When I hear the name, James Brown, I think the master of funk and soul providing decades of memorable music, often known as the ‘Godfather’ of funk. Although he passed away in December 2006, his music still lives on and its now time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Live at the Apollo, originally released in 1963.
Best Of Live At The Apollo: 50th Anniversary rounds up all of the top 12 songs including an intro from that momentous night, if you are an avid James Brown fan or just have a love of Funk music then ‘Get up off of that thang’ and get listening.
Seeing as it has been 50 yrs since the night the album was recorded, you would probably assume that with all the modern technology the audio would have been smoothed out and not be able to grab that classic live crackle and the live essence from the show. Fear not it has not been tampered with and it has that live feel and more, you can feel that in the intro titled Introduction to James Brown where Fats Gonder gets the crowd amped before Brown hits the stage.
The first song is I’ll Go Crazy a smooth crooner jam, Brown’s voice is so controlled through this track having his famous scream hitting the right places, with the perfection of the backing vocals you wouldn’t even pick it as live, very smooth. This continues into the second song Try Me the vocals really creating the flow of this track, this is when you get the live recorded feel as the audio dips out for a bit, this only adding to the feel of the album.
The next two songs Night Train and There Was A Time build the crowd up to my personal James Brown fave, Cold Sweat. Everything about Cold Sweat is so right, with the funky bass line the drum stops and the trumpets wailing then Brown pulling it all together with his fierce personality and killer vocal power. More powerful now then ever!
James Browns personality was a huge part of his live shows and this shines through on the album, with the banter between the crowd and his band during songs a total front man of his time. This impromptu vibe continues through tracks Please Please Please and Sex Machine were Brown hollas at his band mates as they carry out impromptu jams and keep the groove flowing.
This chaotic party jam continues right through to the final song on the album There It Is a huge ender, with Brown referring to his band as the Jb’s. There It Is is filled with improv sections with keys and trumpets and call and response between Brown and his band. This track capture’s the essence of the meaning of funk, the good thing about Best Of Live At The Apollo is its a collection of Browns golden tracks, so even if you’re not that familiar with his works you will be after this.
One thing that disappoints is that there is only 11 songs excluding the intro and with a best of 50 anniversary a few more tracks could have been added as most of the sit under 3 minutes, you are left wanting more.
All in all Best Of Live At The Apollo: 50th Anniversary captures the true essence of Brown himself, just as any good Best Of album should do.