Magazine article Guitar Player

The Funkmasters: The Great James Brown Rhythm Sections, 1960-1973

Magazine article Guitar Player

The Funkmasters: The Great James Brown Rhythm Sections, 1960-1973

Article excerpt

Trying to learn to play funk from transcribed guitar licks is like attempting to reconstruct a stained-glass window with just the red pieces. In funk more than perhaps any other pop music, individual parts make little sense out of context -- they're defined by the way they interact with their opposing rhythms. Play through a guitar transcription of, say, a Kiss song you've never heard, and you'll have a good idea what the tune is about; study the isolated guitar line from James Brown's "Cold Sweat," and you won't know jack. But the minutely detailed rhythm-section transcriptions and analyses in this labor-of-love tome illuminate the explosive ego-free groovesmanship that elevated these classic J.B. tracks to the top tier of American pop culture.

The 22 tunes scrutinized span Brown's greatest years, from early R&B hits such as "Think" through the funk-defining genius of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "Cold Sweat" to the fat-free polyrhythmic potency of such early-'70s tracks as "Hot Pants" and "Make It Funky. …

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