Five Men in a Hut is basically the final roundup for Gomez's Hut/Virgin years, but it's a positive boon for fans, especially in the U.S. In the U.K., each Gomez album had at least a few associated singles, but they never got the same treatment stateside. Since each album had a certain specific "sound" to it, one can see how some of these songs wouldn't have fit with the album they were recorded with, but the B-sides were hardly throwaways. In fact, the B-sides were often excellent and allowed the band to try different things and stretch out a bit. Abandoned Shopping Trolley Hotline gathered a few of these tracks, but more than half of Five Men in a Hut is comprised of B-sides (and two previously unreleased tunes) so ultimately all the A's and B's of many of these singles are now readily available.
With this subtly provocative solo recital, Ted Rosenthal merges three very different streams of piano history, putting his personal stamp on all of them. He pays homage to Bill Evans with "I Loves You Porgy," "Turn out the Stars," and "Waltz for Debby," playing the last in 5/4 but reverting to 4/4 only on his second solo chorus. The Bud Powell portion is more extensive, consisting of "Tempus Fugit," "Wail," "I'll Keep Loving You," "Celia," "Parisian Thoroughfare," and, in another 5/4 interpretation, the closing "Tea for Two." Last but not least, Rosenthal unveils his improvisational approach to Beethoven with the latter two movements of the "Pathetique" sonata, as well as the third movement of "Opus 109," which inspires a full nine minutes of spirited invention. In Rosenthal's hands all this music sounds as though it sprang from the same muse, and that's the sign of a skilled, imaginative artist.
No fan of classic funk (or of the "rare groove" school of dance music) will be able to look at this album without starting to drool – the period-piece cover art; the Jimmy Walker hats and bell-bottoms; and the presence of such magic names as Fred Wesley, Pee Wee Ellis, Bobby Byrd and Clyde Stubblefield (not to mention the insanely funky bassist Bootsie Collins who is better known as a charter member of Parliament/Funkadelic but is also a J.B.'s alumnus) – all of it will lead the perceptive groovehound to anticipate an hour or so of irresistibly booty-shaking funk. And that's exactly what you get: no frills, no synthesizers, basically no acknowledgement of change in the pop music world. From the greasy "Do the Doo" to the CD bonus track, "Mistakes and All," which ends the program, Bring the Funk on Down delivers almost nothing but hardcore, horn-heavy old-school funk (with a couple of brief and uninspiring excursions into ballad territory another James Brown tradition). Highlights include the slowly simmering title track and the archetypal "Born to Groove" but the album is really pretty consistent. The only downside is the absence of Maceo Parker who plays only on the final track. Highly recommended.
In addition to backing Brown on stage and on record during this era, the J.B.'s also recorded albums and singles on their own, sometimes with Brown performing on organ or synthesizer. Their albums were generally a mixture of heavy funk tracks and some more jazz-oriented pieces. They scored a number of chart hits in the early 1970s, including "Pass the Peas," "Gimme Some More," and the #1 R&B hit, "Doing It to Death". Credited to "Fred Wesley & the J.B.'s", "Doing It to Death" sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in July 1973. Nearly all of their recordings were produced by Brown and most were released on his own label, People Records. Like most of James Brown's music, the J.B.'s recorded output has been heavily mined for samples by hip hop DJs and record producers.