Cynthia Rose's extended essay on James Brown is welcome not because it is particularly wonderful, but because I would as soon read an intelligent book about soul music as almost anything else. There are precious few of them: Nelson George's The Death Of Rhythm and Blues and Where Did Our Love Go (readable, if a little overburdened with fussy detail) and Peter Guralnick's brilliant Sweet Soul Music are three that spring to mind, but for the most part it is a musical genre that seems to attract more than its fair share of cranks and illiterates.
Cynthia Rose, of course, is neither, as those who remember her contributions to the New Musical Express in the late Seventies will testify. There are passages in this book that recall NME's vintage age, passages where enthusiasm, vernacular, cod sociology and pretension combine to form a dizzying mélange. 'With his