ARTIST: James Brown
TITLE: Live at the Apollo
YEAR RELEASED: 1963
CHART ACTION: #2
SINGLES: Think, Lost Someone (#94), I’ll Go Crazy (#73, #28 R&B)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Any James Brown fan knows this stuff.
LINEUP: James Brown, Bobby Byrd, Bobby Bennett, Lloyd Stallworth, Lewis Hamlin, Hubert Perry, Clayton Fillyau, Les Buie, Fats Gonder, Clifford MacMillan, St. Clair Pinckney, Brisco Clark, William Burgess, Dicke Wells, Roscoe Patrick, Teddy Washington
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: THE trailblazing live set, and set a bar for live records that many bands still can’t reach today.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Thankfully, the master tapes of this concert recording were found, because it would be a shame if we couldn’t hear this record as pristine and clear as possible. And my goodness, this isn’t just a muddy tape from the soundboard.
Raving about the sound is great, but the performance by Brown, the Famous Flames and his band? Smokin’ smokin’ smokin’. Les Buie on guitar and Hubert Perry on bass set everything up, Clayton Fillau’s drums are on point, and Fats Gonder on organ (and MC duties) adds the perfect support and fills. The horns? Fantastic. The Flames on backing vocals? Tight.
Then there’s James Brown. You can sense him working the crowd, leading the band, interacting, dancing, modulating to the bridge, everything. The screams from the crowd prove it. He’s giving the performance of his life, and this recording catapulted him to his rightful place in the music pantheon.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Believe it or not, Brown had to pay for the recording himself, since his record company boss Syd Nathan didn’t think live albums of old material would sell. Welp…
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, just the mixes used to release the singles.
GRADE: A+: Believe the hype – both about this record AND James Brown’s performance skills.