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.
The male protagonist here (Jeremy Bulloch) has a gorgeous, generously breasted fiancée (played by the gorgeous, generously breasted Jill Damas from "Sex Play") who refuses to marry him unless he proves he can "keep it up for a week", that is keep a job for a week (get your minds out of the gutter, people). This doesn't seem like all that difficult a task for someone to be considered marriage material, but ironically it results in him cheating on her about a dozen times.
One of Ray Barretto's more erratic albums of the 1970s, Can You Feel It? is a collection of pop-jazz/crossover, fusion, and pop-soul that ranges from the exciting to the forgettable. Parts of this album find the conguero wasting his considerable talents on lesser material, but other parts find him letting loose and taking chances. "Whirlpool," "Daydreams," and the insistent "Confrontation" are solid fusion instrumentals that would have been worthy of Return to Forever, and "Sting Ray" has the type of catchy jazz-funk groove that would have worked on one of Joe Farrell's CTI dates of the 1970s.