Monday, June 06, 2005

Papa Don't Take No Mess 

It is becoming conventional wisdom that James Brown, the "Godfather of Soul," is one of the great musical geniuses of our time. An early soul music originator, the creator of funk, JB recorded music so original he spawned not only hundreds of imitators back in the 60s and 70s, but has been endlessly recyled via sampling technology to form the basis for hundreds of hip hop records over the past twenty years.

The specialty site Hyp Records (a highly recommended site for fans of funky and eclectic music) has this to say about the idiom that is James Brown:

As the world's hippest musical icon, James Brown has only just begun to outlive and outshine Elvis and whomever else one may name. Time will prove, if it has not already, that our old neighbor from Augusta has been the single greatest influence on contemporary dance music. Of course he is also the venerated, dues-paying, quintessential, "real thing" soul singer the state of Georgia never could evict. Heunh!

James Brown & the Famous Flames recorded the classic soul sides on the King label, including the most famous, such as "Cold Sweat" and "I Got You." But his last years on King and early years on Polydor/People were even richer times. Funk was developed and essentially exhausted by Brown and his People. Dozens of classic LPs and singles still hold up beautifully against almost everything funky produced since.

For many of his hits, some of the many compilations will suffice. But the number of alternate takes, secondary "parts," rare single sides, guest appearances, and so on is staggering. With a compilation LP and the original 45, it is possible to mix multiple segments and versions of the same great track. Add all the productions of the James Brown family of related artists, and the Godfather of Soul's music becomes an idiom unto itself.

Why am I beating the (funky) drum for James Brown at this particular time? Well for one, the owner of this blog issued instructions to keep the fires burning while he is off on his South American adventures. But more to the point, Polydor Records has released a new JB complilation entitled James Brown-Greatest Breakbeats that collects 24 of the most sampled songs from JB's body of work. (Personal favs of mine include "Papa Don't Take No Mess," "Get Up Offa That Thing," and "Funky Drummer").

The liner notes, while not as heavy on the history as other collections, list all known songs that took samples from each track (and the list is extensive). This is a whopper, and while the best place to start with JB is still the box set Star Time, if you had to limit yourself to one slim jewel box of the Godfather's, this would be the one.

I provide the Amazon link above for easy reference, but I buy all my music at www.dustygroove.com where this can be had for substantially less.

Now get up offa that thing!


By Anonymous Steve Bragg, at Mon Jun 06, 03:02:00 PM:

Sorry to be off-topic, TigerHawk, but did you know you made the Politburo's latest blog map?




By Anonymous Jim - PRS, at Tue Jun 07, 03:42:00 AM:

One of my longstanding fantasies is to play drums for a night with the "Fabulous Flames" and that kickass horn section.  

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