Here is a quote from the liner notes of this album that demonstrate succinctly the problematics therein:
Chosen as the single, “Until We’re Free” has a radio friendly blend of horns, handclaps and background singers. Elaine told me in June 2010 that she didn’t like the “jazzed-up” production of that song by Freddie Perren, who was doing a lot of disco at that time. By “jazzed up”- she obviously didn’t meanjazzbut was referring to the glossy sheen he painted over her composition. Elaine would have preferred that I used “And We Shall Meet Again”- which is more representative of her distinctive style, but I begged for “Until We’re Free” which reflects a more tender side of her artistic work
Pat Thomas writes that he is compiling a essentialist record and and specifically “it is important to remember that the people featured on this album are individuals with their own perspectives…” Perspectives that apparently Thomas, in his infinite wisdom as a reknowned scholar of Black history and a famed ethnomusicologist (OH WAIT HE ISN’T?), chose to ignore.
It is one thing, in my personal opinion, when white writes and collectors of Black music admit that they are primarily fans of an aesthetic and make compilations based on what sounds from their collections most move them (Mike McGonigal does this well) or produces clear anthologies of certain artists or labels (See Numero Group). Presenting a work as definitive and in a sense, scholarly, while completely ignoring the ethics of representative as they effect one’s informants and creating what is in actuality an incredibly biased personal mixtape is, however, shameful and is a large part of why communities of color tend to distrust white interest in their creative arts and unique cultures.
This album (I haven’t reviewed the book yet) falls into the same trap as The Black Power Mixtape. While excellently designed and incredibly cool looking, these compilers and documentarians have accepted the fallacy of outsider neutrality and spoiled the results with their therefore unexamined biases.