Personnel: Carlos Wilson (vocals, saxophone); Lou Wilson (vocals, trumpet, percussion); Claude Cave (vocals, keyboards); Brian Allsop (vocals); Ric Wilson (saxophone).
Illustrator: Fred Marcellino.
Rounding up the greatest grooves from the band's first five albums, right up until it left for United Artists in 1975, The Best of Mandrill is a top compilation for one of the most freewheeling bands of the early '70s. Unsurprisingly for a funk group, Mandrill excelled at recording catchy, well-played material with deep grooves, though unlike many bands, all of it was tempered by an experimentalist bent and a restless desire to explore many different avenues (occasionally in the same song). The compilation opens perfectly with "Ape Is High," "Fencewalk," "Git It All," and "Hang Loose" -- the band's four biggest hits, and (not a coincidence) its four greatest songs. The other seven tracks aren't always the best available: "Mango Meat" and its self-titled debut single are solid choices, but substituting a pair of album tracks ("House of Wood," "I Refuse to Smile") for the R&B hits "Positive Thing" and "The Road to Love" doesn't make much sense. Most importantly, though, The Best of Mandrill includes every song Mandrill's known for, in a punchy sequencing that does justice to the band's uncommon style. ~ John Bush