Dâm-Funk & Steve Arrington Higher

Dâm-Funk & Steve Arrington Higher
9
Steve Arrington might not be as well-known as George Clinton, James Brown or Roger Troutman, but he's made an equally incalculable mark on the funk landscape, first as drummer and vocalist with late '70s/early '80s funk legends Slave and then later with his solo work, influencing a generation of R&B crooners with his innovative vocals and musicianship, which provided the blueprint for '90s G-Funk. You'd think that his new collaboration (and return to music after a 25-year hiatus) with L.A. producer Dam-Funk (aka Damon Riddick) would be a trip to retro-funk heaven, evoking the monster funk grooves of Slave and smooth bounce of early '80s boogie. Commendably, Higher is something different; it's a funk record that can stand with the best of the genre's heyday while offering a new, futuristic twist on the formula. At 57, Arrington's lost none of his vocal edge and Dam has wisely stepped back with relaxed, trance-inducing beats that keep the bump factor flowing while allowing Arrington to indulge his infectious vocal idiosyncrasies on cuts like head-nodding opener "I Be Going Hard" and the trippy, slow-rolling "Magnificent." The trunk-thumping title cut is a slamming slab of spacey, glorious groove and there isn't a weak track in the bunch. Here's hoping that Steve Arrington is back to stay. (Stones Throw)