Thursday, February 28, 2013

Funky Drummer

"Funky Drummer" is a funk song recorded by James Brown and his band. The recording's drum break, performed by drummer Clyde Stubblefield, is one of the most frequently sampled rhythmic breaks in hip hop and popular music; indeed, it lays a strong claim to being the most sampled recording ever, along with the Amen Break.

"Funky Drummer" was recorded on November 20, 1969 in Cincinnati, Ohio and originally released by King Records as a two-part45 rpm single in March 1970. Despite rising to #20 on the R&B chart and #51 on the pop chart, it did not receive an album release until the 1986 compilation In the Jungle Groove.

The piece takes the form of an extended vamp, with individual instruments (mostly the tenor saxophones and organ) improvising brief licks on top. Brown's ad-libbed vocals on "Funky Drummer" are sporadic and declamatory, and are mostly concerned with encouraging the other band members.

As in the full-length version of "Cold Sweat" he announces the upcoming drum break, which comes late in the recording, with a request to "give the drummer some." He tells Stubblefield "You don't have to do no soloing, brother, just keep what you got... Don't turn it loose, 'cause it's a mother." Stubblefield's eight-bar unaccompanied "solo", a version of the riff he plays through most of the piece, is the result of Brown's directions; this break beat is one of the most sampled recordings in music.

After the drum break, the band returns to the original vamp. Brown, apparently impressed with what Stubblefield has produced, seems to name the song on the spot as it continues, and repeats it: "The name of this tune is 'The Funky Drummer', 'The Funky Drummer', 'The Funky Drummer'." The recording ends with a reprise of Stubblefield's solo and a fade-out.

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