Thursday, May 10, 2012

James Brown says it LOUD part 2: More KING ragers

This is the second post in our series spotlighting the the most manic, crazy James Brown sides out there, the ones that sacrifice either traditional rhythm and blues structures OR the repetitive patterns that became funk for sheer rhythmic excitement and agitation. We're calling them James Brown's Rock and Roll for now, but I can't shake the feeling that's not quite right.

First up is another Roy Brown cut - "Love Don't Love Nobody", the b-side to "I Don't Mind" (which, let's just take a moment to note, is further proof that James Brown 45s are the best 45s of all the 45s). On the Messin' with the Blues double CD there's a fascinating false start where you can actually hear King owner Syd Nathan crabbing to the engineer about JB's performance. "Needs more melody" he grumps, and "Don't sing so HARD", he mutters. Aside from being a hilarious example of Brown and Nathan's contentious relationship, it's interesting that the things Brown was going for in this and later recordings (de-emphasized melody, the hardest of all singing) are exactly the things Nathan discourages here.

sorry about the ridiculous graphics on this youtube

The hard singing, lack of melody, and tendency towards rhythmic chaos is also present on 1960's "And I Do Just Want I Want".  Like "Love Don't Love", the primary instrument up top is a wandering guitar riff, but this time Les Buie plays it on the lower strings, giving it a bassier drive. It's an even more spare arrangement, too - a single sax wails a weird atonal figure around a shuffling drumbeat while Brown parties it up philosophic like.  


In 1962, JB released "I've Got Money (Now I Need Love)". He'd produced a more traditional version of this song for Baby Lloyd in 1960, but his own version is much farther out there, with what's been called the first funk drum beat and a manic horn chart that gives him the chance to sing as hard as he could possibly want. 

Tell the truth, Snaggle Tooth!

With their virtual abandonment of melody and a typical song structure, this stuff is as wild and raw as music gets.  In fact, I think the only one term we can use to commodify these tracks:  let's call it Free James Brown.