Old School is Koko Taylor's first new album in seven years, and after a series of health issues that sidelined her for a while, it could be viewed as a comeback of sorts, but if so, there aren't any signs of rust here. She still belts out her trademark Chicago blues like she always has, sidestepping any 21st century recording tricks for a straightforward set that wouldn't sound out of place next to her classic Chess sides from the early '60s. It's also encouraging that she wrote nearly half the tunes here, while turning in solid covers of a pair of Willie Dixon songs ("Don't Go No Further" and "Young Fashioned Ways"), one by Magic Sam ("All Your Love") and a scorching performance of Lizzie Lawler's classic "Black Rat" that rivals Big Mama Thornton's version.
One can't venture very far into contemporary pop without hearing the echoes of '70s-'80's soul, funk and r&b; decades once mocked have seen their vibrant, groove-savvy music re-embraced – often without a trace of kitsch-savvy irony. This triple-disc, 58 track collection may come anthologized with a slightly cheesy conceit–retro-party-soundtrack-in-a-box, with discs devoted to flavoring your soulful soiree's beginning, middle and end–but its potent collection of vintage, era-evoking favorites can't be denied. Disc one/"Kickin' It Off" wends its way from expected jams like Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music" and Gap Band's "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" through such funk-fueled grooves as James Brown's sweaty "Payback" and Donna Summer's urgent, torch-song-with-a beat "Last Dance." Disc two/"Getting' Into the Groove" does just that via Top 40 stalwarts like The Spinners, Four Tops and O'Jays, while making room for legends (Al Green, Isley Brothers) and newcomers like the Brothers Johnson and Kool & the Gang alike. The set's final act winds down into late-night sultriness via Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Heraling," Delfonics' "Didn't I Blow Your Mind," Pointer Sister's "Slow Hand" and other sexy charms.