A killer 2CD set – both of the Ruth Copeland albums for Invictus – plus bonus tracks too! First up is Self Portrait – a surprisingly groovy little set, and one of a few outings cut by singer Ruth Copeland – kind of an enigmatic figure in the early P-Funk years! The approach here is more rock than soul, but there's definitely some funky undercurrents too – of the sort that have always made Copeland a favorite with break freaks over the years – thanks to help on the album from Dennis Coffey, Eddie Hazel, Bernie Worrell, and George Clinton
! Ruth arranged, performed, and produced the core part of the album herself – but the production style is surprisingly strong – with a use of space and strings that almost shows a bit of Axelrod influence at times, although more skewed towards the Detroit soul scene that Copeland called home. Titles include the classic "Your Love Been So Good To Me", which starts with a very fuzzy electric break, and "I Got a Thing For You Daddy", which has some great spacey guitars on the intro – plus "Child of the North", "No Commitment", "A Gift of Me", and "The Music Box". I Am What I Am is a second sublime set from Ruth Copeland! There's a bit more emphasis on soul here than the funk of Copeland's previous efforts – but in a way that makes for an even more impressive record overall, especially when you realize that Ruth arranged and produced the whole thing. George Clinton
and Eddie Hazel both had a hand in co-writing songs with Copeland – and instrumentation features Hazel on guitar, plus Bernie Worrell on piano – so there's still a key P-Funk link. Titles include the breakbeat track "Suburban Family Lament", the fuzzy stoner funk number "Don't You Wish You Had", and covers of the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" and "Play With Fire" – plus "Crying Has Made Me Stronger", "Hare Krishna", and "The Medal". Bonus tracks include single versions of "Hare Krishna", "Gimme Shelter", "The Music Box", "A Gift Of Me", and "No Commitment".