James BrownJames Brown's Funky Christmas
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!"
SENSATIONAL ALEX HARVEY BANDBBC Live
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.
BRIAN WILSONI Just Wasn't Made For These Times
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.
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