This is the first studio album of Brown’s that wasn’t a compilation that I’ve ever heard and I have no idea what to do with it. This is Brown’s 38th studio album, which is insane. Brown’s output is just insane which is why most of us are just better off with the boxed set of singles. How does one view this record without having listening to at least some of those 37 previous records? how does one view this without a deep knowledge of where funk was in June of 1972. I don’t have the knowledge of the genre (beyond Read More
Someone described this record as Prince’s White Album. This is only the second Prince album I’ve ever heard (I know, I know) but I still think that’s pretty apt. There’s a range of music here that is kind of incredible, especially given how much of the record he made himself. Read More
I was only familiar with this band from listening to Oldies Radio too much when I was a kid, and from borrowing a Greatest Hits compilation from my dad some time in the last 15 years. Neither of those things could have prepared me for this record. Read More
Otis is my favourite soul singer but I find him more restrained in the studio than live and generally prefer his live music. (Or maybe it’s just the mixes…) His final album is a strong set of covers and originals with an excellent backing band. I prefer Otis Blue in terms of content, but this is still a pretty good idea of what he did, and how well he did it. “Complete” it is not (the original record isn’t quite 25 minutes long). Nor is it some kind of encyclopedic overview of the genre. But it’s good stuff. 8/10 Read More
1996, Alt Gospel, Garage Punk, Garage Rock Revival, Gospel yeah yeah, Music, Post Punk, and Soul.
When I first listened to this faux-live album I thought “Holy MC5 Batman.” At least initially, this band sounded like they were just MC5 worshipers, albeit in the best of ways. But that’s a really superficial reading of this music and also a misunderstanding of both this band and the MC5, who may be inspired by some of the same things. On closer listening, this is much more than just the Garage Rock revival it appears to be. It’s right for them to call their style gospel, as this is firmly influenced by the same gospel tradition that influenced the Read More
I’m glad that Wonder was breaking away from the creative constraints of his label and his handlers. And maybe, if I’d heard those earlier albums, I’d see more daring in this record, in his freeing himself creatively. I’d like to hear that, but without listening to those earlier records, I can’t. Instead, I hear a precocious, bratty kid who has just discovered a whole lot of things including, it seems, some philosophy. And like anyone in their early twenties, he’s really obnoxious about it. (I mean, we can’t possibly know what he’s just learned, right?) His lyrics that aren’t about Read More
This is a strong, southern soul debut, with lots of gritty singing and the usual music you would expect from the MGs and the Mar-Keys. The one thing I can say in criticism is the lyrics are rather awful, but this is soul we’re talking about. 8/10 Read More
I have heard so much about Al Green, I guess I was bound to be disappointed. This is very competent, able smooth soul. Green is undeniably a great performer. But I like my music with a little oomph behind it. As someone who values both grit and history, it’s hard for me to understand why this is considered such a classic (by critics anyway) when it glosses over and doesn’t appear to improve upon what went before it. Well, anyway, I’m definitely not the audience. Fine, but I’m not going to go out of my way to listen to more. Read More
I came to James Brown – and soul, funk and so forth – rather late in life, compared to most other genres I have an interest in. And, regardless, I would have never been able to see the Godfather in his prime, had I even wanted to. But I think Charles Bradley probably gave me the closest taste I am going to get. Bradley’s band is a hilarious group of young, almost entirely white, hipsters who play ‘60s Stax-style soul, and ‘60s funk. Bradley himself does a bit of a James Brown thing, with his own spin, but you could Read More
I don’t like the aesthetic. That wouldn’t matter if Earle was a great songwriter. However, he just an above-average songwriter. Everything is impeccably produced and arranged; although the different genre homages hit the right notes. And that’s probably the problem. Unless, those genres are your thing, it’s hard to love this: he doesn’t exactly bring anything knew to them. It would be nice if he had found a better, more consistent aesthetic to match his songs. Or, if he was truly committed to this genre-hoping aesthetic, it would be nice if he had written better songs. 6/10 Read More
A great combination of funk and traditional New Orleans sounds. The real deal, I suspect (though I have never been here). I can’t really imagine anyone recording this with the aim of selling records outside of New Orleans. 8/10 Read More
She is certainly talented. But for me the songs are not strong enough to make me like this more than any other singer-songwriter out there (and how many are out there?). The aesthetic is fine. Hopefully she will write some better songs in the future. 6/10 Read More
Ray Charles was a very important musician in the history of soul music but you don’t really get that here. Instead you get many of his hits, some of which are in an altogether different genre (which is fine). But it’s really hard to tell he’s a great innovator from this selection. He sounds rather old-timey actually. Certainly it does a poor job of living up to its title. I’m sure there are better compilations out there. 7/10 Read More
1956, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1979, 1988, 2003, Compilation, Funk, Music, R and B, and Soul.
James Brown’s importance can not be understated. He is on The List of the most important musical figures of the twentieth century (along with Louis Armstrong, the Beatles, Miles Davis, Dylan, Duke Ellington, Schoenberg, Stockhausen, Frank Zappa and maybe a few others). This compilation of his hit singles gives a very idea of his progression and how he turned gritty soul and R and B into funk and thus got sampled more than any other band leader ever. The one downside is that this compilation of his hit singles is missing one of his biggest hits. Hard to understand that one. Read More