Friday, January 22, 2010
I've already written about this record for trend-setting, paradigm-shattering web periodical Jettison Quarterly, but I really want to share it with my Primitive People. As such, here is the text that appeared in Jettison coupled with that mediafirewater.
James Brown not only had the luxury of being a complete godhead genius, he also had the luxury of being an astute talent scout, thus ensuring that he was always surrounded by the very best of the best. In this case, we’re talking about back-up singer Marva Whitney.
On this record, the ol’ J. Brown penned a bunch of tunes, and the ol’ M. Whitney took over lead vocal duties. At this point, Brown had already filtered gospel and soul through the twisted, boiling tubes and sieves of his brain in order to isolate the most essential elements. What remained was a deceptively simple structure of a few seventh chords, syncopated snare hits, and tight horn accents. When painted onto an aural canvas, these components became the quintessence of “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, as microcosms of human experience are isolated and implied recombinations open up new possibilities of existence.
A lot of these songs barely have vocal melodies, as Whitney is given free rein to improvise and embellish loosely over the minimalist grooves. Her belting, brassy voice soars unremittingly over the dancing worlds of mortals, while the band grounds the whole experience by tapping into rhythmic senses far beyond conscious control.