Mon. Oct. 25, 2021

James Brown – It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World

Classics: James Brown & The Furious Flames – It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World (King Records)

James Brown was raised in poverty in Augusta, GA. Eventually spending 4 years in jail for robbery. This before joining Bobby Byrd-led vocal quartet the Gospel Starlighters in 1953 who were soon after to become The Flames.

Two years after, the latter released the memorable ‘Please Please Please’. Meanwhile Brown would score his first #1 hit. This with ‘Try Me’ which become the best selling R&B single of 1958.

On the footsteps of ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag’, Brown recorded ‘It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World’ by the beginning of 1966. A song he co-wrote Betty Jean Newsome which would be heavily criticized for its machist and chauvinist content. But this didn’t get the Godfather of Soul from including it in all of his live performances. Such as his memorable ones at Paris L’Olympia on Nov. 25, 1967 or on Mar. 08, 1971…

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A native of Barnwell, SC, James Brown saw the light in a poor environment. Born to a mom who was 16 and a dad who was 6 years older. Then finally raised by one of his aunts after the separation of his parents. Brown also happened to spend some time in a remained home. Eventually makin’ an income from shining shoes at the time. He then formed a Gospel group – The 3 Swanees – along with Bobby Byrd and Johnny Terry in the early 50’s. Relocating to Macon, GA, Little Richard‘s hometown, they hooked up with his former manager, Clint Brantley. And by 1956, they recorded a demo of ‘Please Please Me’. Eventually impressing Ralph Bass who got them signing a record deal with Cincinnati-based label King Records.

Strangely enough, the 10 following records they did for the label didn’t make it, which got them next to be dropped. But the release of ‘Try Me’ changed the fortunes back in 1958. And by 1960, James Brown‘s band – The Flames – had expanded to a 20-piece combo. With the man’s stage presence standing as the most energetic anyone had seen. Then his 1962 live shows recorded at the Apollo Theatre in NYC establishing across the country. Meanwhile paving his way with gems such as ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag’, ‘I Got You (I Feel Good)’ and ‘It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World’. Then eventually getting him to be voted America’s #1 R&B singer the year after…

Brown was constantly reiventing himself. With props due to his musicians, beginning with Pee Wee Ellis who managed to be able to turn his countless ideas into music. This being how Brown and Co. happened to release the first ever Funk tune by the likes of ‘Cold Sweat’ back in 1967. He then recorded ‘Say It Loud, I’m Black And I’m Proud’ as a response to the American street riots in 1968. Eventually finding himself in the position of a (political) Black leader after the tragic assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr..

By 1970, James Brown came up with the influential ‘Funky Drummer’. A track which happened to be the most sampled beat in Hip-Hop. Meanwhile an unequalled amount of staples got him to stand at the top. From ‘Sex Machine’ to ‘Get On The Good Foot’ and ‘Funky President’. But also ‘Get Up Offa That Thing’ and ‘It’s Too Funky In Here’.

Brown most likely evolved with his time. The 80’s seeing him eventually joinin’ forces with Hip-Hop icon Afrika Bambaataa on ‘Unity’. But also scoring one of his biggest successes ever with ‘Living In America’, from the ‘Rocky IV’ OST. His final Pop Top 10 hit with production work courtesy of the late Dan Hartman. He also happened to flirt with New Jack Swing vibes on the Full Force produced album ‘I’m Real’ back in 1988. Then with Brit-Soul with Soul II Soul‘s Jazzie B producing his ‘Universal James’ album, featuring the sadly underrated ‘Show Me Your Friends’ in 1992.

James Brown pretty much remained active until his death in 2006 even though he progressively lost the aura along with time.
He sadly died on Dec. 25, 2006, in Atlanta’s Emory Crawford Long Memorial Hospital from congestive heart failure, resulting from complications of pneumonia. He was 73.

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