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Music Notes

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 26, 2006 6:15PM

Though our Christmas holiday was lovely enough (thanks for asking), the death of 2006_12_jamesbrown.jpgJames Brown cast a pall over its early morning hours. He was a conflicted man with his share of personal and legal troubles, but in a genre that too often fails to recognize those who paved the way, James Brown’s influence over hip-hop may still be underrated, despite all his renown.

The AP story on Brown’s passing is poorly written and researched, but Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis both deliver enough facts wrapped in context and history to tell the story of the man who was an onstage dynamo that transcended any nickname applied to him. James Brown’s Funky Christmas compilation is a holiday staple at Chicagoist’s house, but for those wanting a lesson in the man’s musical greatness, we recommend In The Jungle Groove or Sex Machine – if you want to hit it and quit it – or splurge on the Star Time boxed set, which is worth every penny of its slow molasses grooves.

In music news that’s closer to home and a bit more uplifting, former Bears coach Mike Ditka has started a record label. Unfortunately, Sun-Times columnist Lewis Lazare reports (last item) that Da Coach is not singing on the inaugural release from Ditka Records, an album of Frank Sinatra covers sung by someone named Jim Vincent. According to its website, Ditka Records will feature “the sounds of a bygone era in a new way.”

Finally, WBEZ is looking for a new name for its world music show “Passport.” New host Tony Sarabia plans on expanding the format to include “a bit more electronica and rock from different parts of the globe,” as well as more music from local Chicago artists. Suggestions for the new name should be sent to newname at