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Stanley Clarke: 'The Complete 1970s Epic Albums Collection'

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Who's the greatest bassist of all time? Any poll will produce the same results: Victor Wooten, John Entwistle, Jaco Pastorius. Arguably more interesting, however, is who almost always gets left off these lists: one of the most inventive, influential, and flat-out badass bassists ever to strap on. The release of Stanley Clarke: The Complete 1970s Epic Albums Collection should provide some much needed clarity; its six discs showcase some of the most mind-blowing bass work ever captured, and, most importantly, establishes the blueprint for the bass master as we know it.  

Though it was through Return to Forever, a band led by long-time collaborator Chick Corea, that he made a name for himself, it was Clarke's solo work that established his voice. The five releases that span his '70s work for Epic established the bass as a lead instrument, a role it had never held before. It was his playing that made it happen, versatile, and always in service of the song. He could fly across the fret-board like Jaco ("Hello Jeff" off School Days), funk it up like Bootsy ("Power" on Stanley Clarke), or write the kind of hook Geddy would have sold his falsetto for (title track from School Days). Stanley Clarke may never get the recognition from the greater public he deserves, but there is some comfort in having a document like Complete 1970's to set the record straight.

★★★★ ½ (out of 5 stars)

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