Friday, December 29, 2006

James Brown

I was saddened to hear about the death of James Brown although, honestly, I hadn't listened to any of his stuff in a long time. I went through a James Brown phase in the late '70's, after I got my hands on a couple of import compilations that were amazing. (The heighth of my respect and admiration for James Brown came on New Years Eve, 1980, when a couple of guys from the band Madness somehow ended up at my apartment in the East Village, and we played - alternately - songs by Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra and James Brown, all the while drunkenly yelling about how they "swung," and how no modern singer could hold a fucking candle to them. Or words to that affect. It was really hard to understand what those guys were saying.)
Eventually Brown's insane, angel dust-fueled behavior, and having to hear people tell me what a fucking genius he was over and over, made me lose interest in him.
What still amazes me, however, is how astoundingly good Brown's back-up musicians were, best evidenced, in my opinion, by the work of Fred Wesley and the JB's. They found a groove that was like the rhythm of the universe, and then they decorated it. Oh yeah, they swung like a motherfucker.
Fred Wesley and the JB's - These Are the JB's
Fred Wesley and the JB's - It's the JB's Monorail (Parts 1 & 1)

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