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Issue 1084

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Review

JAMES BROWN: The Singles Volume Two: 1960-1963

James Brown

10

6.1

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UK release date 21.05.2007

Mention the name James Brown and the words ‘legend’ and ‘icon’ immediately spring to mind. But back in the late 1950s, Brown’s place in history was far from assured - in fact, with commercial success proving elusive, his career was in the balance.

Only a whisker away from being dropped by his record label, he came up with ‘Try Me,’ a chart topper in 1958 that kick-started his sluggish career and laid the foundations for future greatness. In 1960, Brown switched from Federal to its parent company, King, and began receiving the promotion that helped catapult him to fame.

This, the second volume in a series that intends to chronicle the Godfather’s singles career, focuses on his first three years at King in the early ‘60s. Vacillating between gutbucket proto-soul ballads, stomping R&B instrumentals and jaunty rock and roll excursions, the singles Brown produced at that time find him juggling different musical elements in search of his own identity. Ultimately, all those styles would coalesce to form soul and later, funk. Amongst the highlights of this 40-track collection is his indelible version of the Perry Como ballad, ‘Bewildered,’ plus ‘Night Train’ and ‘Prisoner Of Love,’ all early classics from this criminally underappreciated phase in Mr. Dynamite’s career.

There are plenty of rarities, too, like the fabulous ‘Choo-Choo,’ a pounding flipside instrumental dominated by organ, horns and twanging Duane Eddy-style guitars. Informative liner notes from Alan Leeds and Cliff White complete a fantastic archival package.

(This CD is available now from internet outlets like www.dustygroove.com and www.soulmusic.com).
Words Charles Waring

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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