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View Full Version : why all the credits to J.Brown, none to the bass/guitar players?


griffith9
11-20-2005, 08:28 PM
I have a question.

Did James Brown actually compose/come up with(if not written down) the funk songs he played?

Or the bassists, guitarists wrote the riffs and whatnot and he ONLY sang over it?

other people give more credits to Jimmy Nolen for originating funk sound.
Is that true?

I would like to know if James Brown actually came up with the whole "funk concept."

or... producers, the guitarists pretty much did the core rhythm and everything?
and he ain't did s.h.i.t. compared to them

I've not seen this clarified...

So please clarify this..

Glitterati
11-22-2005, 06:08 PM
It's probably because James Brown is such a captivating showman, and as he runs around the stage shouting, it takes a little away from the guy standing in the corner silently playing the bass.

Caleb3221
11-22-2005, 07:23 PM
James Brown and his early band members did a lot of it. Many of his later musicians did indeed follow his direction very closeley. I'm honestly not sure of how much he actually wrote, but he was a very tight bandleader with very demanding and exacting standards.

But the reason he gets a lot of credit is because he was the band leader. If you want to hear the music that people are talking about, you go to the record store and look under "James Brown", not under the guitarists and bassists names.

SuperBadMonkey
11-26-2005, 06:51 AM
Alot of James Brown stuff sounds the same to me. To be honest i dont see why hes credited as being the godfather of soul, there are people so much better then him. I admit he has got the odd decent song, the rest is just him shouting " hit it! " and various other phrases.

franz sanchez
11-28-2005, 01:21 AM
....then there's a tonne of James Brown stuff you haven't heard - to be honest, if your familiarity with Brown lies with the endless rehashed compilations of Sex Machine, I Feel Good etc ad nauseum, then I can understand your viewpoint.

If you can get hold of the 'Duets' collection, you'll hear just how sweet and adaptable his voice is.

Lady Lex
11-29-2005, 06:47 PM
James Brown is indeed the instigator of Funk. It was his message that carried to many people and set fire to the fervent desire to be proud of one's heritage.

He is/was the artistic director aka the Musical Director. Nothing would ever appear in his music without his sayso. He hand picked the musos and singers and laid down the grooves upon which the tunes were founded. So yes, all credit should go to him. If anyone made a mistake during a performance, they were fined (during the 60s) $5 - a heap of $$ at that time. Id say hes sort of like todays Jamiroquai - but MUCH better :)

Ned
12-02-2005, 11:04 PM
Five dollars was worth more in the sixties than it is now, of course, but it was not then a great amount of money, especially if your bandleader is selling millions of records and paying you accordingly. Five dollars was approximately the list price of a vinyl LP, and vinyl LP's were significantly less expensive in adjusted dollars than CD's. It's true that if you converted a single five-dollar bill into five hundred pennies you would have had then literally "a heap of" money, but it is equally true that if you convert a single five-dollar bill into five hundred pennies you also have now literally "a heap of" money.

James Brown's drummer, Clyde Stubblefield (who has been living and playing in Madison, Wisconsin for quite sometime now), is generally regarded as the inventor of funk drumming. "All credit" should not and does not go to James Brown.

PTheory
12-05-2005, 03:16 AM
Alot of James Brown stuff sounds the same to me. To be honest i dont see why hes credited as being the godfather of soul, there are people so much better then him. I admit he has got the odd decent song, the rest is just him shouting " hit it! " and various other phrases.

Watch the gig from 1970 at Paris Oympia with the original JB's Bootsy and Phelps etc.......you will change your mind forever!!!!

griffith9
12-09-2005, 10:36 PM
Did he ONLY lead and handpick people? or did he COMPOSE the songs?


not to downplay his "leadership" but it's no where as important as the actual compositions.

Did he just pay the producers to do songs for him, pay him, and shout phrases in there, and of course be a great band leader..?

If he couldn't "write" and play those funky riffs himself..(at least most of what he put out on records)


then the world had been fooled by him. giving him too much credits.

Lady Lex
12-10-2005, 06:15 PM
Gawd Ned. Even today, if my bandleader fined ME 5$ Id be pissed as. And 5$ in the 60s was a lot of money.

I dont believe James Brown has 'fooled' anyone. Its very much a similar situation to Jamiroquai. James Brown was well noted for being a dictator - that was his way. Nothing went onto that stage without his sayso. He handpicked the musos. If they picked out a groove and he liked it - it would stay. Or he'd musically add to it or take from it.

In an interview with George Nelson, James said he would often come up with a cellur idea and pass it around to the other musos and see 'what would come up' with everyone else. He said it was like a sketch. He did have very definite musical structures in mind. Hell... just because I cant play drums like a mofo doesnt mean I cant come up with hella rhythms. Jimi Hendrix used a method of composition where he came up with basic cell structures and expanded upon them too - and they were noted as his tunes. While James Brown may not have composed every note, line or chord in his tunes - his 'signature' is definitely there for all to see.

Besides, one person is never the impetus/basis of a genre. It takes society, history, a location to be enjoyed, a whole load of ideas and a whole load of people. IMO Funk was inevitable anyway. :)

Ned
12-11-2005, 12:03 AM
Gawd Ned. Even today, if my bandleader fined ME 5$ Id be pissed as. And 5$ in the 60s was a lot of money.

You're not an American; you probably weren't even alive in the sixties; and for the zillionth time you do not know what the **** you're talking about. From now on, however, I'm fining you five American dollars for every spelling and grammatical error you make.

namesareoverrated
12-12-2005, 06:38 PM
You're not an American; you probably weren't even alive in the sixties; and for the zillionth time you do not know what the **** you're talking about. From now on, however, I'm fining you five American dollars for every spelling and grammatical error you make.

Oh, Ned, you card . . .

Anyway, Mr. Brown has perfect pitch. That, coupled with his understanding of what a tune should sound like, allows him to compose much more than would be expected from someone who doesn't really play any instruments. He frequently sang each part to the band and they had to figure it out by ear.

Furthermore, copyrights really only cover melodies, and sometimes lyrics. Even if James Brown didn't write any of his bass lines, it wouldn't much matter because the melody is the only legally important aspect of the song. If Mr. Brown wished to give up all of his royalties to his band members, he could go ahead and do so, but he doesn't legally have to.

jam9383
12-12-2005, 09:53 PM
Oh, Ned, you card . . .

Anyway, Mr. Brown has perfect pitch. That, coupled with his understanding of what a tune should sound like, allows him to compose much more than would be expected from someone who doesn't really play any instruments. He frequently sang each part to the band and they had to figure it out by ear.

Furthermore, copyrights really only cover melodies, and sometimes lyrics. Even if James Brown didn't write any of his bass lines, it wouldn't much matter because the melody is the only legally important aspect of the song. If Mr. Brown wished to give up all of his royalties to his band members, he could go ahead and do so, but he doesn't legally have to.
123

jam9383
12-12-2005, 09:54 PM
You're not an American; you probably weren't even alive in the sixties; and for the zillionth time you do not know what the **** you're talking about. From now on, however, I'm fining you five American dollars for every spelling and grammatical error you make.
123

Ned
12-13-2005, 11:21 AM
Oh, Ned, you card . . .

Anyway, Mr. Brown has perfect pitch. That, coupled with his understanding of what a tune should sound like, allows him to compose much more than would be expected from someone who doesn't really play any instruments. He frequently sang each part to the band and they had to figure it out by ear.

Furthermore, copyrights really only cover melodies, and sometimes lyrics. Even if James Brown didn't write any of his bass lines, it wouldn't much matter because the melody is the only legally important aspect of the song. If Mr. Brown wished to give up all of his royalties to his band members, he could go ahead and do so, but he doesn't legally have to.

I don't see what legality has to do with anything, and I certainly don't claim to know the extent of "Mr. Brown"'s contribution. I do know that Clyde, not Jimmy, is commonly credited with the invention of funk drumming, and by "credited" I certainly do not mean he receives regular royalty checks. If he did, he probably wouldn't have resorted to benefit concerts to pay his medical bills when he got cancer a few years back (like many musicians, famous and obscure, he had no insurance). I also know that five American dollars in the sixties could not reasonably be characterized as "a heap of money" (unless, as I explained, a bill was exchanged for five hundred pennies and "heap" is meant literally). I can also point out with relative impunity that James Brown was not the originator of nor especially significant in the "black pride" movement of the sixties, despite a gesture here and there.

About perfect pitch: Our music is predicated on relative pitch, not perfect pitch. There is objective rigorously empirical scientific evidence to suggest that everyone is born with pefect pitch but most learn to discard it at some point. (Similarly, the lenses of your eyes turn the world upside down, but you learn in infancy mentally to invert the images you receive.) Here is some anecdotal evidence. however: My sister was tested for perfect pitch in grade school and was discovered to have it. She tells me she doesn't have it any more. She gradually lost the knack because it served no purpose for her.

Amit
12-13-2005, 12:34 PM
About perfect pitch: Our music is predicated on relative pitch, not perfect pitch. There is objective rigorously empirical scientific evidence to suggest that everyone is born with pefect pitch but most learn to discard it at some point. (Similarly, the lenses of your eyes turn the world upside down, but you learn in infancy mentally to invert the images you receive.) Here is some anecdotal evidence. however: My sister was tested for perfect pitch in grade school and was discovered to have it. She tells me she doesn't have it any more. She gradually lost the knack because it served no purpose for her.

That's certainly some interesting stuff that hasn't been covered in my biology or neuroscience classes...Have any links on it?

Chaos
12-15-2005, 01:13 PM
About perfect pitch: Our music is predicated on relative pitch, not perfect pitch. There is objective rigorously empirical scientific evidence to suggest that everyone is born with pefect pitch but most learn to discard it at some point. (Similarly, the lenses of your eyes turn the world upside down, but you learn in infancy mentally to invert the images you receive.) Here is some anecdotal evidence. however: My sister was tested for perfect pitch in grade school and was discovered to have it. She tells me she doesn't have it any more. She gradually lost the knack because it served no purpose for her.

To my knowledge real perfect pitch is almost a curse...Like a fan will make a note but it's a little flat or sharp it sounds wrong and it's annoying.

Ned
12-16-2005, 02:43 AM
That's certainly some interesting stuff that hasn't been covered in my biology or neuroscience classes...Have any links on it?

I have no idea how much of this may be floating about in cyberspace. I think psychology rather than biology or neuroscience is the discipline in question, although obviously there should be a significant overlap,--at least I first learned of the eye lens inversion in Psychology 101. I learned of the hard evidence to support what had already been for some time my soft (non-rigorous, purely anecdotal) theory of perfect pitch fairly recently. The relevant research was done in the Psychology Department of my undergraduate alma mater, in fact.

By the way, I came across James Brown's autobiography, I Feel Good, at Borders the other day and read a fair bit of it. Although, Brown is articulate and clear (and provocatively iconoclastic) about a wide range of non-musical matters, he seems to me profoundly inarticulate about music theory. He calls his funk breakthrough revelation "the ONE", by which he appears to mean an emphasis on beats one and three, rather than two and four, of a four-beat group. That doesn't strike me as particularly revolutionary. He compounds the confusion by using the term upbeat to mean what most musicians mean by downbeat and vice-versa. I don't doubt that at some level in some way he understands music much better than that, but he is not managing to communicate his understanding. To the extent the fault is mine it seems to me it can only be a failure of my telepathic or other psychic powers. There's a similarly mystifying numerological passage in the middle of Bob Dylan's Chronicles.

namesareoverrated
01-05-2006, 02:18 AM
Ned, I was agreeing with you.

Anyway, yes, Brown probably knows very little about theoretical music. Nor is he the inventor of any music style, he is just the greatest proponent of some of them. My point regarding his having perfect pitch relates specifically to how he makes music: if you ask him to sing a G, he'll sing you a G with accurate tuning. This allows him in some circumstances to "write" music without knowing anything about theory simply because he is able to concieve of and sing a musical phrase that he audiates in his head. This is certainly not an unusual talent, but most non-musicians (and I would consider him a non-musician) can't do it.

It also allows him to introduce songs and segue between songs that are in different keys without the aid of a given pitch, which is a small part of why he was so explosive in his live heyday.

Caleb3221
01-05-2006, 05:14 AM
I personally wouldn't consider J Brown a non musician. In his early life, he grew up playing insturments and singing behind others. Might not have a traditional knowledge of theory, but definatley not a non musician.

Now, the One is actually fairly important in funk music. I'm not sure if his idea of it was really revolutionary, but he did really influence many funk guys with his description and application of it. You always hear George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, and many of the other funk guys from that era talk about the One, both in songs and in interviews discussing views. Even in a recent discussion I had with a great funk bassist(Somewhat younger), he gave me some advice that I later realized was just explaining a bit about how to play off the One, but I started grooving real hard the instant I tried it(Before I made the connection).