Saturday, 4 October 2014

Art of the Cover - James Brown's "Live at the Apollo" (1963)

A gorgeous cover adorns this mighty live album by James Brown and the Famous Flames (Bobby Byrd, Bobby Bennett, and Lloyd Stallworth), recorded at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and released in 1963.

This seminal live album was recorded on the night of October 24, 1962.

"Live at the Apollo" was reissued in a Deluxe Edition in 2004 - featuring remastered sound and four bonus mono single mixes along with updated notes and packaging.

In 2003, the album was ranked number 25 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

They say if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. The Apollo was notorious for its tough audience, but in the case of James Brown, it was more like a command performance. James came north with a whole mess of down-home soul and he laid it all out, holding back nothing. This is still a very young James, even though he'd been recording for over a decade. It is this type of performance that froze a great front man like Mick Jagger (offstage during the taping of the T.A.M.I. show). 
The live audience shrieked with rapture throughout! This is the greatest live album ever. And it almost wasn't: Syd Nathan at King Records would not reach in his pocket to produce the live album. So James Brown did it himself. This album reached #2 on the U.S. pop chart... something that just was not done by a Black artist in those days. Black radio stations of the day would play the album like a two-sided single, playing all of side one, taking a commercial break, and coming right back with all of side two. How could you break up something so great? This is where James Brown was coming from, and it fostered a self-determination in Brown that led to him signing with Smash records and, eventually, winning artistic freedom and control from King Records. 

1. Introduction To James Brown
2. I'll Go Crazy
3. Try Me
4. Think
5. I Don't Mind
6. Lost Someone
7. Medley: Please, Please, Please/You've Got The Power/I Found Someone/Why Do You Do Me/I Want You So Bad/I Love You So Bad/I Love You, Yes I Do/Strange Things Happen/Bewildered/Please, Please, Please
8. Night Train
2004 Deluxe Edition bonus tracks
9. Think
10. Medley: I Found Someone/Why Do You Do Me/I Want You So Bad
11. Lost Someone
12. I'll Go Crazy

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