Trouble Funk's combination of extended, stripped-down party jams and call-and-response audience-baiting techniques was so perfect, it seemed to be choreographed in advance. Live was originally a double album with four songs, each running about 15 minutes. The band seamlessly digs into the party vibe, integrating lazy cowbells and all manner of clanging percussion into a groove that is part pure funk and part futuristic electro-soul. The crowd, meanwhile, sounds ravenous. The band had enough brains to realize it didn't need to dress it up too much like its P-Funk kin; Trouble Funk could just lock into a rhythm and play until infinity.
Early Singles doesn't go quite so far out as the live record does, getting into shorter, almost song-based material. But that doesn't mean it doesn't rule. Two decades of watered-down funk and way too many funny hats have made it easy to forget just how bizarre, hard-hitting, and monumental this music could be in its purest form. For the most part, bass-slapping should be criminalized, but here, it's a necessity. If you've forgotten how good "Trouble Funk Express" is, you need to get reacquainted: It's the heaviest, sweatiest, most soulful party band-covering-Kraftwerk ever. Only Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock" comes close to capturing something this good. If you've lived your life without ever spending at least a good hour getting lost in these monstrously tight grooves, it's time to make a change.