Oh, another reviewing protocol dilemma. This box set showcasing James Brown’s career could be reviewed as a single item, but it is effectively 4 distinct CDs, so I’m treating them as such…
I chased up this collection after reading about in a fantastic history of Funk book. It was heralded as the definitive collection from the Godfather of Soul.And it is pure gold.
The box set is pretty much in chronological order, so you can see the evolution of Brown’s sound. Disk 1 encompasses the most substantial transformation. On the early tracks he is very much in the soul world, with sweet singing, do-wops and the like. The tunes could just as easily come from anyone across the Motown, Chess etc world.
It’s all cute and catchy, but it only gives a hint of the huge leap Brown was about to make. By I’ll Go Crazy, the beats and bass are starting to take over, and Brown’s vocals are taking on a more rhythmic role. Think sees us well and truly in the new world of funk. We start to hear basslines, horn riffs and the like that sound very, very familar. That’s because they would later become the most sampled sounds in hip-hop.
This is wonderful and captivating stuff. The CD closes out with a great 6:56 minute long 3-part version of Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag which was edited down to make his classic single. This version is better and even groovier.
Brown was a true icon and this CD starts to show us why.
File under: Get some funk in your trunk