A tremendous turning point in the career of James Brown – and an album that points the way strongly to the even deeper funk of the 70s! The album's a hard-wailing batch of instrumental tracks played by the legendary James Brown Band of the late 60s – the pre-JBs ensemble that's gone onto have possibly even more funky influence than the Godfather's combo in the 70s! James plays organ on the set – and supposedly a bit of guitar and drums (according to the notes) – but one of the main stars here is Pee Wee Ellis, whose alto lines really cook up some of the best tracks strongly. Yet possibly even more amazing is the overall rhythmic conception – tight, focused, and always on the money – snapping with a sharpness that's mindblowing even all these many years later – a whole new dimension in funky expression, hardly ever matched since!
More than a decade after scoring with the classic R&B instrumental "Honky Tonk," Bill Doggett teamed with producer James Brown to create "Honky Tonk Popcorn," a remarkably vital and relentlessly funky comeback effort on par with anything bearing the JB seal of approval. Doggett's laid-back, soulful organ fits perfectly within the context of Brown's dynamic funk arrangements. "Honky Tonk" is reborn as a ferocious groover, while "Honky Tonk Popcorn" invents the song yet again, this time with a galvanizing guitar lead. Covers of Edwin Starr's "Twenty Five Miles" and Otis Redding's "Mr. Pitiful" are no less incendiary, but what's most surprising is the energy of Doggett's new original material: "Mad" benefits from a monster drum break and a fiery saxophone solo, while the slow-burning "After Lunch" is as smooth and creamy as its title suggests.