25 December 2006

Monday's mp3: James Brown's Global Reach

The one thing that can solve most of our problems is dancing.
--James Brown

Tributes to the Godfather of Soul will be multiplying like bunnies in coming days. We'll leave that work to others, and contribute by recognizing his impact on global culture.

James Brown's music had an influence far beyond his native USA. Artists ranging from Nigeria's Fela Kuti, to Italy's Enzo Avitabile. In particular, he's heard in the sound of Ethiopian Soul (check the Ethiopiques series) and Nigerian Afrobeat (try anything from Fela to Antibalas).

Whether you view Brown as deep ("It doesn't matter how you travel it, it's the same road. It doesn't get any easier when you get bigger, it gets harder. And it will kill you if you let it.") or vain ("Hair is the first thing."), there's no denying the influence of his work on the music of the time and styles that followed, including funk, Afrobeat, soul, jazz, pop....

So give it up as we turn him loose. Here are just two of the globally-minded artists digging into the Brown sound.

[mp3] Natacha Atlas: "(It's A Man's Man's) Man's World-Natacha Atlas"
from the album The Best of Natacha Atlas

[mp3] Daktaris: "Give It Up Or Turn It Loose"
from the album Soul Explosion

Listen to these tracks, and imagine -- as I am -- James Brown sitting around catching up on the latest with Bob Marley and Elvis and Fela and other greats, without whom our musical world would be so much poorer.

For much more on James Brown, check out godfatherjamesbrown.com

Merry Christmas!

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