I must admit that I seriously underrated this album for years. I bought it a long time ago, probably around 1976, when I found it in a cutout bin. I was unimpressed with the cheap packaging but figured, “Hey, it’s live James Brown, it must be good.”
I think it was the first James Brown album I ever bought. However, I remember feeling disappointed when I played it for the first time. The album seemed to be a cheaply produced as the packaging. The album utilized the exact same emcee introduction on side one and side three, a sign of cheapness that I considered almost unforgiveable at the time. I was also suspicious about whether or not it even really was a live album (and I was right about that part). After a while, I relegated the album to my basement, a place where all albums go that I don’t particularly care for.
Cut to some time around 1990. I’m reading a copy of Spin magazine’s ‘Top 25 Albums of All Time” list, and what album do you think they listed at #1? Yup, this one. I thought (and still do think) that Spin Magazine is insane, but they did get me to give this album another listen, and after ignoring it for nearly fifteen years, I suddenly realized that my initial instincts for purchasing the album in the first place were spot on. It’s James Brown – LIVE! How bad can it be? Actually, it’s great to let James be his bad self, and his performance here is fairly incredible, and the bands (turns out there are different musicians on the two record halves) are great too. Yes, it’s cheap, and yes, it’s deceitful, but taken as a whole, it’s one of the best albums James Brown released at the height of his funkiness. How bad can it be?
Featured tracks include:
Get Up, I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine
Brother Rapp, Parts 1 and 2
Medley: Bewildered/I Got the Feeling/Give It Up or Turn It Loose
September Song (from “Soul on Top”)
September 1970 - Billboard Charted #29
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