Articles by Jim Connelly
Jim Connelly has been eye-deep in media of all kinds ever since he can remember, and probably prior to that. Over the past quarter-century he has worked in the radio, film, music, and internet industries, and has been writing about popular culture and technology the entire time. Prior to co-founding Medialoper, Jim's work appeared both online and off in publications such as Wired, The Village Voice, Neumu and Websight Magazine . . .
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Album: Star Time!
One of the most cleverly titled songs in Brown’s entire canon, “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine,” deploys the parenthesis in the title with the same deadly accuracy his brand-new guitarist plays the lick that powers the song.
That new guitarist, one Phelps “Catfish” Collins, was instrumental in Brown moving his music away from the horns and towards a smaller, but no less funky sound.
Album: Star Time!
It doesn’t matter whether James Brown came up with or allowed himself to be called “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business.” In fact, it doesn’t matter whether or not he was: I mean, how do you actually rate that? Is there some kind of show business work scale? Or Top Ten List?
And note that he wasn’t just the hardest-working man in Soul or the hardest-working man in Music. Nope: James Motherfucking Brown was the hardest working man in all of Show Business! He worked harder than Lucille Ball and Jimmy Stewart and Jerry Lee Lewis. He worked harder than Willie Mays and Walter Cronkite and Norman Mailer.
Album: I Can’t Stand Myself When You Touch Me
James Brown was absolutely on fire in 1967.
And on no song did that fire burn hotter than the absolutely scorching “Get It Together,” which takes the super funky groove of songs like “Cold Sweat” and then ups the tempo to a ridiculous degree.
Album: Cold Sweat
Everything is percussion. That, of course, is the formal innovation of James Brown’s mid-1960s funk: to treat every single instrument in the room as a percussion instrument.
And with its stop-start horns, bass, and drums, and of course the chickenscratch guitars of Jimmy Nolen and Country Kellum, “Cold Sweat” might be the epitome of that innovation.
Album: James Brown Sings Raw Soul
“Don’t Be A Dropout,” has often been credited as James Brown’s first socially conscious song, but he didn’t even write it. A guy named Burt Jones wrote, which is probably why it’s a weird hybrid of Brown’s driving funk and a flat-out pop song.
And, as always, with a song that’s so preachy, I wonder if it persuaded any kids — black or white — to actually stay in school. Like, they were teetering on the verge of dropping out, but then “Don’t Be a Dropout” came on the radio, and they were all like, “nah, man, I’m going to stay in school.”
Though I should point out that it wasn’t just James Brown: Otis Redding also recorded a pretty great song on the same subject, so maybe it was useful.