Prior to the mid-60s, "funk" meant, musically, the styles of a Horace Silver or Jimmy Smith. James Brown changed that. James put the Western world on the one, and, by having tapped into this something, morphed from merely-great Soul Man into an insanely great black cultural icon - he was Amiri Baraka's Berthold Brecht of Black Power, though James the nouveau riche redneck probably bristled at the politics of The Black Panthers, et al.

"Papa's Got a Brand New Bag", from 1965, might be the start of James Brown switching from straight soul music to something completely new. It was more on the one than "Out of Sight", and had that sixteenth-note guitar riff intro. A couple of years later, there was "Cold Sweat" and "There Was a Time", the latter carrying a insistant sixteenth-note pulse. Later, "Say it Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)", "Give it Up or Turn it Loose"...

"The Popcorn" was a funky dance craze, of sorts; James made sequels - "Mother Popcorn", "Lowdown Popcorn"... This stuff was probably in the repertoire The JB's learned on short notice, on tour. In the studio, they took the funk further: "Sex Machine", "Soul Power", "Super Bad", "Hot Pants"... Jazzers got it, whether for artistic reasons (Miles Davis - motto: "great artists steal" - built his version of acid rock on abstracted JB) or just to make a buck (Donald Byrd, Herbie Hancock, and many more).

But while James once had the niche of New Funkiness all to himself, by the middle of the 70s the funk was ubiquitous, and by the end of the decade, disco made funk irrelevant, it seemed. There would never again be a James Brown band to rival those old JB's assemblages. James ceded the reins of power to outside producers and musicians, starting around the time of "Too Funky in Here".

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