James Brown: Super Bad News

There are plenty of straight-up James Brown memorials today (here’s John Pareles’ obit in the Times) so I thought I’d offer up two "tributes" of sorts from 1989, a year after the Godfather of Soul’s infamous drug-n-booze fueled run-in with the law that ended in a wild interstate car chase. Both songs poke fun at the incident which had pretty much worn away any goodwill Brown had left. (The ’80s were a rough decade for the him.)

Of the two, I think Pop Will Eat Itself‘s contribution holds up a little better, though I am biased as I hold the album it came from, This is the Day… This Is the Hour… This is This, as an unheralded (and unfairly maligned) classic. Plus they sample "Funky Drummer" as well as some classic JB catchphrases. For whatever reason, Big Audio Dynamite sampled West Side Story for their song "James Brown," the lead single off Megatop Phoenix, the last Big Audio Dynamite
album to feature the original lineup. (The band was never as good once
Don Letts left, even though they became much more popular.) I think
this got picked as a single more for the name recognition that the
catchiness of the song, but it’s still fun, if a bit dated.

Pop Will Eat Itself – "Not Now James, We’re Busy"

Big Audio Dynamite – "James Brown"

One Comment

  1. I was very fortunate to see James Brown twice!
    This past summer at Stubb's, he wasn't that good, but hey, it's still The Godfather of Soul! His merch was just phenomenal. Weird silkscreens on trucker hats, shirts and towels(!) They all said "James Brown" (on top) His visage in the middle and "SSSSuperBad" (on the bottom). They were so amateurish that they were just fucking awesome.
    A few years ago, I saw James Brown at the Star of Texas Rodeo which is always the same weeks as SXSW. He was just amazing. A rotating stage in the center of all the dirt chock-full with 19 musicians and 2 dancers! He performed "God Bless America" for the troops with his dancers holding the flag and all the cowboys stood up, waving their hats and cheering.
    RIP James Brown

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