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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Godfather of Soul

JamesBrown: I think of his name almost as one word.

When I was growing up, our family always got JET magazine. On the last pages were the black (or R&B) music charts. More often than not, there was a song or two or three from James Brown on the singles charts and and an LP on the album charts. Peculiarly, many of these songs I had never heard of, let alone heard, because there was no black radio stations that I can recall in my hometown. This was particularly true when I was younger, before he had most of his big crossover hits.

So, if you look at some of those Billboard books of the top pop artists, James Brown will appear in the top ten, even though he had a relative dearth of pop hits, compared with his total output. However, he had a MASSIVE total output.

James Brown came to Albany in the mid-1980s, and I didn't go, and this during a period when I was attending concerts. It was largely that his shows - like Bob Dylan at the time, now that I think of it - were considered very inmconsistent. One show, he earned his nickname of "The Heardest Working Man in Show Business", while the next show, he seemed to be mailing it in. For the life of me, I can't remember what category JB's show that year fell into.

What with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in the initial grouping and Kennedy Center Honors, among other awards, he was feted vigorously. But I think the greatest complement is to be so well recognized that you'll be well parodied:

Speaking of the Kenedy Center Honors, no Jessica Simpson -alas. But Alison Krauss - my wife's other favorite singer - on two songs!

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