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The J.B.'s

The J.B.s were James Brown's band during the first half of the 1970s. On record the J.B.s were sometimes billed under various alternate names such as The James Brown Soul Train, Maceo and the Macks and The Last Word. In addition to backing Brown the J.B.s played behind Bobby Byrd, Lyn Collins and other singers associated with the James Brown Revue, as well as performing as a self-contained group.

Career

The "original" J.B.s

The J.B.s were formed in March 1970 after most of the members of Brown's previous band walked out on him over a pay dispute. (Brown's previous bands of the 50s and 60s had been known variously as The James Brown Band, The James Brown Orchestra and The Poets.) The J.B.s initial lineup included bassist William "Bootsy" Collins and his guitarist brother Phelps "Catfish" Collins, formerly of the obscure R&B outfit The Pacesetters; Bobby Byrd (guitar) and John "Jabo" Starks (drums), both holdovers from Brown's 60s band; three inexperienced horn players, Clayton "Chicken" Gunnells, Darryl "Hasaan" Jamison, and Robert McCollough; and conga player Johnny Griggs. This version of the J.B.s played on some of Brown's most intense funk recordings, including "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine", "Super Bad", "Soul Power", and "Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothing". They also accompanied Brown on a European tour (during which they recorded the long-delayed live album Love Power Peace), performed on the Sex Machine double LP, and released two instrumental singles, the much-sampled "The Grunt" and "These Are the J.B.s".

Other lineups

In December 1970 trombonist Fred Wesley rejoined James Brown's organization to lead the J.B.s. Other former Brown sidemen including Maceo Parker and St. Clair Pinckney eventually followed his lead, while the Collins brothers and most of the rest of the "original" J.B.s left Brown to join George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic collective. The J.B.s lineup shifted frequently thereafter until the group disbanded in 1976 following the departures of Wesley and Parker.

Recordings

In addition to backing Brown on stage and on record during this era, the J.B.s also recorded albums and singles on their own, sometimes with Brown performing on organ or synthesizer. Their albums were generally a mixture of heavy funk tracks and some more jazz-oriented pieces. They scored a number of chart hits in the early 70s, including "Pass the Peas," "Gimmie Some More," and the #1 R&B "Doing It to Death". Nearly all of their recordings were produced by Brown and most were released on his own label, People Records.

Like most of James Brown's music, the J.B.s recorded output has been heavily mined for samples by hip hop DJs and record producers.

The JB Horns

During the 1980s and 90s Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley intermittently toured under the name The JB Horns, sometimes with other former Brown sidemen such as Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis in tow. The JB Horns recorded several albums for the Gramavision label which were later reissued by Rhino Records. They also recorded an album under this name with producer Richard Mazda called I Like It Like That.

Reunion

A version of the J.B.s including Fred Wesley, Bootsy Collins, Pee Wee Ellis, Bobby Byrd and Clyde Stubblefield assembled to record the 2002 "reunion" album Bring the Funk on Down.

Discography

Albums

  • Food For Thought (1972)
  • Doing It To Death (1973)
  • Damn Right I Am Somebody (1974)
  • Breakin' Bread (1974)
  • Hustle with Speed (1975)
  • Bring The Funk On Down (2002)

Singles

  • 1970
    • The Grunt, Pt 1 / Pt2
    • These Are the JB's, Pt 1 / Pt 2
  • 1971
    • My Brother, Pt 1 / Pt 2
    • Gimme Some More / The Rabbit Got The Gun
  • 1972
    • Pass the Peas / Hot Pants Road
    • Givin' Up Food For Funk, Pt 1 / Pt 2
    • Back Stabbers / JB Shout
  • 1973
    • Watermelon Man / Alone Again, Naturally
    • Sportin' Life / Dirty Harri
    • Doing It To Death/ Everybody Got Soul
    • You Can Have Watergate / If You Don't Get It The First Time...
    • Same Beat, Pt 1 / Pt 2
  • 1974
    • Damn Right I Am Somebody, Pt 1 / Pt 2
    • Rockin' Funky Watergate, Pt 1 / Pt 2
    • Little Boy Black / Rockin Funky Watergate
    • Breakin' Bread / Funky Music Is My Style
  • 1975
    • Makin' Love / Rice 'n' Ribs
    • (It's Not the Express) It's the JB's Monaurail, Pt 1 / Pt 2
    • Thank You for Lettin' Me Be Myself and You Be Yours Pt 1 / Pt 2
  • 1976
    • All Aboard The Soul Funky Train / Thank You for Lettin'... Pt 1
    • Everybody Wanna Get Funky One More Time, Pt 1 / Pt 2

CD compilations

  • Funky Good Time: The Anthology (2 CD) (1995)
  • Pass the Peas: The Best of the J.B.s (2000)

External links

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