Thursday, December 18, 2014

James Brown - Santa's Got a Brand New Bag

Who doesn't love James Brown, especially in his late 60's/early 70's hey-day? Here he gives Christmas some real funk - and does a great job with it! These aren't mere novelties - these are well-written originals that just happen to have a seasonal bent.

"Santa Claus Go Straight To the Ghetto" is one of his best here - a cool groove, horn'n'guitar propelled, and nice sentiments - great stuff! There's a slow, soul groove in "Santa Claus, Santa Claus", as only JB can do and a string-laden ballad in "Christmas in Heaven". An even quieter ballad is "It's Christmas Time" before we get back to the power-funk with "Go Power at Christmas" and then another string-laden message song with "Let's Make Christmas Mean Something This Year". There's a very JB version of "The Christmas Song" and very energetic funk in "Soulful Christmas" as well as a sweet "Please Come Home For Christmas" (with a terrific, screamin' additional bridge). The always classic "Merry Christmas Baby" is slow and sultry with some cool guitar licks while "Merry Christmas, I Love You" is classic James soulful funk. Another ballad, "Let's Unite the Whole World At Christmas" and more dance-funk in "Tit For Tat (Ain't No Taking Back)" before Brown tells the story of baby Jesus in "Sweet Little Baby Boy". More strings for "Santa Claus is Definitely Here to Stay" - kind of a "When a Man Loves a Woman" feel - before ending everything up with high-energy funk in "Hey Amnerica".

An abundance of ballads here, but all quality tunes making an essential Xmas album!