Monday, October 8, 2012

#79: James Brown - Live at the Apollo (1963)

He's the hardest working man in show business. He's a legend. Unfortunately, the only thing I really know about him comes from Eddie Murphy's 'James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub Party'. I mean, sure, I've seen clips of him here and there, but really it all boils down to, "Should I get in the hot tub? Will it make me sweat? Should I get in the hot tub? Will it make me wet? Well... Well... Well..."

I'll Go Crazy
What impresses me about this track is that it doesn't sound like old school rock and roll or really anything that's been heard up to this point (especially live). The bass is just a walking line and the drums are out of the way, but vocals are just all over the place. Brown's vocals contain jazz, blues, gospel, and rock and roll. There's a lot more hits in the horns which opens up the music really well.

Lost Someone
This is what I think a James Brown intro embodies. Brown sings something very soulful followed by some stabs on the horns and then wash, rinse, and repeat. The man may have the ability to dance, to entertain audiences, and put on a show - but the man can do one thing better than all of those and that's sing. I can't see the show he's putting on while I listen to this record, but I can sure hear the audience go crazy and hear the sounds he's producing. He's got one of the truly best male voices I've ever heard. He's got range, he's got power, he's got a truck ton of soul, and he does it all so fluidly. It may be a 10+ minute song, but it's thoroughly entertaining from start to finish.

Please, Please, Please
What's incredible about this track is when the track breaks down, there's a little bass, a little drums, and a bit of plucking guitar and it sounds really early 50's. Browns voice, though, rings through so true and so clear. He's in a different era for this moment in the concert. Granted, it changes back to soul and there's a gospel organ and other elements reintroduced, but for that moment in the song it stuns you. James Brown could be planted in any genre or time period and be a star.

All in all, I really enjoyed it. It makes sense why James Brown is still known to young people today. It's unfortunate that he's not better known, but the man is an entertainer and I'm jealous towards anyone who had the chance to see him live.

Tomorrow's album: Regina Spektor's 11:11.

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