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.
Super Soul was a little funkier than much soul-jazz that had passed before 1967, and its horn parts sometimes slanted more toward pop and soundtrack territory. That was particularly evident on one of the strongest cuts, the opening "Why Don't You Do Right?," where the rhythm (particularly with the aid of a conga drum) goes into grooves that are at least as much soul as jazz, and the horns have a TV adventure theme-like flavor. The album's a little on the innocuous side, even for a genre (Prestige 1960s soul-jazz) that can be pretty homogeneous. It's easygoing background party music, though Holmes summons an interesting light, prickly, almost vibes-like organ sound at times, as on the solo for the cover of Marvin Gaye's "Ain't That Peculiar."
The two albums included here, New Groove, and Barefoot Adventure, present Bud Shank not only on alto sax, but also on baritone, an instrument he had played in clubs and as a sideman in sporadic studio sessions since the early 50s, but never before on his own recording dates. And while his alto has his customary command and fluency, his work on the less familiar baritone is equally impressive, the sound hard and driving, with expressive use of dynamics.