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James Brown's Funky Christmas

4.8 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 17, 1995
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Product Description

James Brown's Funky Christmas by James Brown

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Recorded at the height of Mr. Superbad's reign, this high-octane, 17-song set is guaranteed to give Santa Claus a soul transfusion--and put a little extra kick into that mistletoe kiss. While JB spends a fair amount of time pouring his heart out on inspired renditions of favorites such as "Merry Christmas Baby" and "Please Come Home," he and his always-stellar band really shine on a spate of originals that takes Christmas from an idealized holiday and makes it real. They do so in ways that are fun ("Go Power at Christmas Time") or with a dose of social consciousness ("Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto"), but the mere fact that Brown makes it all work--and makes it funky in the process--is a joy to behold. --David Sprague

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Go Power At Christmas Time
  2. Let's Unite The Whole World At Christmas
  3. Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto
  4. Merry Christmas Baby
  5. Let's Make Christmas Mean Something This Year
  6. Soulful Christmas
  7. The Christmas Song
  8. Sweet Little Baby Boy
  9. Christmas Is Love
  10. Please Come Home For Christmas
  11. Santa Claus Is Definitely Here To Stay
  12. Tit For Tat (Ain't No Taking Back)
  13. Signs Of Christmas
  14. Christmas In Heaven
  15. Hey America


Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 17, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal Motown Records Group
  • Run Time: 65 minutes
  • ASIN: B000001EFD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,824 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
The first few times I listened to this album, I couldn't decide if it was interesting or just plain weird, and to be honest, the first year I didn't play it very much. I like unusual Christmas records and I love James Brown, but shouts, moans and calls to Maceo Parker just didn't seem to cut it as Christmas music, even for me.
But I've had this album in the house for a couple of years now and I've noticed that a lot of the more traditional albums I own have moved to the bottom of the CD pile, while this one is getting a lot of play. It has really grown on me. A few of the songs have become personal "classics" -- songs I couldn't do without at Christmas. Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto and Hey America are classic funky James Brown. Sweet Little Baby Boy is gorgeous -- proof (if anyone doubts it) that James Brown can sing deep as well as fun and funky. Santa Claus, Santa Claus is so heartfelt it raises the hair on the back of your neck. And Soulful Christmas is right up there with Charles Brown's Merry Christmas Baby and Clarence Carter's Back Door Santa among the greatest r&b Christmas songs of all time.
Take out the embarrassing Christmas Song (James Brown was not born to sing Mel Torme songs) and you'd have a perfect Christmas album -- assuming your taste is not perfectly mainstream.
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Format: Audio CD
God, I love this album. Like some of my fellow reveiwers, I wasn't quite sure what to make of it at first, and didn't play it too much for a time. However, on the second round, I got completely hooked. It has such a great blend of deep soul, as well as outright cheer, that it's incredibly catchy. When I first started to "get" it, I was floored by the orchestration and musicality, and then, upon second glance, I was amazed by the messages James Brown puts across. Very eye-opening. Now, this is ALWAYS on the shuffler at my Christmas parties, and very often during summer picnics, too. It shouldn't fall under any category - it's completely playable year-round. I love it, love it, love it. Don't know how to put it better.
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By A Customer on December 4, 1998
Format: Audio CD
Not content to just sing other peoples' Christmas songs, the Hardest Working Man in Show Business wrote original songs in the 1960s and 1970s for the holiday season. Tunes like "Let's Make Christmas Mean Something this Year" showcase James' gospel roots while reveling in a weirdnes of spoken dialog, screams, and yelps that would make "the artist formerly known as" jealous. The other standout is "Soulful Christmas" where the JB backbeat is applied to the yuletide log along with JB's patented shout-outs to sax man Maceo Parker. People either love this disc or hate it. For years out of print, it was only re-issued about 2-3 years ago. Not recommended to listen to while driving, as the strangeness of the album can provoke disabling fits of laughter.
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Format: Audio CD
Among the many joys of the holiday season, James Brown's Funky Christmas is very near the top of the list. For eleven months, my life is a little bit empty, until sometime between the day after Thanksgiving and December first when I break out this album and decide to officially start acknowledging that it's Christmas time. In fact, I'm amazed that this hasn't become a national ritual akin to lighting the Christmas tree. There isn't a thing on this earth that better prepares me for the season than Brown's soulful ode to yuletide joy.

Throughout the uncharacteristically lengthy holiday album, there are the obligatory sprinklings of holiday "chestnuts" - "Merry Christmas, Baby", "The Christmas Song". Though far from definitive, James gives them the soul treatment and they are definitely enjoyable. It's the bevy of original music that makes this recording a masterpiece, however. Unlike the annual deluge of insipid offerings from artists inspired more by cashing in on a quickie than by visions of sugar plums, Funky Christmas is a well-thought-out, well-written, full-length album that has a ton of heart. James obviously approached this as more than a side project. Take "Santa Claus, Go Straight to the Ghetto" or "Hey America". They are undoubtedly Christmas tunes, but with thoughtful political lyrics, and nowhere near as corny as "Feed the World" or "Happy Christmas (War is Over)". "Sweet Little Baby Boy" is a gorgeous ballad, and ought to be a standard by now. "Soulful Christmas" is right up there with "Christmas in Hollis" as the best holiday song that Andy Williams never sang.

Although Funky Christmas isn't exactly as funky as some of James' other work, it's got a lot going for it.
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Format: Audio CD
O.K. to be honest, I'm normally not a huge fan of Christmas albums... nothing personal... but, I don't know, there's just something a bit cheesy, if not schmaltzy and "un-kosher" about them... nevertheless this is one CD who's grits and gravy I can take with my hamhocks and blintzes all year around... I wish department store's would play THESE cuts over and over again... fans of late '60s soulful JB (going into the SUPERBAD '70s) when Nat Jones and Pee Wee Ellis were at the healm of his band... and circa the sound he had during his famous Live At the Apollo album, and those great SMASH instrumentals (check out that double CD boxed SOUL PRIDE instrumental set he has out) will love this... Big Production, well arranged, but with that funky groove, JB's great blues shouting and that greasy Hammond Organ will make you feel like Santa Claus is coming straight to *YOUR* ghettoe - - from the slick soulful ballads, to a mean JB groovin' hard and telling it like it is on HEY AMERICA... this is one JB album, you might have passed by, but I don't care if its the dead of summer or the first day of fall... you better get back, hit yourself, spin around and do the mashed potat'as, because its begining to look a LOT like Christmas... ! ! ! Outta the way BING ! ! !
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