Monday, February 23, 2009

some funky shit/re-up (comme la téléphone)

James Brown and the JBs, "Get on the Good Foot/Soul Power/Make It Funky," live on Soul Train, 2/10/73
Anyone deep into funk will surely be aware of this stuff already, but lately I find myself obsessed with the Man himself--of course I've been into James since I was but a wee lad on the weeping banks of the River Shannon and me pappy told me stories of Michael Collins and Eamon DeValera whilst he did intone "Roddy McCorley" and "Kevin Barry" (facts may have been changed to reflect false history), and I think we're all fairly well appraised of the clichés regarding his music, but I think part of what's drawing me back is the timbral acuity he virtually always demonstrates. Clearly, he knew as well as anyone, perhaps better than anyone, that a major part of ça qui le fait «fonky» is the specific sound--you must pay attention, ouais?

A couple trax that I posted to my Facebook which are worth the attention of those who didn't catch them the first time:

Joe Pass, "A Time for Us," Guitar Interludes (1969)
As I mentioned on the first time around, I really can't summon even a morsel of enthusiasm for Pass' extraordinarily gabacho haute-lounge versions of bop and vocal standards arranged for one guitar, but this obvious late '60s cash-in attempt is that rare case in which the artist lunging after some teenbeat cash is much more interesting than the drive of his, ahem, muse. Sort of an Axelrod-meets-Shuggie-Otis vibe on this cover of the great Nino Rota's "A Time for Us," written for Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet ...

... and as long as I'm preaching to the convertibles, I'll mention that I can't think of that particular fleeek without calling to mind Bruce Robinson's extraordinary 1986 film Withnail & I; Robinson was Benvolio in Zeffirelli's Shakespeare adaptation, and the line in Withnail in which the titular character speculates on the services rendered by a fellow actor ("Look at this: 'Boy actor lands plum role in Italian film' ...£10 a week, and I know what for: £2 and 6 a tit and a fiver for his arse") was apparently inspired by the Italian director's constant attempts to fuck Robinson. A little-known film Stateside, but I'd put it in any list of the 5 or 10 funniest movies ever made.

William Onyeabor, "Better Change Your Mind," Whatever You Sow (1970)
Remarkable Nigerian funk single: the demure gentleness of Onyeabor's voice is an interesting counterpoint to the anti-First World politics of the lyric, and the combination of Leslie'd guitar jabs, post-kosmichemusik drums, and a seriously cheap-sounding electric organ is pure Afrobeat.