A friend once told me, before I'd seen her live, about Joan Jett in concert: "You know exactly what you're going to get, and then she gives it to you, and it's awesome." That's pretty much the case here. Frankie Knuckles' classicism is the strength of this mix—besides God, of course, whose appearances are frequent and explicit. Most of Knuckles' pert selections cheerfully strut on the line between awe-inspiring and corny. It helps that he's got seven years' worth of tracks to select from since the first Motivation, of course—the more cultural filters there are, the better, especially when it comes to stuff as super-obvious as classicist garage and house.
But if you need to be reminded that you are, in fact, a worthwhile human being as sturdy garage and house bumps imperturbably in the foreground, then boy, does this thing do the job. By the time Knuckles gets to Deep Swing's "Across the Land (Spread Love)," track four of 12, he's worked things to enough of a froth that he could lay an Ayn Rand monologue over rolling organ, vamping strings and skipping snares and keep the momentum going. Thankfully, he opts for Scott Wozniak's "My Light," whose feel-good-about-yourself-isms are stated with credible calm, allowing Jocelyn Brown's holler on Jon Cutler's "One (Morten Trust Dub)" to ring even more clearly.
There are cuts on Motivation Too more dramatic than Timmy Vegas's "Timmy's Choir," but it's the one that sums the mix up for me. Not so much for Clark's emotive "Yeah!"s or for the choir's responses, lovely as those are, but for what she does between them: the "Say it again"s and "Oh"s that serve as a base line for the fervor. They're as important to what she—and Knuckles—are doing as the roars, and they imply real community—she's speaking to her people. And even if we aren't fully part of it, we get to listen in.