James Brown




As the world's hippest musical icon, James Brown has only just begun to outlive and outshine Elvis and whomever else one may name. Time will prove, if it has not already, that our old neighbor from Augusta has been the single greatest influence on contemporary dance music. Of course he is also the venerated, dues-paying, quintessential, "real thing" soul singer the state of Georgia never could evict. Heunh!

James Brown & the Famous Flames recorded the classic soul sides on the King label, including the most famous, such as "Cold Sweat" and "I Got You." But his last years on King and early years on Polydor/People were even richer times. Funk was developed and essentially exhausted by Brown and his People. Dozens of classic LPs and singles still hold up beautifully against almost everything funky produced since.

For many of his hits, some of the many compilations will suffice. But the number of alternate takes, secondary "parts," rare single sides, guest appearances, and so on is staggering. With a compilation LP and the original 45, it is possible to mix multiple segments and versions of the same great track. Add all the productions of the James Brown family of related artists, and the Godfather of Soul's music becomes an idiom unto itself.

Buying: Nearly all late King (1968-1970, King #s 1030 & up) and Polydor/People LPs are essential. Smash and early King LPs are good for completists; singles and compilations suffice for others. Skip 1980s recordings. For real class, nothing beats a James Brown 78.



James Brown [Solo] LPs

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Rating
7Please Please Please; King 610; 1959/1956-58 (reissued w/different jacket as King 909; 1964)
7Try Me; King 635; 1959 (The Unbeatable James Brown; King 919; 1964)
7Think; King 683; 1960/1959-60 (reissued w/different jacket in 1964)
7The Amazing James Brown & the Famous Flames; King 743; 1961/1960-61
8Various: Twist Around; King 771; 1961 (James Brown, Hank Marr, the Wobblers, Herb Hardesty, Henry Moore, Clifford Scott; jacket: "James Brown Presents his Band featuring 'Night Train'"; reissued as Jump Around--same #)
7Shout & Shimmy; King 780; 1962/1957-61 (Good Good Twistin', Excitement--same #)
8James Brown & his Famous Flames Tour the U.S.A.; King 804; 1962
8At the Apollo; King 826; 1963 (live; several reissues)
7Prisoner of Love; King 851; 1963/1962 (3 cuts older, reissued)
7Mr. Dynamite; King 883; 1964 ("Pure Dynamite!"; rec. live at the Royal in Baltimore, except 2 w/overdubbed applause; originally gatefold)
6James Brown: Showtime; Mercury/Smash SRS-67054; 1964 ("live"--overdubbed applause)
6Grits & Soul; Mercury/Smash SRS-67057; 1964 (instrumental organ/piano, mod soul/soul jazz)
6Out of Sight; Mercury/Smash SRS-67109; 1964 (minus 1 cut as JB Sings Out of Sight; Mercury/Smash SRS-67109; 1968)
8Papa's Got a Brand New Bag; King 938; 1965 (reissue except title cuts)
6James Brown Plays James Brown Today & Yesterday; Mercury/Smash SRS-67072; 1965
8I Got You (I Feel Good); King 946; 1966 (reissues single 6015 & other single/LP tracks)
7Mighty Instrumentals; King 961; 1966/1960-65 (compilation; new to LP: "James Brown House Party" & "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag Part 2")
7James Brown Plays New Breed; Mercury/Smash SRS-67080; 1966/1965
7"Soul Brother #1" James Brown: It's a Man's Man's Man's World; King 985; 1966 (reissues single 6025 & other single/LP cuts except title song)
7James Brown & the Famous Flames: Christmas Album; King 1010; 1966 (jacket: James Brown & his Famous Flames Sing Christmas Songs)
6James Brown at the Organ: Handful of Soul; Mercury/Smash SRS-67084; 1966
6The James Brown Show; Mercury/Smash SRS-67087; 1967/1966 (live)
7James Brown Sings Raw Soul; King 1016; 1967/1964-67
7James Brown Plays the Real Thing; Mercury/Smash SRS-67093; 1967/1966
7At the Garden; King 1018; 1967 (live)
8Cold Sweat; King 1020; 1967/1964-67
7Live at the Apollo Vol. 2; King 1022; 1968/1967 (live; 2-LP/2-vol. version shares this number)
8I Can't Stand Myself When You Touch Me; King 1030; 1968/1967
8I Got the Feelin'; King 1031; 1968/1967-68
7James Brown & the Famous Flames: Nothing But Soul; King 1034; 1968/1967-68 (soul-jazz organ instrumental)
8Thinking About Little Willie John & a Few Nice Things; King 1038; 1968 (1/2 vocal tribute; 1/2 instrumental)
9Soulful Christmas; King 1040; 1968 (some great non-Xmas breakbeat/vibes instrumentals)
7Say it Loud--I'm Black & I'm Proud; King 1047; 1969/1967-68
7Gettin' Down to It; King 1051; 1969/1968-69 (w/Dee Felice Trio)
8James Brown Plays & Directs the Popcorn; King 1055; 1969/1968 ("JB Directs & Dances the Popcorn"; instrumental)
8It's a Mother; King 1063; 1969/1967-69
7Ain't It Funky Now; King 1092; 1969/1966-69 (mostly instrumental)
8Soul on Top; King KS-1100 (w/Louis Bellson Orchestra conducted by Oliver Nelson); 1970/1969
9It's a New Day So Let a Man Come In [& Do the Popcorn]; King 1095; 1970/1969
7Sex Machine; King 1115; 1970/1969-70 (2-LP; [pseudo-] live; Sex Machine Live; Polydor PD-2-9004; 1976)
7Hey America It's Christmas; King 1124; 1970 (see 45s for additional instrumentals)
8Super Bad; King 1127; 1971/1970 ([pseudo-] live; Vicki Anderson sings "Let it Be Me")
7Sho is Funky Down Here; King KS-1110; 1971/1968-70 (psyche-rock instrumentals, like early Hendrix, w/David Matthews Trio)
8Hot Pants; Polydor PD-4054; 1971 (Gema 2425-086)
8Live at the Apollo; Polydor 823-001-1 (2-LP reissue of King LPs)
6Revolution of the Mind (Live at the Apollo Vol. 3); Polydor PD-2-3003; 1972 (2-LP, live)
9Soul Classics; Polydor SC-5401; 1972 (compilation reissuing King)
8There It Is; Polydor PD-5028; 1972/1970-72
8Get on the Good Foot; Polydor PD-2-3004; 1972 (2-LP)
7Black Caesar ST; Polydor PD-6014; 1973
8Slaughter's Big Rip-Off ST; Polydor PD-6015; 1973
9Soul Classics Vol. 2; Polydor SC-5402; 1973 (compilation reissuing King)
9The Payback; Polydor PD-2-3007; 1974/1973 (2-LP)
8Hell; Polydor PD-2-9001; 1974/1973-74 (2-LP)
6Reality; Polydor PD-6039; 1975
7Sex Machine Today; Polydor PD-6042; 1975
7Everybody's Doin' the Hustle & Dead on the Double Bump; Polydor PD-6054; 1975
6Hot; Polydor PD-6059; 1976
5Get Up Offa That Thing; Polydor PD-1-6071; 1976
5Bodyheat; Polydor PD-6093; 1976
5Mutha's Nature; Polydor PD-6111; 1977
9Solid Gold (30 Golden Hits, 21 Golden Years); Polydor 2679-044; 1977 (2-LP compilation)
5Jam/1980's; Polydor PD-1-6140; 1978
5Take a Look at Those Cakes; Polydor PD-1-6191; 1979
The Original Disco Man; Polydor PD-1-6212; 1979
5Gravity; Scotti Bros.
5People; Polydor PD-6258; 1980
5Hot on the One; Polydor PD-2-6290; 1980 (2-LP, live in Tokyo)
6Soul Syndrome; T.K. 615; 1980
Non Stop; Polydor 2391.509; 1981
8The Best of; Polydor 422-823275-1; 1981 (compilation; probably all monaural despite stereo label)
8The James Brown Story--Ain't That a Groove 1966-1969; Polydor 422-821231-1; 1984/1966-69 (compilation; all monaural despite stereo label)
Doing it to Death; Polydor (compilation)
8The Fabulous James Brown; HRB DD-1004 (2-LP compilation)
9In the Jungle Groove; Polydor 829-624-1-Y-2; 1986/1969-70 (2-LP compilation--unreleased/remix/reissue)
8Motherlode; Polydor/PolyGram 837-126-1; 1988/1969-72 (compilation--unreleased/rarities)
8Santa's Got a Brand New Bag; Rhino R1-70194; 1988 (compilation from Christmas LPs & 45s)
8Star Time 4-CD Box; 1991 (overpackaged but comprehensive singles compilation w/book; best for several previously unreleased versions--undubbed, full-length, live, mono, stereo)


Partly James Brown LPs

Rating
7Various: Heavy Hits; Adam VIII A-8010; 1974 ("The Payback"--voiceover/announcement version--"This one is for Atlanta...")
8Various: Look Who's Surfing Now; King 882; 1964 (rare!; James Brown instrumental "Surfin' Along" otherwise unavailable!)
7Various: Rare Funk Vol. 5--Afro Funk; Cobalt COBLP-1008 ("Don't Tell It")
8Various: Soul Train--Hits that Made it Happen; Adam VIII ("Good Foot")
8Various: Superbad is Back; K-Tel


James Brown 7" 45s & EPs

Rating
7James Brown with the Flames: Please, Please, Please/Why Do You Do Me; Federal 12258; 1956 (same as the 78, which credits "the Famous Flames")
6James Brown & the Famous Flames: I Don't Know/I Feel that Old Feeling Coming On; Federal 12264; 1956
6James Brown & the Famous Flames: No, No, No, No/Hold My Baby's Hand; Federal 12277; 1956
6James Brown & the Famous Flames: Just Won't Do Right/Let's Make It; Federal 12289; 1956
7James Brown & the Famous Flames: Chonnie-on-Chon/I Won't Plead No More; Federal 12290; 1957
6James Brown & the Famous Flames: Can't Be the Same/Gonna Try; Federal 12292; 1957
7James Brown & the Famous Flames: Love or a Game/Messing with the Blues; Federal 12295; 1957
6James Brown & the Famous Flames: You're Mine, You're Mine/I Walked Alone; Federal 12300; 1957
6James Brown & the Famous Flames: That Dood It/Baby Cries Over the Ocean; Federal 12311; 1957
6James Brown & the Famous Flames: Begging, Begging/That's When I Lost My Heart; Federal 12316; 1958
8James Brown & the Famous Flames: Try Me/Tell Me What I Did Wrong; Federal 12337; 1958
6James Brown & the Famous Flames: I Want You So Bad/There Must be a Reason; Federal 12348; 1959
6James Brown & the Famous Flames: I've Got to Change/It Hurts to Tell You; Federal 12352; 1959
7James Brown & the Famous Flames: Good Good Lovin'/Don't Let it Happen to Me; Federal 12361; 1959
6James Brown & the Famous Flames: Got to Cry/It Was You; Federal 12364; 1959
7James Brown Presents his Band: Suds/Sticky; King 4585; 1961 (mod instrumentals)
8James Brown & the Famous Flames: Night Train/Why Does Everything Happen To Me; King 5614; 1962 (rec. 1961 & 1957)
James Brown Presents his Band: Feel It Parts 1 & 2; King 5767; 1963
9James Brown & the Famous Flames: Papa's Got a Brand New Bag Parts 1 & 2; King 5999; 1965
8I Got You (I Feel Good)/I Can't Help It (I Just Do-Do-Do); King 6015; 1965
7Ain't That a Groove Parts 1 & 2; King 6025; 1966
7It's a Man's Man's Man's World/Is It Yes Or Is It No?; King 6035; 1966
6Mashed Potatoes-"66"/same; King [11221]; 1966 (vocal)
7Don't Be a Drop-Out/Tell Me That You Love Me; King 6056; 1966 (live B side)
6James Brown & the Famous Flames: The Christmas Song Versions 1 & 2; King 6064; 1966 (ballad)
7Let's Make This Christmas Mean Something Parts 1 & 2; King 6072; 1966
7Kansas City/Stone Fox; King 6086
9Cold Sweat Parts 1 & 2; King 6110; 1967
7Funky Soul #1/The Soul of J.B.; King 6133; 1967
9I Can't Stand Myself (When You Touch Me)/There Was a Time; King 6144; 1967
8James Brown & the Famous Flames: I Got the Feelin'/If I Ruled the World; King 6155; 1968
7Shhhhhhhh (for a Little While)/Here I Go; King 6164; 1968 (instrumental soul jazz)
9Licking Stick--Licking Stick Parts 1 & 2; King 6166; 1968
7Shades of Brown/Goodbye My Love; King 6198; 1968
8Tit for Tat (Ain't No Taking Back)/Believers Shall Enjoy (Non-Believers Shall Suffer); King 6204; 1968
8In the Middle (Part 1)/Let's Unite the Whole World at Christmas; King 6205; 1968 (A-side funk instrumental, both from LP 1040)
7A Man Has to Go Back to the Crossroads/The Drunk; Bethlehem 3098; 1970
8Funky Drummer Parts 1 & 2; King 6209; 1970/1969
8Give It Up or Turnit-A-Loose/I'll Lose My Mind; King 6213; 1970 (both vocal)
9The Popcorn/"The Chicken"; King 6240; 1970
8Lowdown Popcorn/Top of the Stack; King 6250; 1970/1969
8Let a Man Come in & Do the Popcorn Part 1/Sometime; King 6245; 1970
8Let a Man Come in & Do the Popcorn Part 2/Gittin' a Little Hipper Part 2; King 6275; 1970
6It's Christmas Time Parts 1 & 2; King 6277; 1970 (ballad)
8Brother Rapp Parts 1 & 2/Bewildered; King 6310; 1970/1969
9Get Up [I Feel Like Being a] Sex Machine Parts 1 & 2; King 6318; 1970
9Super Bad Parts 1-3; King 6329; 1970
8Hey America [It's Christmas]/instrumental; King 6339; 1970 (picture sleeve w/lyrics)
6Santa Claus is Definitely Here to Stay/instrumental; King 6340; 1970 (picture sleeve w/lyrics)
9Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved Parts 1 & 2; King 6347 (vocal duet w/Bobby Byrd); 1970
9Soul Power Parts 1-3; King 6368; 1971
8Hot Pants Parts 1-3; People 2501; 1971
Talkin' Loud & Sayin' Nothing Parts 1 & 2; Polydor (rock version) 1972/1970 (withdrawn; vocal duet w/Bobby Byrd)
8Talkin' Loud & Sayin' Nothing Parts 1 & 2; Polydor PD-14109; 1972/1970 (vocal duet w/Bobby Byrd)
7Honky Tonk Parts 1 & 2; Polydor PD-14129; 1972 ("live")
8Public Enemy #1 Part 1/I Got a Bag of My Own; Polydor PD-14153; 1972
8I Got Ants in My Pants [and I Want to Dance] Parts 1 & 15-16; Polydor PD-14162; 1972
8Think ['73]/Something; Polydor PD-14185; 1973 (non-LP & heavy!)
7Stone to the Bone Parts 1/Stone to the Bone (Some More); Polydor PD-14210; 1973
6Hustle!!!/Dead on It Parts 1 & 2; Polydor PD-14210; 1975
8Funky President (mono)/Coldblooded; Polydor PD-14258; 1974
6Get Up Offa That Thing/Release the Pressure (Get Up Offa That Thing Part 2); Polydor PD-14326; 1976
7The Spank/Love Me Tender; Polydor PD-14487; 1978 (B-side tribute to Elvis)
3Star Generation/same; Polydor PD-2005; 1979 (promo)
7Rapp Payback (Where iz Moses) Parts 1 & 2; T.K. TKX-1039; 1980 (disco; about six minutes shorter than the LP version)
6Give That Bass Player Some Parts 1 & 2; Polydor PD-2167; 1981
6Devo: Theme from Dr. Detroit/James Brown: King of Soul; MCA/Backstreet BSR-52215; 1983 (good disco B-side alternative to the full LP ST)
5Living in America/same; Scotti Brothers ZS4-05682; 1985 (picture sleeve, promo for Rocky IV ST)
8Ain't it Funky Now Part 1/Funky Drummer Part 1; Collectables COL-4415; 1992 (reissue)


James Brown 78s

Rating
7James Brown with the Famous Flames: Please, Please, Please/Why Do You Do Me; Federal 12258; 1956 (same as the 45, which credits "the Flames")


James Brown 12" EPs

Rating
9James Brown; Urban URBA 13 (She's the One-funky drummer remix, Funky President, Funky Drummer-edit, Funky Drummer-bonus beat reprise)
7James Brown: The Payback Mix...; Urban URBX-17; 1988 (2 remixes, 2 reissues)


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