Daily Archives: April 27, 2009

102. James Brown – “Star Time Disk Two”

Our journey through the Brown box set continues…

When we left James he was busy editing down Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag. This album kicks off with the 2.08 min single version, which is hard to fault. Then into I Got You (I Feel Good). Can it get any better?

james-brown-startime-box-set-album-cover1Not for a little while… but it doesn’t drop off too much. Money Wont Change You shows how much the underlying music is now dominating relative to (ad-libbed) vocals. The “huh!!” is becoming more and more prevalent and the band is getting funkier every song…

As the vocals become less important, it can become harder to remember which tune is which. But each of these tracks is a dancefloor winner. The back-t0-back pairing of Cold Sweat and Get It Together is about the best 16 minutes of jamming you are likely to ever hear.

The pace and fun is relentless. This is even better than Disk 1 and James seems unstoppable. Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud stands as a testament to read the market and mood perfectly too. Give It Up or Turn It a Loose demonstrates that lyrics have almost passed their use-by date.

Just keep playing this CD til you can dance no more…

File under: Get down with your bad self

101. James Brown – “Star Time Disk One”

Oh, another reviewing protocol dilemma. This box set showcasing James Brown’s career could be reviewed as a single item, but it is effectively 4 distinct CDs, so I’m treating them as such…

I chased up this collection after reading about in a fantastic history of Funk book. It was heralded as the definitive collection from the Godfather of Soul.And it is pure gold.

james-brown-startime-box-set-album-coverThe box set is pretty much in chronological order, so you can see the evolution of Brown’s sound. Disk 1 encompasses the most substantial transformation. On the early tracks he is very much in the soul world, with sweet singing, do-wops and the like. The tunes could just as easily come from anyone across the Motown, Chess etc world.

It’s all cute and catchy, but it only gives a hint of the huge leap Brown was about to make. By I’ll Go Crazy, the beats and bass are starting to take over, and Brown’s vocals are taking on a more rhythmic role. Think sees us well and truly in the new world of funk. We start to hear basslines, horn riffs and the like that sound very, very familar. That’s because they would later become the most sampled sounds in hip-hop.

This is wonderful and captivating stuff. The CD closes out with a great 6:56 minute long 3-part version of Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag which was edited down to make his classic single. This version is better and even groovier.

Brown was a true icon and this CD starts to show us why.

File under: Get some funk in your trunk