Friday, August 29, 2014


'Boogie, boogie, boogie!' The opening line of James Brown's 'Take a Look at Those Cakes' says it all. Here is a man fresh out of ideas and at the dawn of what is officially known as his 'Wank period'. The saxophone flourish that follows however says different, the beat as well. There are similarities to Ornette Coleman's 'Times Square' and at a stretch I could even try and sell this too you as James Brown's long lost 'No Wave' album, but it's not. It's a happy accident at best.

So, James Brown. I believe there's a biopic on it's way to a cinema near you as I type. It'll be interesting to see how closely it examines the part of his career where he started to look just like my nan - From his freakishly wide face to his Umpalumpa perm. By 1978 the guy was well on his way to being a fucking car crash... As well as grand mother impersonator. Not to say any of this is to the detriment of what I am listening to as I type away on my grubby keyboard.

'Take at Look at Those Cakes' is not a paean to Delia Smith or any other culinary goddess for that matter. It's about big, fat round arses. During the title track James asks numerous fellow musicians if they can 'see' those cakes. Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder etc. Idea being that said arses in question are so utterly compelling, nay mouthwatering that they somehow also have the ability to cure blindness and potentially other crippling diseases. 

'Stephen Hawking! Can you see those cakes?'

If you look at the above sleeve you can see that Brown is utterly transfixed but the cakes are facing the wrong way... WAIT! Unless 'Cakes' is vagina? I mean, I suppose it could be, but I am sticking with my original observation and the understanding that a cake is in fact a bottom and not anything else. Where Brown James still alive it would be great to get a definitive answer on exactly what said 'cake' was and where cake ended and flat out female genitalia began. 

The second track is shit. 'A Man Understands' is bad yacht rock funk. In fairness expecting earth shattering funk from anything in 1978 is a bit of an ask. The entire genre was well and truly fucked by that point this record being a case in point - You can almost see 'funk' disappearing up it's own arse. Maybe that's what the cartoon James Brown is waiting for on his ambitious silver sofa? 

'Someone to Talk To' is late nite latter day soul, totally inoffensive if not a tad repetitive but then that was kind of JB's thing wasn't it coming across like he had OCD saying the same line, word or phrase over and over again. Anyway, there' nothing wrong with this at all, it's just massively sleep inducing and not massively inspiring. 'Spring' the penultimate track is also pretty average, it keeps suggesting it might go somewhere but ultimately any or all efforts are thwarted by apathy - It's a filler track. He has a title and he's nailed the opening track. If you are still awake by this point it's because a.) you are being polite or b.) you only have one record.

Mercifully the album ends after five tracks. The closer 'As Long As I Love You' is alright. He says 'As Long As I Love You' approximately 128 times in the space of eight minutes which is pretty impressive. It makes me wonder what an Alan Vega / James Brown collab might have sounded like. 

So, you don't need to get this album. I do because I am obsessed with bottoms and am at least temporarily under the misguided impression that this might well be one of the greatest record sleeves ever conceived. Why, oh why didn't they stretch to a gate-fold?

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