Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The J.B.'s

  • Food for Thought [People, 1972] B-
  • Doing It to Death [People, 1973] B
  • Damn Right I Am Somebody [People, 1974] C+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Food for Thought [People, 1972]
On "Pass the Peas," "Gimme Some More," and an ensemble showpiece called "The Grunt," JB is conspicuous by his conceptual presence even when he's not passing, giving, or grunting. On "Escape-ism" he's conspicuous by his spiritual absence even though he raps through most of the track. Elsewhere he's just missed. B-

Doing It to Death [People, 1973]
The consumerist-conservationist in me is appalled by the whole idea of J.B.'s records, which are basically another way for James Brown to spread himself thin. The title riff is the best he's come up with since There It Is--two soundtracks, a compilation, a studio double, and another J.B.'s album ago--and might have been put to better use elsewhere. On the other hand, the whole first side is adequate James Brown--that is, pretty damn good. The second side stretches Brown out on organ, never my favorite vehicle for his talent. Theme song: "You Can Have Watergate Just Gimme Some Bucks and I'll Be Straight." Lot of different ways to take that. B

Damn Right I Am Somebody [People, 1974]
Significance of title designation: album masquerades intermittently as funk opera about black identity. Significance of artist designation: bandleader Wesley plays his trombone about fifty times as much as bandleader Brown sings. C+