104. James Brown – “Star Time Disk Four”

The last disc from the box set gets a spin.

I travelled north a few years (2004) back to see James Brown live at Byron Bay’s Bluesfest (As an aside, my missus was very surprised to see him on the bill. She thought he was dead!). We endured some seriously rib-impinging crowd crush up close to the stage in anticipation (as well as a pretty lame Max Merritt set).

james-brown-startime-box-set-album-coverIt was well worth the wait. At 70 years plus, he was still able to belt out some grunts and wiggle his hips. In the end, of course, much of his appeal lies in the groove laid down by his ever-growing band and choristers. I suspect he could have phoned in the vocals with out much complaint from the crowd.

To some extent that is what is going on with this final disc in the box set. JB is going through the motions on the majority of tracks. He also seems less confident in the material on occassions and more prone to imitation of new contenders.

This is most noticeable on Public Enemy #1, which sounds like an attempt to match Wonder, Hayes and Gaye. There is still some killer (e.g. the two versions of The Payback – the latter with Afrika Bambaataa), but it is clear the best was behind him.

I hate to end on a negative, so instead will leave you with a great dance lesson from Soul Brother Number One:

RIP James.

File under: I don’t know karate, but I do know ka-razy

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