Disco may be dead, but soul sure ain't
Jono Baron gives his own scoop on the Godfather of Soul in this special James Brown tribute review of “Funk Power 1970: A Brand New Thang”
By Jono Baron
Gargoyle senior editor
Posted Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006, The OG, arts
EVEN WITH THE recent loss of the Godfather of Soul himself, the spirit of soul goes on. I've liked soul for a while — on the other hand, why wouldn't I — but it wasn't until today, Dec. 30, when I purchased James Brown's “Funk Power 1970: A Brand New Thang,” that I truly appreciated the genre.
I mean, yeah, I've heard “The Payback,” “Soul Power,” and (of course) “Get On Up I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine,” and have enjoyed all of them, but I swear, when I slipped this puppy into my car's stereo system, something came over me. Maybe it was just my mood, or my knowledge of current events — my own tribute to James Brown. But the fact remains: When I heard that man's voice playing, I was more than “ready to get up and do my thing.”
Like the album's subtitle denotes, the sound I heard was “a brand new thang.” And the great part is, since this album offers an assortment of Brown's work, spanning the 1970s, the magic just keeps on comin'.
“Funk Power” is certainly an exceptionally well-mixed compilation of Brown's music, with the classics like “Soul Power” and “Get On Up I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine,” but it's certainly not limited to that. The album (which plays for nearly 80 minutes) even debuts a previously unreleased song, “There Was A Time (I Got To Move).” In addition to that, “Funk Power” features the original James Brown band, with Bootsy Collins, Bobby Byrd, Phelps “Catfish” Collins, and Jabo Starks, for all the long-time James Brown fans out there.
What's great is that you don't have to be a full-fledged James Brown veteran to fully appreciate this album. Just so long as you can feel the soul, this playlist has you covered. And I mean, come on — I started this album in the middle of a downtown Champaign parking lot, and I still had trouble resisting the urge to get up and jive … and I'm about as unfunky as you can get. Truly, the “Funk Power” is strong enough to overtake anybody.
But even if just jumpin' up and groovin' isn't exactly your scene, James Brown doesn't need to be danced to. Because, while that resistance to plain old fun strongly implies you have serious issues (or, alternatively, a major lack of taste), there's also no shame in just slipping on some James Brown and chilling out.
And really, that's the beauty I've discovered in this album. It's perfect for anyone, anytime. Whether you're into the whole notion of soul and funk and are honoring the Big Man's memory, or you just want something smooth, lively, and interesting to put on the stereo, James Brown's “Funk Power” delivers.
No matter what kind of mood you're in, this album is perfect for the scene. Feelin' blue? Pop on the J.B. for a nice pick-up. Out on the town with some good friends? Just kick those heels up and get ready to sing, ‘cause you wanna boogie to J.B. That versatility, if nothing else, is exactly why you want to listen to this record.