Twelve Inch Eighties is the successful 3CD range by Crimson Productions, compiling extended alternate mixes of some of the biggest hit singles of the 80s. Each themed release is housed in a sleek 3CD digipak with abstract imagery representative of early dance label releases. These carefully selected titles across the range bring together the finest eighties pop, dance and disco, amongst other genres, in all their full 12” single glory. Can You Feel It is a collection of some of the biggest 80s dance classics in their full extended 12” form, keeping you on the floor for longer.
The liner notes that accompany this collection note that '70s soul music has never really gotten its due. One could argue that point for days, but hubris aside, there's no denying that Can You Dig It pays serious homage to the golden years of American soul. The new box set contains 6 CDs and 136 cuts, 65 of which hit the No. 1 spot on the R&B and/or pop charts. As you'd expect with a project that mines such a rich era (the CDs are compiled chronologically), it represents a who's who of stars. Among the notables: Marvin Gaye, Sly Stone, Curtis Mayfield, the Spinners, the O'Jays, the Staple Singers, James Brown, Chairmen of the Board, Laura Lee, Freda Payne, and Jean Knight. Lesser lights also get to shine, i.e., El Chicano, who deliver the salsafied hippie anthem "Tell Her She's Lovely." But let's be honest–the selling point is the hits, and from the uplifting "Ooh Child" to the sassy "Want Ads," if you grew up in the '70s (hands up), then these tracks are beloved. Sure, the hard-core fan will probably wish for more obscurities, and the exclusion of Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, and George Clinton is troublesome, but anyone wanting an at-home jukebox loaded with classic R&B will certainly dig this.
Rick Braun's 2014 studio album, Can You Feel It, features more of the trumpeter's smooth jazz and funky crossover pop stylings. Produced by Braun, the album is his fourth released via Mack Avenue Records and follows up his 2011 album, Sings with Strings. However, where that album found Braun branching out into vocal standards, Can You Feel It features a return to the groove-oriented, largely instrumental jazz of his early work.
One of the better and more thoughtful Isaac Hayes compilations, Ultimate Isaac Hayes: Can You Dig It? is a three-disc (two CDs and one DVD) set that covers his years on Stax. There's a wide range of material here, from singles to deep album cuts, that provide a very representative look at these years, and Stax is even wise enough to include "I Stand Accused" and "Walk on By" in their full 12-minute versions. Only minor quibbles could be made with the selections. The third disc, a DVD, contains three songs performed by Hayes at Wattstax. And then there's the cherry – er, some other spherical object – on top: Hayes' performance of Chef's "Chocolate Salty Balls."