Friday, September 26, 2014

24 Live at the Apollo (1963) James Brown


1. Introduction to James Brown and The Famous Flames
2. I'll Go Crazy
3. Try Me
4. Think
5. I Don’t Mind
6. Lost Someone
7. Medley: Please, Please, Please/You've Got the Power/I Found Someone/Why Do You Do Me/I Want You So Bad/I Love You, Yes I Do/Strange Things Happen/Bewildered/Please, Please, Please
8. Night Train


James Brown likes the Apollo which is just as well because they clearly like him too. It's a relationship based on mutual love and affection and saw the hardest working man in showbusiness return to the illustrious venue on numerous occasions. It was clearly his favourite venue to produce a live album.

Live at the Apollo documents a James Brown show from 1962 recorded before anyone in the USA had heard of the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. He returned there for Live at the Apollo 2 in 1967 when everyone was pretty much obsessed with the Beatles and the Stones and again in 1971 when the Fab Four had broken up and the Stones were about to start their downward slide away from the peak of their career. He even returned again in 1994 for another live album.

According to popular opinion the first of these is worth having and the rest are pale imitations but to be honest I think that's not an accurate reading of the situation. The gulf in quality between Apollo 1 and its sequels isn't nearly as huge as many would have you believe and the later editions have the benefit of being more complete and comprehensive. Live at the Apollo 1 presents us with an abridged version of an early 1960's James Brown concert. It edits and cuts the show down to a half hour running time so it fits comfortably on two sides of vinyl. The following volumes have the benefit of being double albums and provide a much more comprehensive overview of the great man's show, especially in their lavish CD deluxe reissues.

The later volumes also benefit from the additions of some of Brown's greatest songs and signature tunes. Everyone who knows anything about Brown knows I got you (I feel good) which is absent from Volume 1 but appears in two of the sequels along with Get up (I feel like being a) sex machine which has the most annoying parenthesis in all of modern music.

There's nothing wrong with Live at the Apollo volume one and it deserves credit for what it did for Brown's career. It made him a superstar and brought his incredibly dynamic show into the home of anyone with a record player. It has huge historical significance and musical importance. But if you put on the four volumes of Live at the Apollo and played them to a room full of people it wouldn't have nearly the impact of its follow ups.

Live at the Apollo will do everything a James Brown album should do. It will have you tapping your toes and grooving along. It will make you appreciate what a sensational voice he had and how tight is band was. But it will leave you feeling slightly unsatisfied and hungry for more, something that the future volumes won't be guilty of. My advice: get them all. You can never have too much funk and Brown Funk is the best colour Funk around.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "!!! BEWARE, THIS MAY NOT BE WHAT YOU WANT-1962 CLASSIC IS ELSEWHERE !!! !! IF ITS NOT A LIVING BABY, THEN YOUR'E NOT PREGNANT !!"

-That's just about the strangest thing I've read on Amazon ever. Even without the exclamation marks.

So does this make you go Crazy? let me know below.

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