Rocks In The Attic #840: Various Artists – ‘James Brown’s Funky People’ (1986)

RITA#840You wait twenty years for a reissue of this album (and its funky Part 2 follow-up) to come along, and all the funk-heads in Auckland race to the record store.

Last Friday, I received Southbound Record’s weekly email around 11am, and dashed out as soon as I could. I ended up snagging their last copy of this first volume, but somebody had beat me to the store’s only copy of Part 2. The helpful guy on the counter said that they hadn’t ordered as many copies of Part 2, thinking that it wouldn’t have been very popular, but in the end everybody that came in for Part 1 also asked for Part 2.

Such is the power of this collection: 46 minutes of unbelievable funk, split over a DJ-friendly four sides. Originally released in 1986, to capitalise on James’ newfound status as the hardest working sample in hip-hop, the compilation gathers together the best singles from his People record label. All but one song is recorded by the J.B.’s, James’ backing band led by funky trombonist Fred Wesley (the exception is Lyn Collins’ Rock Me Again & Again & Again & Again & Again & Again, which for some reason features Collin’s vocal against a backing track of unknown studio musicians).

As a result, the album is unbelievably cohesive for what is essentially a compilation of ‘various artists’. For the most part, it represents the J.B.’s greatest hits, and is easily the greatest achievement of a backing band this side of Booker T. & The M.G.’s. Pure desert island disc stuff.

It’s just the tonic for what’s happening in the world right now with the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Today, New Zealand closed its borders to non-New Zealanders, and so the only thing to do is sit it out. Looks like my record player is going to get a workout…

Hit: Pass The Peas – The J.B.’s

Hidden Gem: Hot Pants Road – The J.B.’s

RITA#840a

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