Saturday, December 30, 2006
Since his death on Christmas, sales of his CDs have (not surprisingly) soared. As we noted, 1962 "Live at the Apollo" and the 1991 four-CD box set "Star Time" were both fast ways to get into the Godfather of Soul.
The WSJ's Jesse Drucker points out that other discs have quickly made Amazon's top 10 "Movers and Shakers" list. Beyond those seminal live and boxed set discs, Drucker points out "numerous other albums and collections highlighting key periods for the artist." Below are his selections of key recordings (comments are a mix of his, mine and other reviewers):
Funk 101: This double CD captures the true origins of funk with "Out of Sight," the 1964 hit that put an unprecedented emphasis on rhythm, and then heats up several degrees with "Cold Sweat." From "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" to "Say It Loud-I'm Black and I'm Proud," to live versions of "Licking Stick-Licking Stick" and "Mother Popcorn," this recording is funkalicious.
After Mr. Brown's core band quit in frustration in 1970, it was quickly replaced by a new backing ensemble, featuring the thumping bass of an 18-year-old Bootsy Collins. John Corbett wrote: "This is the edgiest, meanest, leanest lineup maestro James Brown ever assembled, and the music they made in this single year is still among the freshest, most soul-stirring funk on earth decades later."
Lesser known than the first Apollo record, this two-CD concert from 1967 was reissued in 2001 with unreleased tracks. A nearly 24-minute-long medley features "There Was a Time." Rickey Wright wrote: "This second Live at the Apollo caught Brown giving full stick to both his classic soul-ballad style and the funk his band was developing practically in front of the crowds' ears."
Three separate collections capture Mr. Brown's production work on recordings by members of his musical entourage: the J.B.'s, Bobby Byrd, Marva Whitney and others. Parts of Lyn Collins's "Think (About It)" are among the most sampled in hip-hop history -- "It takes two to make a thing go right." For old school rap and hip hop freaks, this CD is the mutherload of beats and funky grooves.
You will instantly recognize Bobby Byrd's deep, resonant voice from James Brown's "Sex Machine; Lynn Collins is the featured diva on Funky People Pt. 1, "Hip-hop fans will recognize "Blow Your Head" as the source for Public Enemy's very first song, "Public Enemy #1". If you love simple basslines, funky rhythms and soul full voices, you will find every track is a winner.
This one fills in gaps left in the previous parts, including some rare historic moments. "Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothin' evokes the future funk crawl of Sly Stone; Also on this dsic: the "criminally underrated female vocalists Lyn Collins (in a fiery "Giveit Up") and Vicki Anderson."
Good funky stuff!
Music: Soul Man
December 30, 2006; Page P2
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