Friday, May 4, 2012

James Brown Month: Wall of Browned pt. 1 - Yvonne Fair

It's hard enough making sense of the number of records James Brown put out under his own name, let alone the number of records he "produced".

But that's not going to stop us from highlighting some of the best ones.

In this case, the recordings of Miss Yvonne Fair.

Is it me or does JB look like Ike Turner in this photo?

Sugar Pie DeSanto, Bea Ford, Marva Whitney, Tammy Montgomery, Lynn Collins, Vicki Anderson, Anna King . . . they all served in that vaguely creepy spot as James Brown's opening "girl" act and occasional duet partner.  But none of them produced records I love as much as I love the ones JB concocted for Yvonne Fair and her weird little shrill "ow"'s.  He seems to have lavished extra attention on them, or at least extra organ - maybe Yvonne got lucky that JB was working out his organ playing (not to mention his brand new bag) in the early 60s when he cut her best sides.

Speaking of vaguely creepy, this has got to be the eeriest and least textually convincing version of "You Can Make It If You Try" ever laid down.  Sounds like the aforementioned Ike Turner's "Sinner's Dream" or something.

JB on creepy organ and the rolls of the devil,
 the boatman and the murdered best friend

But the flip is the Mother, a sped-up, guitar blasting version of Annie Laurie's old King classic "It Hurts to Be in Love", complete with start/stop action and proto-Fred Wesley trombone solo.

This double sided gem was actually the second record Brown produced on Fair - the first was this prototype version of "I Got You (I Feel Good)" called "I Found You".  Recorded 3 years before "I Got You" was finally released!

But JB sent his mightiest Yvonne Fair production, "Say Yeah Yeah", over to Dade, his potato-port in a storm when Syd Nathan wasn't feeling up to releasing something because it was too weird or because his stomach was acting up or whatever. Brown had already released the "Mashed Potatoes" series under Nat Kendrick's name at Dade (resulting in the birth of King Coleman) so why not drop a brilliant, years ahead of schedule (and anonymous - Brown's name does not appear on the record) funk bomb on the place, as his last production for the label?  

Fair sings with much more authority on this record than on her earlier ones, and whoever is playing drums taught Clyde Stubblefield a thing or three. Add Brown organ and Famous Flame back up vocals.  Result: major league dance floor monstrosity.

JB produced one more 45 for Yvonne, on Smash, before moving on to other soul sisters.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

James Brown Month: Godfather in the Garage part 2 - Link Wray "Hold It"

Link Wray savaging the James Brown Band instro "Hold It".

James Brown says it loud: Chonnie on Chon & I Feel That Old Feeling

It's difficult to say much original about an artist as revered and well documented as JB, but maybe we can reshuffle some old elements and come up with something "new", that in and of itself being a classic James Brown technique.

In addition to James Brown the soul man and James Brown the minister of the new new super heavy funk, James Brown the balladeer and James Brown the smooth jazz organist, James Brown the pop crooner and James Brown the spoken word poet, all of whom I'm sure will show up here in one form or another over the course of the month, there's also James Brown, maker of a totally crazy loud racket, or, until something better comes along, James Brown: Rock and Roller.

Brown got a lot of his impulse to sheer frantic rhythmic excitement from Little Richard (he also got his hair, his first manager, and one of his first bands from Little Richard) so it's only fitting that we start pursuing this vein in the Brown mines with this crazed melding of Little Richard and Roy Brown from 1956, "Chonnie-On-Chon".

Near as I can tell, "Chonnie-On-Chon" is supposed to be roughly the equivalent of "Bama-Lama-Bama-Lou" or "Whop Bop a Lu Bop a Whop Bam Boom", while the verses of the song recall the events of "Good Rockin' Tonight".  

Soul Brother #1's soul brother number one, Bobby Byrd, georgia peaches the keys.

And speaking of way out takes on Brown's influences, his very first session for Federal produced this spectacularly wild version of Wynonie Harris's "I Feel That Old Age Coming On".  The title is tweaked to better reflect the fact that James was disinclined to feel old age (because that would require getting tired).  But, really, the song should have almost been called "I, James Brown" because in his wild shrieks at the beginning of each verse he announces his unprecedented ego to the world by shrieking "I . . . I . . I  . . . I-I-I-I" over and over again.  He's so far gone by the end of the song that he forgets to say "I feel that old feeling coming on" at the end of the song and reverts back to the original lyric.  

Second link from ike ike ike ike ikedyson71's indispensable all JB youtube channel

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

James Brown Month: BOCKY & THE VISIONS - Godfather in the Garage Part 1

The first in a JB Month Series featuring some of the greatest garage/frat performances of James Brown classics.

Today we've got this classic from Cleveland wailers Bocky and the Visions, hitting it TWO TIMES and taking it into the REDDA with "I Go Crazy" and "Good Good Lovin'".

Ten dollar two sider alert

More about Bocky

James Brown Month History Lesson: Mr. Dynamite Unauthorized

Interesting for expert and novice alike, here's a compilation of documentaries, news clips and TV appearances from Soul Brother Ichiban. The first hour is a British documentary from the late 70s (first 20 minutes, VERY interesting - Brown shoots pool, combs his hair, negotiates a deal on a show, goes to Africa) and an 80s US documentary (a useful career trajectory).   The second hour is shorter TV interviews and features from the 80s when Brown's career was really being reappriased by the mainstream. The Dick Cavett feature with interviews with Little Richard (starts at 1:10) is especially worth watching

 It's a mixed bag, and hardly all new (it eventually starts covering the same material more times than Brown recorded versions of "Please Please"). AND every ten minutes there's an ad for some IT synergistic something or other that stands in marked contrast to whatever funky thing is going on in the documentary. However, it's worth a bookmark and slow troll through the footage. I had to see it all, anyway.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Artist of the Month: SOUL BROTHER ICHIBAN

This month, Rock 'n' Soul Ichiban delves into the unparalleled career of the King of 45s, the DJ's best friend, the man who taught the world to dance . . . with hits like: SUDS! HOT! SUPER SLICK . . .  SUPER BAD!  MONEY WON'T CHANGE YOU!  CHONNIE ON CHON!  AND I DO JUST WHAT I WANT!  TELL ME THAT YOU LOVE ME!  Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Licking Stick, Brother Rapp Rapp himself . . . the hardest rocking man in history . . . James Brown!

We open our ceremonies with this amazing choral tribute to the king, the king of soul, performed by a group of Rochester, New York elementary school students, led by their teacher Nancy Dupree on an album recorded for Smithsonian-Folkways called Ghetto Reality

Give the poor little shoe shine boy some!

Make sure your bad self joins us for all of JB's birth month for rare tracks, videos & photos, an interview with RJ Smith, author of The One, the newly published Brown biography, and much more.  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Amazing Story of the Joe Tex/James Brown Feud

"Money won't change you, Joe - but I will take you out! Payback!"
"You better hold on, James - I don't play! I'll go upside your head!"

Joe Tex and James Brown were bitter rivals. The beef started over a controversy about stage moves. JT thought JB swiped his trademark microphone kicking tricks. JB claimed JT stole them from him. This led to an escalating series of thefts and public jabs that stands up to any modern day hip-hop feud. After all, Joe Tex was the original rapper.

Things started heating up when Jay-B covered a new Jay-T single, "Baby You're Right".

The singers released the cuts around the same time, but Brown had the bigger hit, reaching number two R&B and scoring on the pop chart. Joe was still wandering the wilderness in terms of record sales, so the drubbing on the charts had to sting.

It probably didn't help that James hands Joe his Tex ass, performance wise. How did Joe miss the opportunity to rap over that boring organ solo in the middle?

(not to mention the fact that Brown took half the songwriting credit for his version)

The battle began in earnest when JB stole JT's girlfriend, Bea Ford. Then, just to twist the knife, JB sent JT a letter telling him that he was through with the Bea and Joe could have her back.

This led to the magnificent diss record "You Keep Her", where Joe calls James out by name, saying he was better off without the Bea anyway.

The situation came to a head at a double-billed gig in Macon, Georgia. JB hadn't played his home turf in a while. JT opened the highly anticipated homecoming. He came onstage wearing a ratty, torn blanket, fell down on his knees, grabbed his back like he was in terrible pain, tangled himself up, and hollered, "Please! Please! Please! Get me out of this cape!"

Joe Tex did that opening for James Brown.

In Macon, Georgia.

Wayne Cochran says so!

JB was furious, and trailed JT to an after-show at a local juke joint, Club 15. The band at the gig just happened to be the Otis Redding and the Pinetoppers. Brown grabbed a couple of shotguns, went inside, and started firing at Tex, Omar style! Someone in the bar returned fire, and Joe fled out the back, while Otis and Johnny Jenkins hid behind the piano. Apparently seven people were injured in the crossfire. JB ran back to his tour bus, got behind the wheel, and took off.

"Remember that time James Brown shot up the Club 15 tryin'
to kill Joe Tex and you had to hide behind the piano?"

Eventually the two patched things up enough for Joe to pen the immortal line: "If I was a dancefloor, James Brown could mash potatoes on me all night long!"

Check out page two of this great article about Brown by Scott Freeman, written for Atlanta's Creative Loafing in 2007, and this summary of the beef by James McAllister.

It's all true!

Wayne Cochran wouldn't lie!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

James Brown Knows What To Do

Gino Washington - Do You Have That Soul? (mp3)

Happy Birthday, Godfather.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

James Brown Thinking About Little Willie John and a few Nice Things

James Brown - Cottage For Sale
James Brown - Talk To Me, Talk To Me