In fact, however, they were groundbreaking pros who'd peaked by then--"Do Your Thing" hit in February 1969, same as the Meters' "Sophisticated Cissy" and six months before Kool or Funkadelic, and by the end of 1970 "Express Yourself" was history. It was also their only classic. But if you'll settle for unfettered creativity, soul culture that doesn't yet fear present or future, pick almost anything. A-