At last…and no, this isn’t about Etta James.
There is a James that factors into this post, of course. I’m surprised no one has called me out on this.
I mean, how can I have a weekly post called Funky Friday, and not have James Brown in there somewhere?
Seven previous posts, and while he was mentioned in a couple of them, his music was nowhere to be found.
That has been rectified today, my dear readers. Feast your ears on what may be the origin jam of the whole funk movement. But even if it isn’t, it certainly is a foundational song in the genre. While I’ve read that Brown’s “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” deserves mention as the ground zero of funk, this is the song to me that is funk’s jumping off point.
I give you…”Cold Sweat.” All seven and a half funky minutes worth.
If I have an issue with James Brown in regards to Funky Friday, it’s that it could end up as James Brown Friday. I could post songs by him for weeks on end. He was the pioneer, the originator and the music’s first innovator. He changed the game. Records like the aforementioned “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” (though a lot of the basic structure of that song can be found on his earlier single “Out Of Sight”) and this one are two of the genre’s earliest examples.
Where do I begin? You could call it simplistic, since it doesn’t go very far. Only one real move and that’s to get to the bridge. But…that groove though. Clyde Stubblefield getting a drum solo, as James yells to “give the drummer some.” Maceo Parker with a saxophone solo, implored by Brown to “put it where it’s at now.” Brown telling Bernard Odum to play with Stubblefield on the drum break. Seemingly every grunt, shriek, and made up lyric fits right into that funky pocket. By the end, Brown is so overtaken by the funk, he can’t stop singing (ok, if that’s what he calls it; I call it the beginning of the end of his singing voice). Of course, as hit record after hit record would show after this, singing was not what Brown was really interested in. He was more interested in using every element, even his voice, in a percussive fashion on his songs. Every part proved to be a piece of the whole, and that whole was in service to his funky grooves.
“Cold Sweat.” An important song, not only in Brown’s catalogue of hits, but in the creation of funk as well. Enjoy the groove, and thanks for listening and reading. I hope you have a great weekend also!