“Doing It To Death” by Fred Wesley & The J.B.s (1973)

If The Godfather of Soul invites you to a party, you better show up ready to jam. Here, Fred, Maceo, Jabo and all the rest take a groove, set it to simmer, and the result is one of the all-time classics of funk. While credited to Fred Wesley & The J.B.s, this is a James Brown record. He’s the bandleader and the sole (pun not intended) lead vocalist. “Doing It To Death”; is a rare song that never mentions its title in the lyrics. Not that there are a hell of a lot of lyrics to begin with. James spends most of the song exhorting his band members (in a matter lampooned expertly by Eddie Murphy in his ‘80s standup routines). It’s entirely possible that you recognize this chart-topper not as “Doing It To Death”, but as “we’re gonna have a funky good time” or “we gotta take you higher!” I recognize it as the closing music to one of the radio shows I enjoyed listening to as a kid…but for the life of me, I can’t remember which radio show it was. Ah, it’s irrelevant anyway. Historical context isn’t necessary for proper appreciation of this jam and a half.

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