November 2 - November 8, 1995

Quick Scans


James Brown

James Brown's Funky Christmas
Polydor Records
3 Stars
CHRISTMAS THEME RECORDS are notoriously pompous, boring and rarely musically interesting. Add soul-king James Brown to the mixture, however, and all the fun, excitement and hope of Christmas morning comes rushing back. This compilation collects a variety of JB Christmas tracks from 1966-1970, and all burst with his trademark heart-felt emotion and eccentric personality. "Soulful Christmas," "Christmas Is Love" and "Hey America" all jump with a smooth '60s soul beat, while JB also takes a more serene stab at the eternal "Christmas Song," (known as "Chestnuts Roasting..." to most people.) Only the Grinch wouldn't like a record that includes the plea "Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto," ending with the line, "and tell them James Brown sent ya!"
--Timothy Gassen


BBC Live
3 Stars
HAVING EXPERIENCED THIS Glaswegian rock band firsthand in the early '70s I can affirm that the motley outfit had quite the visual impact. SAHB was comprised of several hirsute glam metalheads, a harlequin guitarist in hideous whiteface, and Treasure Island pirate wannabe Harvey himself as consummate mic-preener. The musical side is ably represented here with equally over-the-top takes of Lieber & Stoller's "Framed" (a sleazy, honky-tonk boogie) and Sly Stone's "Dance To The Music" (okay, the cheesy keyboards sound dated, but the tune's sung in a Scottish accent). Originals like the pulsing anthem "Faith Healer" and the gutterblues "Gang Bang" present a band skilled at marrying vital hard rock to outrageous imagery--low budget theatrics at their best.
--Fred Mills


I Just Wasn't Made For These Times
4 Stars
THIS SET OF mostly sad-yet-uplifting songs were taken from sessions for the recent Don Was-directed documentary on this troubled genius. Mr. Wilson is a brilliant song craftsman whose music comes straight from his heart, and although no new material is presented, these remakes of various highlights and obscurities from his long career are a joy to hear. It's nice to hear the two songs from the 1989 solo album without the ponderous keyboard/drum machine arrangements, and it's especially great to hear Brian do a couple tracks originally sung by the evil Mike Love. Truly, this disc is a rare thing of great beauty. Buy it, your mom will be proud of you.
--Al Perry

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November 2 - November 8, 1995

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