Rocks In The Attic #388: The J.B.s – ‘Groove Machine’ (1979)

RITA#388$6.78, brand new, from Amazon. You can’t complain about prices like that. Or can you? Is there a reason this slab of vinyl is under $10?

Well, yes, there is. If, like me, you bought a copy of the reissued Food For Thought – the J.B.s’ nail-on-the-head 1972 debut – last year on Record Store Day, and paid $40 for the privilege, then yes, this record’s probably only worth a fraction of that.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t terrible. It’s just nowhere as strong as their early ‘70s output. It’s probably a similar story for James Brown’s output from the same year. I haven’t heard 1979’s Take A Look At Those Cakes, where James documents his attempt at entering the world of competitive cake-baking, or the follow-up, The Original Disco Man, but I’d hazard a guess that they’re not amongst his best. It would seem that after inventing funk, the James Brown stable were doing their hardest to keep up with the disco trend rather than sticking to what they knew best.

Groove Machine isn’t a bad record. When you compare it to some of the more disco-heavy bands of the time, it’s pretty good. Funky trombonist Fred Wesley had decamped in 1976, and it’s probably his leadership that’s sorely missing. It just doesn’t sound like the J.B.s.

I don’t know if it’s a comment on the quality of the music on the record, but the centre label doesn’t seem to want to own up to being any particular side. Both side A and side B are listed as being on the other side. Hmm, maybe that explains the $6.78 price tag…

Hit: Rock Groove Machine

Hidden Gem: Rock

RITA#388a

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