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Reissue Theory x4: Chaka Khan (and Rufus Too)

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The Second Disc is a day late (but no less enthusiastic) in wishing Chaka Khan, The Queen of Funk Soul, a happy birthday. Chaka has had, to say the least, an illustrious career, first as a member of Rufus then as a wildly successful solo artist in the late ’70s and ’80s.

What is the secret to Khan’s ongoing popularity? Chalk it up to three things. First, there’s that powerhouse voice – at once sensuous and celebratory. There’s also the great sounds she surrounds her vocals with, whether it’s the tight funk of Rufus or the electro-futuristic delights concocted by the late, great Arif Mardin. But most importantly, it’s those songs.

Chaka Khan just knows how to interpret a song the right way, and that’s got to be the biggest key to her success. Whether it was Stevie Wonder (“Tell Me Something Good”), Ashford and Simpson (“I’m Every Woman”), David Foster (co-writer of “Through the Fire,” which Kanye West sampled to great effect on his first record) or Prince (“I Feel for You,” her cover of which has to be the only Prince cover that outdoes the original), she makes a tune her own with what seems like no trouble at all.

With that in mind, one has to wonder why there’s such a profound gap in Chaka Khan’s solo catalogue. We’re not solely talking titles in need of remasters or expansions (though that wouldn’t hurt) – there are simply several LPs Khan cut for Warner Bros. that have never been released on CD. Furthermore, reader Eddie Scott astutely pointed out that the Rufus catalogue (split about 80-20 between Universal Music Group, owners of the ABC-Paramount catalogue, and Warner Bros.) doesn’t even have a fit career-spanning compilation on the market (think along the lines of the double-disc Gold releases UMG does).

So here’s a belated birthday greeting to Chaka and all her fans: three(!) Reissue Theory-style expansions of her solo work and a theoretical track list for a Rufus Gold set. We’re telling you something good after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 24, 2010 at 09:39