The JBs - Doin' It To Death (LP)
For starters, this platter begins with one of the great intros of all time: “Ladies and gentlemen, there are seven acknowledged wonders of the world. You are about to witness the eighth…”
Lodged in a deep groove between the JB’s’ debut LP Food For Thought (1972) and the more complex and at-times political Damn Right, I Am Somebody (from 1974) sits the ridiculously vampy and infectious classic, Doing It To Death. First moving hips and making heads nod in 1973, the James Brown-produced, 5-song album is one big funk lick, broken up into many delicious moving parts.
As with pretty much everything produced by the JB’s – led by Fred Wesley with heavy help from a supporting cast that included saxophonist Maceo Parker, guitarists Jimmy Nolen and Hearlon “Cheese” Martin and drummer John “Jabo” Starks – all songs began and revolved around a devastating riff. The title track is most certainly guilty-as-charged, as it starts strutting right out of the gate and continues for just over 10 minutes, driven by a guitar lick and MCed by the inimitable James Brown, with soloists stepping up and out while the song chugs on.
The other centerpiece of the album is the 8-minute “You Can Have Watergate Just Gimme Some Bucks And I’ll Be Straight,” whose groove is interestingly teased two times before it arrives in full form. The song title itself is provocative, and the music keeps a stone-cold groove despite the less than cheery undertones. Again driven by an infectious guitar morsel, the breakdowns in this song gave sampling producers and DJs sweet dreams in the ‘80s, and Fred Wesley’s trombone solo rides beautifully over the group’s cries of “We need some money.”
Beyond the aforementioned sure-shots, the twitchy “More Peas,” “La Di Da La Di Day” and the much jazzier, solo-heavy “Sucker” round out this incredible album. It’s just another perfect example of how James Brown’s funk machine could stop the world when they hit a groove.