Monday, October 22, 2007

It's The Real Thing!

James Brown - Peewee's Groove In D

James Brown's fifteen-year tenure with King Records, in which time JB went from being the scorched-earth balladeer of "Please Please Please" to the development of funk, nearly came to an early end in 1964, when JB breached his contract with the Cincinnati label to sign to Mercury's Smash imprint after one of his regular conflicts with prexy Sid Nathan. When Nathan asserted his contract rights to force Smash to withdraw "Out of Sight," Mercury must've countered with something pretty sweet, or threatened King Records in some way, because a deal was brokered to allow Brown to record for both labels, with the caveat being that Brown could only record instrumentals (his productions on Bobby Byrd, Anna King and other James Brown Revue acts excepted) for Smash. JB rolled out several LPs for Smash over the next three years or so, including 1967's James Brown Plays The Real Thing, from which today's compilation comes, before he returned to King before switching to Polydor in 1971.

Although most of Real Thing is comprised of covers of various tunes of the day (the lead-off track is a jazzy cover of "Jimmy Mack"), the original "Peewee's Groove In D" finds JB and the band doing a slinky funk number. After the "Mr. Pitiful"-inspired opening, JB does his usual organ noodling over a groove that Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis cooked up for him. It's a nice jam that is a good way to kick off this week.

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