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James Brown: Foundations of Funk


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James Brown initially invented step and repeatae funk with 'Please Please Please' (not present here). Even the title summed it up. Bang. Bang. Bang. Which is pretty much how 'Cold Sweat', 'It's a New Day' and 'Ain't It Funky Now' go on this glorious compilation. But not in straight 4/4 time obviously, these tracks are performed in the key signature of rutting animals.

The band legendarily followed JB's movements as a cue and used his spectacular routines as rhythm inspiration. James bumps and he triggers off a horn stab. He grinds and the band instantly switch up-tempo. He points a finger and invokes a $25 fine. No wonder the band was tight as a hot-panted mama.

This whopping double CD is the archivist's notion of funk. And a dream come true it is. We're treated to the previously edited single cuts of the late 60's/early 70's restored to their full original versions. Wheras most projects with out takes make you wish the extra material had remained in the vaults, this stuff is all 100% dynamite. Like the notorious artist who canned his own excrement and sold it, JB's casually lopped-off dog ends are primary source material. Early hip-hop was a mere franchise of JB, and the slower (real-time) 'Funky Drummer' is included. The looped remix has been so widely distributed that it is now considered by many to be the original. As a result of sample technology it is also (possibly) tatooed on the brains of lost Amazonian tribes who've never even heard of JB or for that matter even seen a record player.

Of course James Brown was as afraid of politics as he was a stone groove. He was way ahead of the pack in putting the "P" into funk. 'I Don't Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Open up the Door I'll Get It Myself)' virtually goes as far as advocating segregation: "We got talents we can use on our side of town" he preaches. "Don't give me intergration give me true communication". His call for roots is tempered with social conscience though: "Give me schools and give me better books, so I can read about myself and gain my truly looks".

But it's the sheer energy here that's astonishing. If you want to recharge your batteries you can get nothing more potent as far as I'm concerned. Just press play and get plugged into the mains.

So in conclusion: As an introduction to the Brother James this can do no wrong. As a completist's reference it's a dream . . . So what are you waiting for huh? Open up the door, go git it yourself!

Title: Foundations of Funk | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Polydor Records


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