Friday, September 7, 2012

Rick James - Come Get It! (1978)

Rick James is known colloquially for his appearance on Chapelle's Show and musically for his single "Super Freak," and James's auspicious debut in the late 1970s comes on strong with all of that. With tracks entitled "Sexy Lady," "Dream Maker," and "Mary Jane" it's easy to see that the whole sex and drugs routine was there from the very beginning. Musically Come Get It! is a great album which opens and closes with live footage of James and the Stone City Band. In the studio, the band is really just James on most of the instruments and in fact it wasn't until later in his career that the band existed in any other form other than live.  The two big singles from the album are "You and I" and "Mary Jane" which really started his career off. "Mary Jane," an obvious ode to marijuana is great for its laidback guitar accompaniment and especially the effect on James's voice in the chorus on the words "Do You." One of the great things about this album in general is James's willingness to embrace a variety of electronic effects and instruments without them compromising the integrity of the intimate feel of his music. My favorite tune on the album is probably "Be My Lady" because it uses layered vocal harmony well in addition to having interesting horn parts and breakdowns. "Be My Lady" also has James paying homage to his origins in Buffalo. In conjunction with "Hollywood," James seems to be coming to terms with being a musician in the spotlight Rick James once famously declared himself the "King of Punk Funk" at the Stanley Theatre in Pittsburgh, but surprisingly it is hard not to notice the influence of disco on the album. The vocal parts, the guitar parts in "You and I" and "Sexy Lady,"and the open hi-hat are all very characteristic of disco throughout the album. The album showcases James's signature bass lines, which really made James the figure he was. However, tunes like "Hollywood" show how well James had control of the tenor range of his voice. James was really a fantastic writer and arranger, it's just a shame that he had personal and legal problems in his later career that really inhibited musical growth in his later career.

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