Friday, March 19, 2010

fight the power

public enemy (top): paint on audio cassettes by sam
i havia.

There it Is", the second contracted LP release for Polydor, on the back of a distribution package encompassing Brown's King Records and People imprint, is something of an improvement on "Hot Pants"; notable only for the title track reworking of his supercharged 1971 smash hit.

A prequel, of sorts, to the soundtrack proper, "Black Caesar", and the Larry Cohen rejected "The Payback" which would emerge the following year, "There it Is" nonetheless delivers on its premise; from full on horn to the bleak Bobbit, Matthews, Brown and Rosen composition, "King Heroin", a wholly leprous condemnation conscientiously stripped of all concession.

Where Curtis Mayfield's "Pusherman" inspires a positive rhythmic response at odds with its core message, "King Heroin" is unstinting in its clarity.

That same theme is reprised on "Public Enemy No. 1" - parts one and two - but ultimately fails to engage on a similar level. Dropping all pretense at restraint, Brown strives to to find the right note twice and can't quite reach it. By part two, the song is mercifully engineered to a fade before it descends into pantomime.

The foot is stamping, the brow might be awash with sweat, but the performance rests on the wrong foot.

Still. Giving up and turning his cheek was never seriously part of James Brown's reportoire. Or Flavor Flav's.

Arranged and produced by Dave Matthews and James Brown.

JAMES BROWN: KING HEROIN from "There It Is" 2 x LP (Polydor) 1972 (US)
JAMES BROWN: PUBLIC ENEMY No. 1 (PT 1) from "There It Is" 2 x LP (Polydor) 1972 (US)
JAMES BROWN: NEVER CAN SAY GOODBYE from "There It Is" 2 x LP (Polydor) 1972 (US)


Ramone666 said...

Damn... was planning to do something with King Heroin tomorrow, but you beat me to it. Fun song. "So be you Italian, Jewish, Black or Mex, I can make the most virile of men forget their sex..." Now that´s a rhyme.

Anto said...

th title track was the first song after the slow dancing at my wedding. this was my attempt to garner some verve to thr troops who were hitting the whiskey at the bar. it fuggin worked. the chunck offa the bass is a phenonomememe on. so now

ib said...

Heh, Ramone666; it's always kind of weird when two bloggers opt for the same cut at much the same time...

"King Heroin" is one of my favourite JB songs. Very out of character with its its low key delivery.

You're right about the lyrics. Right on the money. I wonder if Manny Rosen was responsible for the lyric or the melody ? I'm opting for the former.

Some databases, I gather, credit Rosen as sole writer on this one, although the 45 label lists Matthews, Brown and Rosen as joint composers; with Chris Bobbit getting an additional credit on the LP.

There seems to be very little additional information on Rosen out there. Without exception, he seems inextricably associated with this one song.

ib said...

Anto. The title song is killer. The bass, as you say, is some kind of hard drive.

I was tempted to include it here too until I was forced to confront the fact that I was perilously close to posting the entire album.

Great choice for your wedding reception, by the way.

RossK said...

ib et al....

Great stuff - both posts and discussions.

I'm really getting an education.


ib said...

Thanks for that, Ross K.

In a fine tradition stretching back to Art Decade, Dope City Free Press and Poetry is for Assholes, the exchanges in the commentary sections vie with posts proper for full on engagement.

Unknown said...

I am sure you would enjoy the all out rendition of King Heroin by James White and his fab Contortions. Standing in smack up to his knees he could really deliver the lyric, one-upping his Brown brother.

ib said...

Magnus. Never let it be said, brother.

James White has featured on this very site previously. Febrile and contorted; liver lipped in countenance if not in the depths of soul. But - hear me, lord - never once, I do not beieve, ever one-upping on his elder.

ib said...

Reading back my response to the Contortions coment, it occurs to me I missed your point entirely, Magnus.

Apologies. I was not even aware of the existence of the "King Heroin" cover. I see it's on 'The Chance/White Box Set" on Ze... from a 1980 performance in Paris ?

Need to open up my ears, if not my veins.

ib said...