“Dead On It”: James Brown – Minister of New New Super Heavy Funk
I owned a small record store in Tampa in the ’70s (School Kids Records). I had numerous hip customers who would turn me on to different sounds. One day Tom, a true character in the best sense of the word, ran into the shop and slapped side two of Sex Machine Today (1975, his 40th album) on the turntable. “Check this out,” he said.
What spilled out of the speakers was “Dead On It,” 13:10 of the funkiest music I have ever heard. What really nailed it, however, was the opening two minutes plus where James Brown comments on the scene, noting that many groups claimed to have made it “all by themselves,” although, when prompted, they would acknowledge that it all goes back to James Brown. He famously declares,
“NOW WHEN WE FINISH THIS SESSION, THEY’LL KNOW WHERE THE FUNK COME FROM!”
Overall, this is a very good if not spectacular JB recording, but “Dead On It” alone is worth the price of admission. And “Get Up Off of Me” is incredibly strong. “Sex Machine” is a nice reworking of the original monster hit.
But back one more time to “Dead On It.” The band absolutely kills it, moving from one segment to another as if it were a history lesson. The horns are amazing, but that’s what you expect with Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker and the boys.
And then there is the cover, with “Sex Machine” spelled out in cartoon naked women. It just screams 1975. I am REALLY glad Tom came to the store that day!
And that “James Brown – Minister of New New Super Heavy Funk” thing? Must be true. It says so right on the back cover!
Here’s the full transcript, as best we can get it!
Fellas! Seems like… seems like everybody tryin’ to count us out. I admit we wasn’t as funky as we used to be, but we tryin’ hard. Thinking about Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert, Tchaikovsky, Brahams, but maybe we should have had a little bit more Brown. And maybe this time we’ll let them know where we’re comin’ from, because we’ve got to come back… and teach the newcomers somethin’. Charles, sweet Charles, from Nashville, Johnny Cashville. I can tell you don’t know Charlie Pride; do you know him? Oh, you do know him. Alright. I’m not going to name all these North Carolina boys, Georgia fellas, because I’d have to start with myself. But you know what? We got a lot of veterans out there. Got brother Maceo Sinclair, Jimmy Noland, but I’m not gonna forget Jimmy Parker. Now when we finish with this session, they’ll know where the funk come from. Every time I hear the radio, I hear… I hear JBs, I hear James Brown. Can’t even say Good God. That’s alright; I don’t care. They don’t never give me no [raw] when they get on the different shows, they say, ‘Yeah, I put it all together by myself’ — listenin’ to James Brown. That’s all they got to ask them, but that’s alright. I can take that, ’cause I’m sayin’ it loud. But we’re gonna get on down because reality don’t never lie. I think I’ll back off and kick this one up. Now when I kick it off, it’s seems like we gotta… re-… seems like we gotta continue… show ’em that we… that… that… that… I better not say that… that we’re still hungry. Hit it, Cal!