Godfather…the phrase used to describe an individual who is influential and pioneering in a movement or organisation. An individual whose presence alone is enough to send waves rattling through whatever outfit they so chose to desire. When it comes to Soul music, there is none more electric and omnipotent than the man himself, James Brown. The reason Brown is seen in such light is thanks to the way that the revolutionary icon took soul music and made it explode into something completely different and historical. Brown’s unquestionable and ever-energetic approach to soul saw him redefine a genre renowned for love and pain into a genre renowned for sex, drugs and living life on the edge; James Brown is the creator of Funk music. The fact that the genre was his lovechild meant that he could go on to mold and channel it in whatever manner he so chose. The Godfather of Soul very quickly became the father of funk and he went on to spearhead the genre into the bold and artistic nature that it so frequently became associated with. Brown was born in California back in 1933 in a time of hardship, racism and hate and went on to prosper into one of the greatest of all time.
Sex, love, hate, pain and triumph all played a part in the godfather’s funk. His sound was raw, loud, exciting and iconic. The 1973 album ‘The Payback’ is arguably the most iconic of all. As well as being considered a landmark funk album, ‘The Payback’ was intended to be the soundtrack for the Blaxploitation classic film ‘Hell Up In Harlem’ until the producers stated how it sounded too much like the typical ‘James Brown Stuff’ and decided to scrap it. Little did know that this album would go on to become one of the best selling Funk albums of all time, go to number one in the soul charts and sell to a certified gold status. Brown was making the haters eat their words, and rightly so. Although the album contains such classics as ‘Stone to the Bone’ and ‘The Payback’ itself, this week’s track of the week has to be ‘Take Some…Leave Some’. This socially conscious, funk riddled number talks about rising to the top, taking things for granted and living life to the fullest. Brown, famously coming from nothing, like most funk and soul artists, came from poverty and went on to enjoy the lavish riches they had earned. ‘Take Some Leave Some’ highlights exactly the indulgence that comes with the rise. The song itself can even be seen as the representation of that journey. From the way that the band introduce the track, walking the listening through rivets of bass and licks of the guitar. In typical fashion, the godfather explodes on the track out of no-where, as if to act as a metaphor for the quick-fire nature of the music industry.
Sadly the Godfather left us on Christmas day back in 2006 due to heart failure. His legend however, is something that still lives on, and something that has inspired thousands around the world today. For yet another fresh and powerful insight into the Godfather of Soul, the minister of new super heavy funk, just listen to ‘Take Some…Leave Some’…
Listen & enjoy here –