Originally Posted by Ground Pounder
The Funkmasters - The Great James Brown Rhythm Sections 1960-1973
by Allan "Dr. Licks" Slutsky and Chuck Silverman
Includes: 144-page lesson book, with 2-CD audio representations of all lessons, performed by Chuck Silverman (Drums), Steve Beskrone and Jimmy Williams (Bass), and Alan Slutsky (Guitars)
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A great approach to breaking down and analyzing early funk rhythm sections, with great stories and historical references into this era.
Technically, this is a beginner-to-intermediate lesson book, but the great stories and interviews included will appeal to all skill levels of fans of this genre.
Alfred / Manhattan Music Publications, 1996/1997
Dr. Licks and Chuck Silverman break down an analyze the men and music responsible for 23 of "The Godfather of Soul's" most influential songs from the 1960-to-1973 era. They start by profiling the history of each song, followed by a combined transcribed score of key rhythm section parts that define the song. They then take this one step further by breaking down the drums, bass, and guitars in seperate, insightful pieces, all accompanied by their own individual tracks on the CD's.
(From the book)
"The Funkmasters" is a multi-purpose book that aims to tell a story and teach a musical style at the same time. As an historical text, it traces the evolution of James Brown's most important rhythm sections by profiling the lives and careers of ground breaking drummers, bassists and guitarists. It also supplies background information and inside musicians stories that, hopefully, will make hits like "Cold Sweat" and "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" come alive for you.
The transcriptions - which form the backbone of this book - offer the first in-depth, charted documentation of what James Brown's musicians actually played on these monumental recordings. Aside from the raw notes that are printed on the page, the presentation of the arrangements is intended to be a musical tutorial that helps you play and understand these tunes by giving you a feel for the attitudes, concepts, and musical trends that went into their creation."
Another interesting approach of this book is that the author presents the tracks in a historical reference, starting with older tracks like "Think" (recorded in 1960), and "I Don't Mind" (recorded in1962), moving on to all-time favorites like "I Got You" (recorded in 1965), "Give it up or turnit a Loose" (recorded in 1968), "Get Up (I feel like a) Sex Machine" (recorded in 1970), and closing out with "The Payback" (recorded in 1973). By taking this approach, you really get a sense of how the music evolved through this time period as it opened up into a bigger, bolder, more intense and emotionally charged genre.
The lessons give great insight into JB's army of drummers from this era, including: Nat Kendrick, Clayton Fillyau, Melvin Parker, John "Jab-O" Starks, Clyde Stubblefield, William Bowman and Nate Jones.
(From the Book)
"I Got the Feelin", Clyde Stubblefield - Drums
Clyde must have been going through backbeat aversion therapy when he cut this track. With the exception of one solid hit on the second beat of the verse groove's second bar, every snare drum attack in this song is either ghosted or moved over to an upbeat. Downbeats on the kick drum are also a rarity. Their only occurance is on the first beat of each phrase. Add the upbeat accents of the open-and-closed hi-hat figures to this mix and it spells: Y-O-U N-E-E-D T-O P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E.
Because there is so little to hang on to in the way of solid downbeats, you must be constantly aware of where "one" is, or this groove falls off the table. It might help to start by learning the bridge pattern first as it's a simpler and more accessable version of the verse groove. Take your hat off when you listen to Clive playing on this recording. You're in the midst of greatness."
(this is followed by the transcribed music lesson).
All in all, this is an excellent resource for anyone interesting in deep-diving this musical genre, and is presented in a way that's educational, interesting, entertaining, and precise. While more experienced and accomplished drummers may only take a few sessions to work through this material, it presents a great foundation for teaching drummers of all levels to break down and analyze the music of this era and genre.
The only drawback for me is that it is an older instructional piece, and therefore the quality of the CD recordings does leave something to be desired. However, the examples are clear and concise enough to get their message across, and with the advent of "music on-demand" via YouTube or purchase tracks from Amazon or iTunes, cross referencing these lessons with the actual recordings can be almost instantaneous.
(Consider yourself a lot luckier than us old fogies who had to run to the record store to buy new music!)
And if you have an unruly bass player who tends to play notes that sacrifice the groove? I highly recommend this book!
- Ground Pounder -