James Brown’s Funky People, Pt. 2

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You have to be deaf or from Mars to not instantly recognize Bobby Byrd’s deep, resonant voice from James Brown’s “Sex Machine”– he’s the guy in the call-and-response routine with James, singing “Get on up!” And thank Providence that the Godfather of Soul allowed the little people a chance to strut their stuff, ’cause this album is packed with gems. Bobby Byrd shines on the all-time classic cut “I Know You Got Soul”, the song that later revived interest in all things J.B. when Eric B. & Rakim sampled it in the mid-80’s. In fact, most of the songs on this album have been put to use in classic hip-hop records, for instance Bobby Byrd’s other track, “Hot Pants… I’m Coming, I’m Coming, I’m Coming”, perhaps the slamminest on this collection, was manipulated to great effect by Marley Marl for Big Daddy Kane’s “Raw”. My only disappointment, as far as Bobby Byrd is concerned, is that his amazing tune “Keep On Doin’ (What You’re Doin’ Baby)” is overlooked here.
But no bother, ’cause there’s much to make up for it. “Soul Power ’74” by Maceo & The Macks is a showcase for the tightest horn section in history, over an instrumental version of “Soul Power”. Not only is this particular record sampled more than hors douvres in a supermarket aisle, it contains samples itself in the form of tape overlays of civil rights rallies, a Dr. King speech, and an announcement of King’s assassination. This track and several others are also available on the JB’s Anthology, but don’t let that scare you away…

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