Jun 112024
pons can't stand it

“Can’t Stand It” is a deep cut from James Brown’s 32nd album Hot Pants, basically a remake of his 1968 single “I Can’t Stand Myself When You Touch Me.” (Let’s pause to wonder how someone could release 32 albums in 13 years. Remaking songs probably helped.) It’s certainly not one of his better known songs but it is classic early ’70s James Brown funk, lean and full of his classic exhortations, including demanding horns which don’t show up until three and half minutes into the song.

Pons are a no-wave band currently working out of Brooklyn. They have released a couple of albums and a bunch of EPs over the last half decade and are notable for being a trio but having two drummers. As you might imagine, Pons’ cover of this James Brown deep cut does not sound anything like James Brown. Funnily, this may also be the first-ever cover of the song.

The guitar plays the riff faster and far more aggressive than the original but then the drums and vocals come in, along with some guitar overdubs, and the entire track is just drowning in sound. When the second set of drums comes for the chorus in any resemblance of James Brown disappears. Initially, the verses stay a tiny bit connected due to the lyrics and the guitar riff staying present in the mix, but everything else is utterly foreign. As the song progresses, things get denser and it gets harder and harder to recognize traces of the original song, at least until the bridge. (I’m disappointed I didn’t hear anyone shout “Bridge!”)

It’s extremely noisy, frenetic and wild and utterly foreign to the original. Your mileage may vary, but it’s certainly an original take on this very under-known James Brown track.

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