Funk This

Funk This

For 2007’s Funk This Chaka Khan hooked up with Janet Jackson’s longtime production team, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis (joined here by James “Big Jim” Wright, a producer and junior partner at Flyte Tyme). It’s a meeting that was long overdue. Not only are they fans (Khan was an obvious influence on Janet Jackson’s classic albums) but Jam and Lewis instinctively understand what’s great about Khan — her versatile voice, her sultry aura, her feel for jazz. Funk This isn’t so much a comeback album as it is a reiteration of Chaka’s essence. “One for All Time,” “Angel” and “Will You Love Me?” have a loving low-end thump, and just enough swing to make them exceptional in spite of — or perhaps because of — their simplicity. Almost half the album is devoted to a series of well-chosen covers. Jimi Hendrix’s “Castles Made of Sand” and Prince’s “Sign ‘o’ the Times” are no-brainers for Chaka — she sinks into them with total ease. Michael McDonald turns into a worthy duet partner for a silky rendition of the Doobie Brothers’ “You Belong To Me,” but the real surprise is Chaka’s effortless adaptation of Joni Mitchell’s “Ladies Man.”

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