James Brown

Sex Machine Today

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The most innovative R&B artist of the late '60s and early '70s, James Brown had fallen well behind the curve by 1975 when he tried to retread an old hit with Sex Machine Today. "I admit we wasn't as funky as we used to be, but we was tryin' harder," he muttered at the top of side two, and it was a painfully accurate admission. Brown was at a peak of self-mythologizing; his name appeared on the LP label four times, accompanied by the sobriquets "the Godfather of Soul" and "minister of new new super heavy funk." But his legendary band had fragmented and he seemed to have run out of ideas. It wasn't enough to call your music "disco soul," let out a howl, and shout, "Sex machine!" every few minutes. Once, Brown had led funk music in new directions, but now he seemed to be doing the best he could just to borrow others' styles and invoke old glories.

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