James Brown – In the Jungle Groove (1986/2003)

James Brown - In the Jungle Groove (1986/2003)
Artist: James Brown
Album: In the Jungle Groove
Genre: Funk / Soul
Label: Universal / Polydor
Released: 1986/2003
Quality: FLAC (image+.cue)
Tracklist:
It’s a New Day (1969) (Brown) – 6:25
Funky Drummer (prevously unissued on album) (1969) (Brown) – 9:16
Give It Up or Turnit a Loose (Remix) (1970) (Charles Bobbit) – 6:12
I Got to Move (1970) (Brown) – 7:18
Funky Drummer (Bonus Beat Reprise) (Edited by Danny Krivitt) (Brown) – 2:59
Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothing (Remix) (1970) (Brown, Bobby Byrd) – 7:45
Get Up, Get into It, Get Involved (Mono) (1970) (Brown, Byrd, Lenhoff) – 7:08
Soul Power (Re-edit) (Mono) (Edited by Danny Krivitt) (1971) (Brown) – 8:02
Hot Pants (She Got to Use What She Got to Get What She Wants) (1971) (Brown) – 8:44

Bonus:
Blind Man Can See It (Extended) (1972) (Brown) – 7:19

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James Brown turned 70 this year, and while most great-grandparents are settling down on their lake house patio, or complaining about the nursing home food, last I heard, James was busy scaring the shit out of solicitors at his South Carolina home. With that in mind, it’s good to know his legacy and legend are in safe keeping via his music, and the myriad compilations detailing the facets of his genius. In the Jungle Groove was originally issued in 1986, just as interest in Brown’s backbeats reawakened via the power of sampling in hip-hop, and cut for cut, it’s in the highest category of Brown compilations, standing tall alongside any of his greatest hits sets (and even the Star Time box). It’s not that it necessarily covers a lot of ground, or even gives a good overall view of Brown’s career– because it really only spans a short period from late 1969 until mid 1971, with a bonus track from 1972 added for this reissue– but those years were particularly fertile, and this set nails them.

The early 70s is generally viewed as Brown’s last really great period, but it’s not without problems. For starters, his band underwent two complete overhauls: after working with the same basic core since about 1964 (with minor fluctuations as during Maceo and Melvin Parker’s military stints), mutiny reared its ugly head in the spring of 1970. With trombonist Fred Wesley checking out to L.A., Maceo took his ball and the rest of the band and went on the road his own damn self. Without anyone to back him, Brown was in dire straights– that is until right hand man Bobby Byrd called long-distance to the Cincinnati residence of William (“Bootsy”) and Phelps Collins. Along with longtime associate Sir Clyde Stubblefield, the new groove was formed, and dubbed the JB’s. That is, until Bootsy started having horrific acid experiences onstage, and fell out with Brown in the process. When Wesley returned, and regulars like St. Clair Pinckney and John “Jabo” Starks climbed back onboard, the JB’s were officially retooled and managed to stick it out until the mid-70s. Hardest working men in show business, indeed.

In the Jungle Groove runs through all of that via ten pretty amazing tracks that manage to sound like one huge break despite the clamor behind the scenes. “It’s A New Day” leads things off on a particularly upbeat note, even for these guys. Brown makes his case for letting “the girls know what they can do for us” before Jimmy Nolen drops a very funky Stax-esque guitar lick and the horns hit their thing. When the drums come in and the handclaps slap, I do believe the portion of cosmos located right above my house is aligned. We’re one song in, and the fucking cosmos is aligned. “Can I get a witness?” By all means, and then serve up “Funky Drummer”. Of all the songs here, “Funky Drummer” is easily the most heard, even if only for Stubblefield’s still-unholy-after-all-these-years break. What’s not so known is the understated, but cutting solo by Maceo and Brown’s own wildly unhinged organ touches.
by Dominique Leone

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