Thursday, December 28, 2006

Friday YouTube: James Brown, 1933-2006

What a way to start Christmas. I sign on to AOL to see a picture of James Brown, with the caption "He made us feel good." Shit.

Forced to choose the most important rock artist of the 60's, my answer would be James Brown, who freed up rock's rhythms in a way analagous to Dylan's freeing of rock's lyrical content. Prior to "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" (or actually "Out of Sight"), rock songs were generally straightforward rythmically. The Bo Diddley beat was about as far out as it got. James Brown introduced a world of polyrhythmic syncopation that went straight back to Africa, with every instrument functioning as a drum, and multiple lines of rhythm snaking in and out of each other. The Godfather probably couldn't concieve of Led Zeppelin, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Miles Davis' 70's albums, or the entire genre of hip hop, but none of these would be possible without his rhythmic emancipation.

And of course, James and his band produced some of the greatest, most energetic, hard-edged rock n roll records ever recorded. No party mix is complete without a couple James Brown funk jams on the mix.

I was going to do a little biographical post here, but there's so many people more qualified than I to do so. Funky 16 Corners and Soul Sides have great tributes to the man up. Go check them out.

My top 5:

Bring It Up!
Make It Funky!
Ain't It Funky Now? (Live version from LovePowerPeace)
I Can't Stand Myself (When You Touch Me)
Don't Be a Dropout

James Brown throughout his career:

In the pre-funk 60's, dancing like a madman on The T.A.M.I. show to "Nighttrain!"

In the late 60's, tearing up "Cold Sweat" with the original J.B.'s!

In 1970 he fired his band and hired a bunch of young punks, including Bootsy Collins on bass and his brother Phelps "Catfish" Collins, one of my favorite guitarists of all time. His guitar solos make me wanna jump out of my skin!

By the 80's, Brown's popularity had become so great that he had his own prime time TV show, James Brown's Celebrity Hot Tub Party!

More at Soul Sights!


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