The godfather of soul. Without Mr. James Brown, many a funk, soul and R&B artist would not sound the way they do. His career in the 60's was fantastic with such hits as "Night Train" and "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" are classics. For my dollar, it all came to a pinnacle in 1970 with the release of the live album Sex Machine that Brown brought the raw sexual power and ultimately fantastic catchy beat with his sprawling song "Get Up I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine." The precursor to sub genres of funk are laid in this foundation. This track was the introduction of sorts of Bootsy and Catfish Collins as well as the awesome call response that we'd see in go-go music as well as hip-hop. For the first time in a while, a song that is basically completely static comes along and shows how with one catchy riff and an explosive and dynamic lead vocal, you can keep people coming back for more.
It's really all about Mr. James Brown here. Nothing else can compare to the power he brings to the microphone. Without this bravado, the styles of Michael Jackson or even Iggy Pop may not have come about. James Brown flourished in the live forum and even on the Sex Machine record, we get a sense of this visceral performance. Having been in a local band, I found out how important it was when the only thing you have between yourself and the audience is your microphone that your body became your instrument. James Brown made it cool to flail onstage and get up (get on up) and allow his sexual energy transform into showmanship. And this never infringed on his singing. He would get tired, but the panting and primal rhythmic nature of his vocal performances allowed this. Truly riveting.
Up Next: 1971 begins with an ode to The Day the Music Died (all you naysayers, shut your mouth.)