The JB’s – 1972 – Food For Thought
There are funk bands. And then there are The JB’s.
In the early 1970s, James Brown’s production stable was quite simply overflowing with soul. Beyond his own genre-bursting music – which brought funk and R&B to new stratospheres with each platter he released – he began to curate his own label, People Records, to explore and expose the lesser-known talent in his own groups and musical universe. After a mysterious, psychedelic album by a group calling themselves The Grodeck Whipperjenny in 1970, The Godfather Of Soul released a slew of 7-inch singles for the next several years on People. In doing so, he firmly established the label as the world’s premier outlet for super-funk, with artists including James Brown himself, Lyn Collins, Hank Ballard and Fred Wesley.
In 1972, the next album on People was an easy choice: The JB’s and their ridiculously funky full-length debut, Food For Thought. Made up of JB sidemen including bandleader Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, John ‘Jabo’ Starks, St. Clair Pinckney, Fred Thomas and Bobby Byrd, the group was the definition of a powerhouse. As proof, look no further than the fact that the ten songs on this platter have been sampled by an almost uncountable list of producers over the past 40-plus years, and grooved to by hundreds of thousands.
From ‘Pass The Peas‘ and ‘Gimme Some More‘ to the sonic attack of ‘The Grunt‘ [which also contained work from William ‘Bootsy’ Collins and his brother Catfish, who had recently defected to join Parliament-Funkadelic] Food For Thought remains one of the funkiest albums ever made.
A1 Pass the Peas 3:30
A2 Gimme Some More 3:05
A3 To My Brother 2:32
A4 Wine Spot 3:29
A5 Hot Pants Road 2:45
A6 The Grunt 2:45
B1 Blessed Blackness 3:44
B2 Escape-ism (Part 1) 3:16
B3 Escape-ism (Part 2) 4:04
B4 Theme From King Heroin 3:08
B5 These Are the JB’s 3:01
Review by Soulmakossa
James Brown’s band, the J.B.’s, pumped out high quality funk albums as well, starting with ‘Food for Thought’, a record brimming with funk grooves that’s been the staple of DJ and Hip Hopper’s diets ever since the ’80s.
This LP is also remarkable in that it features three very different sets of J.B.’s. Firstly, it includes the funk monster “The Grunt“, a hard socking rhythm riot that was waxed by the Original – that is, the first – J.B.’s, with Bootsy Collins on bass.
The bulk of funk here was committed to vinyl by the ‘new’ J.B.’s; the players Fred Wesley brought in after Bootsy and co. upped and left in 1971. Stripped funk, raw as uncooked meat, was this group’s forte, as is demonstrated on such classics as “Pass the Peas“, “Gimme Some More” and the stuttering “Hot Pants Road“, where bassist Fred Thomas really locks into the groove.
Also included here are the stupendously syncopated “To My Brother“, the right-on anthem “These Are the J.B.’s” and “Escape-ism (Parts 1 & 2)“, a track that was actually released as a James Brown single and made the R&B Top 10.
Finally, Fred Wesley created two super thick slices of jazz-infused funk with the cream of the crop of New York’s session musicians, cutting the bossa nova cruiser “Blessed Blackness” and the sweaty soul-jazz romp “Wine Spot“. A third track recorded with this group, “J.B. Shout“, wind up on the flipside of “Back Stabbers“, a single only release credited to Fred Wesley & The J.B.’s.
The haunting, achingly beautiful “Theme From King Heroin” is on this album as well, and was also recorded by studio musicians.