It took only 20 seconds for Clyde Stubblefield to drum his way to immortality. They came near the end of James Brown’s “Funky Drummer,” recorded in a Cincinnati studio in late 1969. Brown counts him in — “1, 2, 3, 4. Hit it!” — and Mr. Stubblefield eases into a cool pattern, part bendy funk and part hard march. It’s calm, slick and precise, and atop it, Brown asks over and over, “Ain’t it funky?”
It was. That brief snippet of percussion excellence became the platonic ideal of a breakbeat, the foundation of hip-hop’s sampling era and a direct through line from the ferocious soul music of the civil rights era to the golden age of history-minded hip-hop of the 1980s and 1990s.
Though Mr. Stubblefield wasn’t enamored of the song — “I didn’t like the song. I still don’t really get off on it,” he told Paste magazine in 2014 — its mark became indelible. Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out,” Boogie Down Productions’s “South Bronx,” Sinead O’Connor’s “I Am Stretched on Your Grave,” George Michael’s “Freedom! ’90” and Kenny G’s “G-Bop”: Mr. Stubblefield’s “Funky Drummer” break appeared as a sample in all of those songs, and over a thousand more, beginning in the 1980s, right up through present day.
It’s not a sample here but it is copied as the basic beat of the piece:
Iggy, born James Osterberg Jr, was a native of Muskegon, Michigan, who rejected the twee high-school band he was in to hang out with blues musicians and things continued from there. (His high school career itself is of course entirely irrelevant.) He describes his musical epiphany like this: “I smoked a big joint by the river and realised that I was not black.” But he did realise that he was a magnetically animal stage presence who revelled in sexy shirtlessness. He had moves like Jagger … better than Jagger.
When Search and Destroy crashes out of the screen, it sounds more terrifying than ever, and Iggy has some great commentary on it. James Williamson’s guitar, he says, fills the space like a drug dog, searching everywhere. Amusingly, he attributes his gift for pithy lyrics to a TV kids’ show presenter called Soupy Sales who asked viewers to write in – but to limit their messages to 25 words. Cheekily, Iggy contrasts this with prolix Bob Dylan, a cartoon of whom is shown droning: “Blah, blah, blah …” (Iggy Pop is one of the few people who can get away with this kind of blasphemy.) Unwholesome rock’n’roll excitement.
The fun being that the drummer and bass guitarist on Lust for Life etc were in fact the sons of Soupy Sales.
How You Can’t Always Get What You Want became Donald Trump’s bizarre theme song
The Rolling Stones asked Trump to stop using their song but he ignored them – and he’s not the first Republican to defy artists’ objections
These follow a certain format, these pieces in The Guardian. Nice final line today:
I would so pay to watch something like that right now. Well, you can’t always get what you want.
Do say: “But if you try sometimes, you just might find … oh God, this is a nightmare.”
Don’t say: “I groped her today at the reception.”
Rerecording that with ISteve type lyrics could well become something of a hit really. Why not, Weird Al has had a number 1 recently hasn’t he?
The Rolling Stones have hinted they are about to release their first album in more than a decade, apparently a collection of covers of Chicago blues classics.
There’s a fun story about their first album. Which was covers of blues songs.
So, they all march into a nightclub to the adulation of the babes. And the DJ then plays their entire album, in order. Except that it’s the original of each of their covers.
I admit that I like a lot of the Stones stuff but that’s because I like amplified blues. I like a lot of Led Zep for the same reason, it’s blues turned up to 11. Yeah, alright, the musicologists will complain about details but….
Sometimes Led Zep even listed the original songwriters properly.
Unlike the Stones when they covered a Pop Staples piece……
He also remained a prolific songwriter. Characteristically one of his final compositions was titled When I Die, Just Bury Me at Wal-Mart (So My Wife Will Come Visit Me).
Actually rather too much musical talent for a rather weak song.
Reminds me of Lewis Grizzard (and yes, if you haven’t, you want to read some of him). Where the game is to write a country song. Which is to write just the title, from which you now know everything about how the song is going to go.
First it was the Beatles, now Motown classics are to be re-recorded by stars for a new Netflix children’s show aimed at reaching out to parents tired of listening to saccharine children’s songs.
Hot on the heels of forthcoming animation series Beat Bugs, which features modern renditions of the Beatles classics sung by artists including Rod Stewart, Robbie Williams and James Corden, comes another show from the same creator, which will be based on the songs of Motown artists such as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and the Jackson 5.
Seen a few of the trailers (hey, who wouldn’t on hearing of this?) and it’s all rather fun. Not entirely convinced the covers are better (Rod doing Sgt Pepper would be fun to hear but I can’t find it) but you know, better than Inky Tinky or whatever the Teletubbies songs were.
One complaint though. The animation of the mouths for the characters who are supposedly singing is terrible. Having actually been involved in a project that worked on this, marginally at least, I know it’s difficult. But, but no, more effort should have been expended there. It is possible to get it right.
And with Motown, really important question. Who are they going to use as the backing band? The Funk Brothers are still largely available…..
And if they are, if they can have just the one moment that is this at 3.35:
I’ve said this before and no doubt I’ll say it again. But at 3.35 and just following there’s that shit eating grin of being with a fucking hot band and knowing that you’re absolutely nailing it.
Just absolutely nothing quite like it. And if Netflix manages to coax that sort of work, even if it’s only for a few moments over the 50 songs, then they’ll have done well.
One of the current debates is over “cultural appropriation” – The idea that white people should not appropriate the culture of ethnic and racial minorities. I know that you don’t like the term “blue eyed soul.” Have you followed this conversation?
Are you trying to say that I don’t own the style of music that I grew up with and sing? I grew up with this music. It is not about being black or white. That is the most naïve attitude I’ve ever heard in my life. That is so far in the past, I hope, for everyone’s sake. It isn’t even an issue to discuss. The music that you listened to when you grew up is your music. It has nothing to do with “cultural appropriation.”
I agree with you entirely, because…
I’m glad that you do, because anyone who says that should shut the fuck up.