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James Brown's Funky People

4.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Audio CD, 1 Jul 1994
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Frequently bought together

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Product details

  • Audio CD (1 July 1994)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Import Music Services
  • ASIN: B000001FJT
  • Other Editions: Audio CD |  Audio Cassette |  Vinyl |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 21,053 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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Product description

Product Description

The first in the wildly popular three-disc series, James Brown's Funky People is an outstandingly chunky collection that spotlights some of the many talented musicians associated with James Brown and his early- to mid-'70s People Records imprint. The material comprising this disc is split primarily between the J.B.'s, Fred Wesley both with and without the J.B.'s, and one of funk's original divas, Lyn Collins. "Gimme Some More," "Pass the Peas," "Givin' up Food for Funk (Part 1)," and "Hot Pants Road" are the J.B.'s' offerings, spectacular studio recordings that highlight some of the band's best material for the label -- material which at the time was often passed over in favor of their "proper" James Brown recordings. Fred Wesley, meanwhile, weighs in with the CD-only long version of "Damn Right, I Am Somebody (Parts 1 & 2)," before joining the J.B.'s on three more tracks, including the epic "(It's Not the Express) It's the J.B.'s Monaurail (Part 1)." This particular song, credited to Fred and the New J.B.'s, was recorded during one of the more traumatic times in the James Brown camp and, when compared to the other classics on this CD, doesn't have the same spark or fire. And if anyone questioned the odd spelling in the title, the band's request that if you don't know what a monorail is "check out Seattle" clears up any doubt. The Lyn Collins tracks feature a mono version of "Mama Feelgood" and the outstanding "Think (About It)," a song that would become an iconoclastic symbol of the funk era, heavily sampled by over 40 artists during the 1980s and 1990s. Included, too, is the bonus "Same Beat (Part 1)," recorded by Wesley and the J.B.'s on September 7, 1973, in New York.

BBC Review

For a younger generation, the first wave of classic R&B compilations in the 80s was like peering through a window into another world. Kent’s For Dancers Only introduced many to the labyrinthine world of northern soul, while NME’s legendary Stompin’ at the Savoy alerted inquisitive minds to swing.

But possibly the greatest compilation of the era was James Brown’s Funky People, which shone a light on the Godfather of Soul’s productions and roster of artists from his People imprint (1971-1976). These artists – the J.B.’s, Lyn Collins, Fred Wesley and Maceo and the Macks – were then largely unknown in the UK.

At the time, Brown was going through a major revaluation – he scored a first UK top 10 hit with Living in America, from the Rocky IV soundtrack. Brown’s enormous influence on hip hop was also being recognised, as the growth of cheap technology meant that his off-the-peg beats were sampled to underpin many contemporary records.

Although credited to the other artists, Brown is all over this, arranging, producing, writing and playing. These strange, spindly, skeletal grooves – such as Pass the Peas, Gimme Some More and Damn Right, I Am Somebody – were made by people who knew the funk intimately. It was simply exhilarating.

Lyn Collins, aka the Female Preacher, sounds stupendous. The Human League had recently covered her Rock Me Again and Again… on their Hysteria album, and now listeners were able to enjoy the sass of the original. Think (About It) was to be sampled hundreds of times, most notably in Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock’s It Takes Two. Collins’ original is one of Brown’s most borrowed grooves.

This was inner-city music par excellence, each song complete with its own imaginary journey through a city’s brownstones. The success of James Brown’s Funky People led to two further volumes, one in 1988 and the last in 2000, which equally uncovered more treasures. But the original still sounds as fresh and surprising as it did in 1986.

The notion of "rare groove" seems odd today when everything is just a click away, and we have all become all our own compilers. But few self-assembled selections will ever have the authority and groove of this benchmark release.

--Daryl Easlea

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on 28 October 2017
Format: Audio CD|Verified Purchase
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on 14 February 2001
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on 20 July 2003
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on 7 August 2001
Format: Vinyl
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on 26 October 1999
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on 22 March 2010
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on 15 May 2016
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on 26 October 2006
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