Soul Man

Friday, January 05, 2007 | 06:00 PM

We noted James Brown's passing last week. After that, I started poking around and discovered a live James Brown concert available for free download at NPR.

Since his death on Christmas day, sales of James Brown's albums have soared. We noted that the 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.

But the WSJ's Jesse Drucker points out that five other discs 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, mone and other reviewers):

1_foundations_of_funk 'Foundations of Funk: A Brand New Bag: 1964-1969'

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.

2_funk_power_1970 'Funk Power: 1970: A Brand New Thang'

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."

3_volume_ii 'Live at the Apollo, Volume II, Deluxe Edition'

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."

4_funky_people_i 'James Brown's Funky People, Parts 1-3'

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.

5_funky_people_ii 'James Brown's Funky People, Parts 2'

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.

6_funky_people_iii 'James Brown's Funky People, Parts 3'

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

Friday, January 05, 2007 | 06:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0) add to | digg digg this! | technorati add to technorati | email email this post



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i can't help but remember a wonderful story i once saw bootsy tell in an interview.

seems that mr. collins dropped some acid one night prior to a show. as he was trying to play, he realized that spiders were crawling all over his bass (hallucinatory spiders, that is, just to be clear) and retreated to the dressing room.

and that was it for bootsy in james brown's band! "the godfather didn't like that nohow" said bootsy with a big smile....

(which also reminds me of how duke ellington came to fire charles mingus after he chased juan tizol across the stage with a hatchet - what is it about bass players?)

anyhow, james brown was one of the most important musicians globally of the 20th century: i'm glad that i didn't miss the couple of chances that i had to see him (unlike, say, ray charles), and as a result of his death (and its reminder of the mortality of even the greatest of musicians) i'm going to be sure to catch merle haggard (whom i've never seen) when he comes to town next month.

Posted by: howard | Jan 6, 2007 12:36:42 AM

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