Liner Note Author: Dean Rudland.
Recording information: Sigma Sound Philadelphia.
Ace's 2016 compilation Things Gonna Get Better: Street Funk & Jazz Grooves 1970-1977 focuses on protest funk, fusion, and soul cut during the aftermath of civil rights, Watergate, and all the other social upheavals of the '70s. Drawing heavily from the catalog of Bob Thiele's Flying Dutchman label, Things Gonna Get Better also samples from a variety of Ace-owned or licensed imprints, including Westbound, Kent, Excello, and the vaults of producer Dave Hamilton -- a wide range that also suggests how the compilation doesn't strictly follow its concept. A fair chunk of the disc is devoted to intense, colorful jazz-funk, a sound that certainly belongs to this aware, adventurous scene, but these songs don't explicitly address social change: protest is implicit in the grooves. This flexibility makes Things Gonna Get Better a better listen than if it dogmatically adhered to its concept. Such dense workouts alternate with Afrocentric grooves, Funkadelic freak-outs, odes to Jesse Jackson and Superfly homages, all adding up to an invigorating portrait of a very rich period in African-American music. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine