The tenth volume in Hip-O Select's ongoing chronicle of James Brown
's singles covers the second half of the '70s. That the first part of the '70s had to be covered in three volumes, and these five years fit rather comfortably onto one collection says a lot about JB
's declining output and influence during the disco era. Brown
was a fierce funk trailblazer, essentially creating a good chunk of the form, but he seemed to be playing catch-up after disco, going so far as to rework David Bowie
's "Fame" for the "Hot (I Need to Be Loved, Loved, Loved, Loved)" single -- a sign that James
was no longer setting the beat but following it. Lagging behind doesn't fit James Brown
's image, so this music is often dismissed, and while The Singles, Vol. 10: 1975-1979
doesn't necessarily make a rousing case for this era being underappreciated, it does have its moments, including the hits "It's Too Funky in Here" and "Get Up Offa That Thing."
And for the hardcore -- and at this point, the fans of this series primarily consist of the devoted -- this set does have several rarities, including the J.B.'s
final effort for People
"Everybody Wanna Get Funky One More Time" and Brown
's salute to the University of Georgia's football team, "Dooley's Junkyard Dogs," a tribute that's better in theory than in practice. Brown
also dips his toe into quiet storm on "Kiss in 77," a move that bolsters the suspicion that he was following the winds of fashion of the time. But he could still pull a rabbit out of his hat on occasion, as on "It's Too Funky in Here," one of his few disco singles that has the grit, groove, and passion of his best funk, a difference so notable it's not a surprise that it became his first genuine disco hit.