Untitled Compositions

"...compository sketches..." - S. Scott Franklin

James Brown - Cold Sweat (Album Review)

There needn’t be any intricate introduction or prolonged formalities for this one. If you don’t already know, James Brown is one of the funkiest men to ever walk this Earth. His heart beat to a syncopated rhythm as he glided across the stage with all of the regality deserving of his title as the “King of Soul.” When we talk about James Brown, we often connect with his incomparable stage presence. His music reflected the boisterous nature of his personality. It was vivacious and completely outlandish even during its most tempered moments. No other artist in history could make the wearisome act of fatigue look so stylish. Adorned in his signature cape, placed over him by the legendary MC Danny Ray, Brown could walk of stage with an unparalleled cool. This is the James Brown we most often discuss.

But in doing so, we overlook parts of a man whose influence and abilities far outreached our own understanding of him as an artist. As we take a look back, we should never forget James Brown, the risk taker. This was highlighted most on his rare 1967 release Cold Sweat, an album greatly overlooked amongst his many great works, despite its rich connection to various other sounds.

As a whole, the project wanders across genres. This musical rollercoaster ride begins with the funk-infused two part jam “Cold Sweat.” It is great music, without a doubt, but it’s musical impact was much greater as, in many ways, it was the bridge connecting the past to the future of American music. On the song’s composition, Brown’s bandleader, Alfred “Pee Wee” Ellis said, “After one of the shows, one night somewhere, James called me into the dressing room and grunted a bass line of a rhythmic thing (demonstrates), which turned out to be “Cold Sweat.” I was very much influenced by Miles Davis and had been listening to “So What” six or seven years earlier and that crept into the making of “Cold Sweat.” You could call it subliminal, but the horn line is based on Miles Davis’ ‘So What.’”..”

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For The Revivalist