James Barnes & the Agents – Good and Funky


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Listen – Good and Funky MP3″

Greetings all.

I’m back (for now). I can’t say as our troubles have subsided, but at the risk of jinxing the whole deal, I think we may be standing on the verge of getting it together.
I’m not going to bore you with the details, but long story short, it’s what the evil hoodoo types in corporate training might refer to as an “unexpected challenge”. I’m not one of those ‘get lemons, make’em into lemonade’ types. I’d really rather not get the lemons in the first place, but in the interest of maintaining my status as a responsible husband and father I’m trying not to dig a hole in the park and jump in like the guy on Seinfeld.
It also pays to note, as I said in passing last week, there are people out there with much more serious problems on their agenda, so I’ll just try to keep things in perspective and be happy that I have a great family.
The business I work in is also entering its regularly scheduled, year-end, all eye-rolling, all teeth-gnashing litany of financial sorrows (which last year resulted in a little bit of downsizery coming my way), so who knows what the hell is going to happen. I’m keeping my fingers crossed…
Today’s selection is a record that I knew about for a long time, but hadn’t actually heard until I got my hands on a copy earlier this year.
Suffice to say, ‘Good and Funky’ by James Barnes & the Agents is both.
Initially, my research came across some rumors/assumptions that ‘James Barnes’ was in fact famous Northern Soul fave and all around good guy ‘JJ Barnes’. This had a lot to do with the fact the both Barnes’s (though it seems that James might in fact have also worked under the name ‘Jock Mitchell’, and I have no idea which is the pseudonym) were operating out of the close-knit Detroit soul scene, crossing paths with many of the usual suspects. It has also been reported that ‘Good and Funky’ shares a backing track with JJ Barnes ‘I Ain’t Gonna Do It’ on Ric-Tic.
However, give both singers a listen, and I think you’ll agree with me that they sound nothing alike.
That all said (and if any of you know the real deal, drop me a line), the record is a killer. The opening sounds like someone was hanging on the doorknob of the tightly sealed closet of Funk, and the recorder was turned on just as it flew open, an avalanche of musicians being propelled into the room.
The record has just the right amount of low-fi charm with the bass, drums and horn section clearly sending the meters into the red, so much so that there are points where the music seems about to tear the record in two. I love the soul clapping and the xylophone accents, and the vocalists are clearly having a lot of fun, which is of course what you might expect were you to spin this one for a roomful of sweaty partygoers.
Interestingly enough, the Golden Hit discography – a brief four records – are all in some way Agents related, with two attributed to James Barnes & the Agents (with the b-side of the second listed as ‘James Barnes & the Funky Four’, one to ‘Jock Mitchell and the Fabulous Agents’, and the last to the ‘Funky Four Plus’, with a couple of tracks recycled as instrumentals among them.
I hope you dig it.

PS Check out the new psychedelic podcast over at Iron Leg…



3 Responses to “James Barnes & the Agents – Good and Funky”

  1. Jon Says:

    Great track! I love that low tech intensity. Keep strong and keep posting. Sorry I don’t leave comments more often but i check your site every week at least. An education and a delight.

  2. maaayonaise Says:

    your blog is the greatest. (i’m a long-time reader, first-time poster.) keep on rolling with the funk. your site deserves so much credit for my education and passion in new music.

  3. funky16corners Says:


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