In an effort to further explore the myriad and "Komplicated" musical tastes of the modern "post-Black" denizens of the world, we present Spin City, which will feature recommendations from some of the world’s finest DJs, headlined by the selections of our own "resident DJ," comic book fan, Star Wars and wrestling aficionado and all around swell guy, the world famous DJ Jedi [Facebook, Twitter and podcast]. He's graciously agreed to drop the science on musicology for you …
EDITOR'S NOTE: This column normally appears on Mondays, but this week … stuff happened. Let's move on.
Five Christmases ago, we lost (in my humble opinion) the most influential artist in modern music: The Godfather of Soul, James Brown. His music has provided the blueprint for a generation of soul, funk, hip hop, rock, pop, & dance music that is still being felt to this day. He was also one hell of a live performer. Every aspiring singer, b-boy, dancer, and choreographed wannabe pop star of the last 40 years has most likely taken a page or two from the James Brown playbook.
The consummate showman to the bitter end…and ever true to form, it makes perfect sense that Mr. Dynamite would pull a stunt like upstaging JesusTM on his special day by passing away.
I can't think of another performer, alive or dead, that has played such a direct and influential impact on the music I love.
This week's Spin City is dedicated to the music of (literally) the best to ever do it.
- "It's A New Day Medley" (Live)
James Brown's personal emcee/capeman Danny Ray gives one of the greatest recorded introductions of all time, before James goes into a medley of some of my favorite heaters from him.
- "I Got The Feelin'"
This is probably the first James Brown song I remember ever caring about. Blame that classic episode of The Cosby Show where the Huxtables perform this for Grandma & Grandpa Huxtable and young Rudy "Baby Baby Baby"'s her way into my eternal happy place. Cosby Show nostalgia aside: it's still just a great song.
- "Give It Up, Turn It Loose"
The unofficial international b-boy anthem. Things really start getting exciting at about the 3:36 mark, but the breakdown at 4:20 is the stuff of legends.
- "I Feel Good" (Funk Version)
I sho nuff feel good! The original version might be a staple of oldie-but-goodie radio station playlists and Johnny Rockets jukeboxes the world over, but this alternative version from the "Sex Machine Today" album puts the OG version to shame …
- Soul Pride" (Parts 1 & 2)
The list is constantly fluctuating, but "Soul Pride" might be my all time favorite James Brown joint ever. I could listen to the drum break at the 3:17 mark on a loop for an hour straight and not get tired of it. JB and crew were definitely on their B.I. with this one …
- "Funky Drummer"
Clyde Stubblefield's finest hour as a drummer, and arguably the most sampled song in the history of sampled songs. Here's an incomplete list for some perspective. Initially released as a two-sided single in 1969, it ironically never saw an official album release until it was included on the 1986 release of the In The Jungle Groove compilation. Entire genres of music were birthed from the f***ery that ensues at the 5:34 mark. If every artist that ever sampled "Funky Drummer" actually paid royalties owed on it, Clyde Stubblefield would be sitting on Google money right now. But yeah, classic …
Favorite James Brown-affiliated recordings and side projects:
- Lyn Collins, "Think"
"Dear Mr. Brown and Ms. Collins. Thank you for your brilliance. Without your now infamous once-second long 'Yeah! Whoo!' sample at the 1:25 mark of 'Think,' I would have no career, and there would be no foundation for my style of production, which I have affectionately coined 'New Jack Swing.' I am forever indebted to your greatness. Also, Rob Base says 'Hi.' — Sincerely, Teddy Riley."
- The J.B.'s, "The Grunt"
In addition to being an epic funk banger in its own right, this song is also one of my favorite JB joints because it's the sample source for two of my favorite Public Enemy Songs: "Rebel Without A Pause" and "Night Of The Living Baseheads." Hot molten lava from the first second it starts …
- Maceo & The Macks, "Soul Power"
The version with the James Brown vocals on it is cool, but the extended breakdown and subsequent payoff starting at the 1:58 mark are what make this version superior by far.
- Marva Whitney, "It's My Thang"
Maaan, listen. This woman could SANG. Not sing. SANG. Present tense. I listen to a voice like this and weep for the influx of talentless auto-tune pop debutantes that somehow have careers, but wouldn't be able to hold a candle to the likes of Ms. Whitney on their BEST day. Anyway … this is JB produced heatrock and Marva putting her proverbial foot in it.
- Lee Austin, "Steal Away"
Hip hop enthusiasts will recognize this as the sample source for Gang Starr's "What You Want This Time?" and BDP's "The Racist." James Brown enthusiasts will recognize this as the classic JB instrumental "Nose Job" from his 1970 Ain't It Funky LP … but with vocals. Sadly, an exhaustive Google search of "Lee Austin Steal Away" yielded no results that I actually steam online to share with you. Sorry. That being said: If you see me spinning at a show and request "Steal Away", chances are that I'll play it almost immediately. You'll probably also be fast tracked on my best friends' list: A) because you have great taste in music, and B) because it's proof that you read my column. LOL
This list is by no means even close to complete. It's not event the tip of the tip of the iceberg. A good portion of my music collection (at least several thousand songs), are directly attributable to the work of James Brown. Hopefully this serves as a springboard for you to discover the huge library of music. Happy listening.
UPDATE: Great minds think alike, evidently. Questlove from the Roots did his own Christmas tribute list to The Hardest Working Man In Show Business. Remember when I said James Brown was one hell of a performer? Follow Questo's Tweets from the morning of 12.26.11 to see his Top Ten James Brown live performances.
Next week: My obligatory BEST OF 2011 list.
Barring unforeseen challenges, Spin City should be waiting for you, right here on Komplicated.com, every Monday afternoon.
[Source: DJ Jedi]