Liner Note Author: Dean Rudland.
Illustrators: Dean Rudland; David Wilson; Dave Welding; Chucky Thurmon; Ady Croasdell; Bob Abrahamian; Alec Palao; Miles Grayson.
Ace's 2016 compilation California Soul: Funk & Soul from the Golden State 1967-1976 collates a bunch of rare singles cut on the West Coast during the twilight of soul and the golden age of funk. Despite the deep, abiding influence of Sly & the Family Stone, California often gets brushed aside in this era of R&B history: so much of the music is rooted in the deep south that the music made in the bright California sunshine is treated as a footnote. By its nature, Ace's California Soul isn't a definitive study -- it deliberately concentrates on music that wasn't widely heard, released mainly on the Kent, Dore, Watts Way, Money, and Music City imprints, and the familiar names Brenda George, Z.Z. Hill, and Vernon Green are all represented by obscure side. Nevertheless, by focusing on rarities, it winds up illustrating how deep and wide this particular river ran in the '60s and '70s. A lot of this does land somewhere in the vicinity of Sly Stone: there are nimble, dexterous rhythms, snatches of fuzz guitar, and blended vocals, all hallmarks of the Family Stone. Some of it carries a harder blues undercurrent, yet there's a distinctly urban bent to this music; it's not rural or backwoods by any means, and that's its charm, because it captures a funky soulful attitude that is distinctly Californian. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine