Aug 9, 2014

RhoDeo 1431 Grooves


These weeks it's all about "Soul Brother Number One," "the Godfather of Soul," "the Hardest Working Man in Show Business," "Mr. Dynamite" -- those are mighty titles, but no one can question that today's artist earned them more than any other performer. James was a guy who had self motivation written all over his back and front. And it came out of every pore of his music. The J.B.'s were the legendary supporting cast of musicians behind James Brown, earning a well-deserved reputation as the tightest, best-drilled instrumental ensemble in all of funk. The name J.B.'s is most often associated with three hornmen in particular -- saxophonists Maceo Parker, Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis, and trombonist Fred Wesley, all of whom originally joined Brown's backing band at various points during the '60s. But there's more the female singers and his lifelong friend Bobby Byrd they too managed to record often with direct support of Brown and his band  ......N'joy

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Although she's not a household name, Marva Whitney is fondly remembered by funk devotees as one of the rawest, brassiest, most powerful divas the music ever produced. Along with fellow funk belters Lyn Collins and Vicki Anderson, Whitney made her name singing with the James Brown Revue for a few years, and her limited, much-sampled recordings for Brown-associated labels now fetch astronomical sums on the collector's market. Born in Kansas City, Kansas, Whitney began performing at the age of three with her family's touring gospel group, the Manning Gospel Singers. She studied music in college and caught on as lead singer of the R&B group Tommy Gadson & the Derbys. In 1967, she signed on with the James Brown Revue as a featured female vocalist, meaning that she would perform her own small set every night while Brown took a break. Whitney accompanied Brown on his late-'60s tour of Vietnam, and made other international appearances with him as well. In 1969, Whitney made her first solo recordings for King, Brown's label at the time. She scored a Top 20 hit on the R&B charts with "It's My Thing (You Can't Tell Me Who to Sock It To)," a rewrite of the Isley Brothers hit; the follow-up, "Things Got to Get Better (Get Together)," just missed the R&B Top 20. Far too gutsy and funky to cross over to the pop charts, Whitney remained with the Revue until 1970, without scoring any more significant hits on her own. Still, cuts like "Unwind Yourself" (now very recognizable through several hip-hop samples) and the duet "You Got to Have a Job (If You Don't Work)" helped cement her reputation among record collectors. Her only studio LP, It's My Thing, was released in 1969 and has been heavily bootlegged and sampled by numerous DJs; her Live and Lowdown at the Apollo LP also commands hefty price tags. Whitney went on to record for the Isley Brothers' T-Neck label, as well as Nashboro, but her prime material is from the James Brown years. Seven of those tracks were compiled on the Polydor collection James Brown's Original Funky Divas. Whitney passed away in December 2012 from complications of pneumonia.


Like any disc produced by James Brown and featuring the mighty JB's as a backing group, It's My Thing is a stone-cold funky record. Marva Whitney sang in the James Brown Revue from 1967 to 1969, and in 1969 she released this record. Not only did Brown produce but he wrote or co-wrote most of the tracks and it basically sounds like a James Brown record with a female singer. A tough, aggressive female singer. Marva sounds like she could take any comers and leave them shaking in their go-go boots. From the opening blast of "It's My Thing, Pt. 1 and "Pt. 2," a rewrite of the Isley Brothers' "It's Your Thing, she shouts, exhorts, wails, and basically lets it all hang out as the band lays down groove after groove. Thankfully after four exhausting tracks, Marva slows it down with "If You Love Me," an Otis Redding-style broken-hearted ballad. After an instrumental break she jumps right back into the funky fray with "Unwind Yourself," which features a classic horn line and some gritty vocalizing from Marva. The rest of the record follows this pattern of a couple of stompers and a ballad. The highlight of the record is "I'm Tired I'm Tired I'm Tired (Things Better Change Before It's Too Late)," a funky (yes, every track on this disc is funky) lament that details just how tired Marva is of society putting her down. Check out Brown going wild in the background about halfway through the song. By all means seek this one out. [Some reissues add five bonus tracks, including the slow-burning "I Made a Mistake Because It's Only You, Pts. 1 & 2" and a duet with James Brown on "Sunny."]

Marva Whitney - It's My Thing  (flac 313mb)

01 It's My Thing (Part 1) 2:55
02 It's My Thing (Part 2) 1:51
03 Things Got To Get Better (Get Together) 3:02
04 What Kind Of Man 2:11
05 If You Love Me 2:53
06 In The Middle (Instrumental) 2:47
07 Unwind Yourself 2:50
08 You Got To Have A Job (If You Don't Work, You Can't Eat) 4:12
09 I'll Work It Out 2:57
10 Get Out Of My Life 2:58
11 I'm Tired, I'm Tired, I'm Tired (Things Better Change Before It's Too Late) 2:30
12 Shades Of Brown (Instrumental) 3:07
13 I Made A Mistake Because It's Only You (Part 1) 3:02
14 I Made A Mistake Because It's Only You (Part 2) 2:59
15 What Do I Have To Do To Prove My Love To You 2:27
16 He's The One 2:33
17 This Girl's In Love With You 2:58
18  Sunny with James Brown 3:18

Marva Whitney - It's My Thing    (ogg 128mb)

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Nicknamed the "Female Preacher," Lyn Collins was discovered in the early '70s along with her relatives Bootsy and Catfish Collins by James Brown, who was making the transition to the hardest funk phase of his career. Lyn Collins was born June 12, 1948, in Abilene, TX, where she grew up; she began singing in her teens, waxing a tune called "Unlucky in Love" at age 14, and married a man who served both as her manager and as the local promoter for the James Brown Revue. Collins sent Brown a demo tape and he responded by essentially putting her on standby in 1970, when Marva Whitney left the Revue. Former vocalist Vicki Anderson elected to rejoin, however, so Brown instead invited Collins to come to Georgia for a recording session in early 1971, which produced the single "Wheel of Life." By the end of that year, Anderson was ready to leave again, and Collins officially joined the James Brown Revue. In 1972, Brown's People Records label released Collins' self-penned single "Think (About It)"; produced by Brown, it became her first and biggest hit, made her the most commercially successful female singer in Brown's camp, and was later sampled for the main vocal hook in the party rap classic "It Takes Two" by Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock. Collins' first full-length album, also titled Think (About It), was released later in the year. Collins continued to record singles for Brown through 1973, also fulfilling her heavy touring commitments as a member of the Revue. Collins' second album, Check It Out if You Don't Know Me by Now, was released in 1975. She eventually became a backup session vocalist, also appearing on the soundtracks of the film Dr. Detroit and the TV series Fame. Around the late '80s/early '90s, Collins attempted a comeback as a dance-club diva, recording the house single "Shout" for Belgium's ARS label, and a self-penned track called "Break Your Heart" for an Italian label. In 1993, Collins' profile was given a boost by female dancehall reggae singer Patra, who invited Collins to perform on her hit remake of "Think (About It)"; partly due to the resulting interest, her two official albums were reissued in England and Holland. In addition, Collins' work has appeared on Polydor compilations like James Brown's Funky People and James Brown's Original Funky Divas, as well as the bootleg singles comp Female Preacher; she continued to tour and perform, most notably at the European Jazz/Funk Festival (in both 1998 and 1999) and the Montreux Jazz Festival. Shortly after returning from a European tour in February of 2005, Lyn Collins passed away on March 13 at the age of 56.


At the time of the release of Think (About It) in 1972, Lyn Collins had been a member of James Brown's performing revue for about two years. Her full-throated voice had earned her the nickname "the Female Preacher" and a shot to record her own album. Of course, the Godfather was in the producer's chair, writing four of the nine tracks, directing the J.B.'s as they laid down their usual funky grooves, and liberally adding vocals throughout. The title track is the main point of interest here; from Collins' throat-ripping vocals to the track's nasty groove to Brown's background interjections, this is a killer. (Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock later sampled the track for their rap classic "It Takes Two"). The rest of the record is a little uneven: "Just Won't Do Right" is a good doo wop-ish ballad with some churchy organ and great vocals by Collins and Brown, "Wheels of Life" is a nice little groover that sounds like vintage Aretha Franklin, and "Women's Lib" is a very slow ballad that lets Collins show off her anguished yowl of a vocal to its fullest. Where the album stumbles is on the covers of familiar songs. Her versions of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" and the Gamble & Huff classic "Never Gonna Give You Up" are mediocre, and worst of all is her leaden take on "Fly Me to the Moon." Still, the record is worth tracking down for hardcore James Brown or funky soul fans. The less devoted should look for "Think (About It)" on one of the many compilations on which it appears.

Lyn Collins - Think (about it)  (flac 190mb)

01 Think (About It) 3:25
02 Just Won't Do Right 3:03
03 Wheels Of Life 3:05
04 Ain't No Sunshine 2:50
05 Things Got To Get Better 3:26
06 Never Gonna Give You Up 3:05
07 Reach Out For Me 3:40
08 Women's Lib 5:20
09 Fly Me To The Moon 2:41

Lyn Collins - Think (about it)   (ogg 69mb)

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As a long-running right-hand man, Bobby Byrd performed an invaluable function in the James Brown show, warming up the crowds as a solo singer, then retreating to the sidelines as a member of the Famous Flames, Brown's backup vocal group. Indeed, without Byrd, James Brown may have never made it out of Georgia: in the early '50s, Byrd and his family sponsored Brown's parole from prison, and Byrd gave Brown a spot in his vocal group, the Flames (which, of course, Brown eventually took over and relegated to the background). Like many of Brown's close associates and support musicians, Byrd got a chance to record his own work under Brown's direction, releasing numerous Brown-produced singles between the early '60s and early '70s. Some of these were even modest R&B hits -- "We're in Love" (1965) and "I Need Help (I Can't Do It Alone)" (1970) were the biggest, making the R&B Top 20. Brown's backing musicians (and sometimes Brown himself) often figured heavily in the arrangements, and unsurprisingly the tracks often sounded like James Brown records featuring a different vocalist. The unfortunate problem was that Byrd was an average, even nondescript soul singer, sounding much more like a poor person's Sam & Dave than a facsimile of Soul Brother Number One. The records were often fine, the early-'70s hard funk singles in particular (which usually featured the J.B.'s cook), but you can't help wondering if they might sound a lot better with J.B. himself on the front line. Still, fans of the James Brown groove will find a lot to like in Byrd's best recordings, in much the same way as they'll enjoy the James Brown's Funky People series of recordings that J.B. oversaw (but did not sing lead on). Certainly Eric B. & Rakim thought so, reworking one of Byrd's best singles (1971's "I Know You Got Soul") so faithfully that legal action ensued. After splitting from Brown in 1973, Byrd recorded sporadically and performed often (particularly in Europe), releasing On the Move in 1994. He died of cancer in September 2007, but not before performing at the memorial service for Brown, held just a few months earlier.


Often called "the Godfather's Godfather," Bobby Byrd found the young James Brown a home and a job so he could get out of doing time in a juvenile detention center, then served as his bandleader and arranger until 1970. Not only that, but Byrd wrote more than 40 of Brown's biggest hits, including "Sex Machine," "Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothing," and "I Know You Got Soul." Unfortunately, Byrd never received proper credit for much of his work, which is why he remains a relative unknown to this day. Fortunately, a small label in Europe (where Byrd has a much bigger following) rescued him from obscurity for this comeback solo LP, his first since the early '70s. With a little help from his family -- wife Vicki Anderson and daughter Carleen Anderson of Young Disciples fame on backup vocals, sons Tony Byrd and Barlett Anderson on drums and organ, and godson Jerry Preston on bass -- and his friends (the Tower of Power horns and the Godfather himself, who co-wrote two songs here), Byrd sounds just as funky as ever, stirring up a steaming pot of sweat-soaked funk. On cuts like "Try It Again," "Sayin' It & Doin' It Is Two Different Things," and "I Got It (It's Been a Long Time Coming)," Byrd and company deliver the groovin' goods in a way James Brown has largely failed to do since his '70s heyday, leaving little doubt that Byrd was the man behind much of the Godfather's magic.

Bobby Byrd - On The Move  (flac 316mb)

01 Try It Again 5:18
02 I'm On The Move 4:55
03 The Way To Get Down 4:49
04 Sayin' It And Doin' It Is Two Different Things 4:37
05 Never Get Enough (featuring Jacko Peake) 4:35
06 I Got It (It's Been A Long Time Coming) 4:37
07 Sunshine 8:45
08 Back From The Dead 3:51
09 Never Get Enough 4:36

Bobby Byrd - On The Move  (ogg 116mb)

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1 comment:

santino said...

Thank you very much for Bobby Byrd