That we should lose a soul legend such as James Brown at the comparatively young age of 73 was bad enough, but his dying on Christmas Day 2006 compounded the ignominy immeasurably. Brown can be credited with virtually single-handedly inventing funk, and his half-sung, half-spoken vocalisations influenced rap. He had more ground-breaking singles than anybody except possibly Elvis, and was the voice of black America for decades. His track Funky Drummer remains the most sampled record in music history.
Peel slotted today’s offering into a couple of shows, but he played Brown fairly frequently (making Lowdown Popcorn one of his choices foro the 1970 Peelenium), recognising his astonishing talent and knack for musical creation. Please Come Home For Christmas is no doubt more familiar from Charles Brown’s original, the Eagles’ underpowered cover, or at the other extreme Bon Jovi’s histrionics to mind-munbing effect. Brown, however, characteristically builds from the heartfelt and understated opening, then midway unleashes the volcanic power evident in his stage shows, almost screaming as he conveys the agony of a Yuletide home alone: ‘pouring water on a drowning man.’ . Quite extraordinary, and even if you’re as impressed by the man’s output as I am, this will strike a new chord with you.
James Brown, Please Come Home For Christmas