Sunday, 5 February 2017

"The Singles Volume 1: The Federal Years 1956-1960" by JAMES BROWN (September 2006 Hip-O Select/Polydor 2CD Set - Suha Gur Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...


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"…Please, Please, Please…" 

A million miles removed from his Sixties Soul and Seventies Funk - this gorgeously produced and presented 2CD set concentrates on the beginning - James Brown And His Famous Flames as a Rhythm 'n' Blues belter (his first 19 singles). Here are the drop-to-your-knees details...

US released 26 September 2006 - "The Singles Volume 1: The Federal Years 1956-1960" by JAMES BROWN is the first of 11 Volumes of double-CDs covering his entire singles output between 1956 and 1981. Hip-O Select/Polydor B0007029-02 (Barcode 602517000575) breaks down as follows (all entries are American singles unless otherwise stated):

Disc 1, 21 tracks, 53:41 minutes:
1. Please, Please, Please
2. Why Do You Do Me (tracks 1 and 2 are the A&B-sides of his debut 7" single on Federal 12258 released March 1956 - a USA R&B No.5)
3.I Don't Know
4. I Feel That Old Feeling Coming On (tracks 3 and 4 are the A&B-sides of Federal 11264 released June 1956)
5. No, No, No, No
6. Hold My Baby's Hand (tracks 5 and 6 are the A&B-sides of Federal 12277 released July 1956)
7. I Won't Plead No More
8. Chonnie-On-Chon (tracks 7 and 8 are the A&B-sides of Federal 12290 released October 1956)
9. Just Won't Do Right
10. Let's Make It (tracks 9 and 10 are the A&B-sides of Federal 12289 released January 1957)
11. Gonna Try
12. Can't Be The Same (tracks 11 and 12 are the A&B-sides of Federal 12292 released March 1957)
13. Message With The Blues
14. Love Or A Game (tracks 13 and 14 are the A&B-sides of Federal 12295 released May 1957)
15. You're Mine, You're Mine
16. I Walked Alone (tracks 15 and 16 are the A&B-sides of Federal 12300 released July 1957)
17. That Dood It
18. Baby Cries Over The Ocean (tracks 17 and 18 are the A&B-sides of Federal 12311 released November 1957)
19. Begging, Begging
20. That's When I Lost My Heart (tracks 19 and 20 are the A&B-sides of Federal 12316 released February 1958
21. Try Me (Demo Version)
[Notes: 1 to 12 credited to JAMES BROWN With The Famous Flames
13 and 14 credited to JAMES BROWN
Remainder credited to JAMES BROWN And The Famous Flames]

Disc 2, 20 Tracks, 51:51 minutes:
1. Try Me (I Need You)
2. Tell Me What I Did Wrong (tracks 1 and 2 are the A&B-sides of Federal 12337 released October 1958 - a USA R'&B No.1)
3. I Want You So Bad
4. There Must Be A Reason (tracks 3 and 4 are the A&B-sides of Federal 12348 released February 1959 - A USA R&B No.20)
5. I've Got To Change [Mono Version]
6. It Hurts To Tell You [Mono Version] (tracks 5 and 6 are the A&B-sides of Federal 12352 released April 1959)
7. I've Got To Change [Stereo Version]
8. It Hurts Me To Tell You [Stereo Version] (tracks 7 and 8 are the A&B-sides of Federal S-12352 released May 1959)
9. Double Bee
10. Bucket Head (tracks 9 and 10 are the A&B-sides of Federal 12360 released July 1959)
11. It Was You
12. Got To Cry (tracks 11 and 12 are the A&B-sides of Federal 12364 released August 1959)
13. Good Good Lovin'
14. Don't Let It Happen To Me (tracks 13 and 14 are A&B-sides of Federal 12361 released October 1959)
15. I'll Go Crazy
16. I Know It's True (tracks 15 and 16 are the A&B-sides on Federal 12369 released January 1960 - A USA R&B No. 15)
17. Think
18. You've Got The Power (tracks 17 and 18 are the A&B-sides of Federal 12370 released April 1960 - a USA R&B No. 7 - B-side No. 14 R&B)
19. This Old Heart
20. Wonder When You're Coming Home (tracks 19 and 20 are the A&B-sides of Federal 12378 released August 1960 - A USA R&B No. 20)
[Notes: all tracks are Mono except where stated, all tracks James Brown And The Famous Flames except "You've Got The Power" which is James Brown And The Famous Flames - Duet Vocals with Bea Ford]

The 28-page sepia-feel booklet is gorgeous - jam-packed with detail by fan/world authority and keeper of the famous flame - ALAN LEEDS. You get song-by-song histories, cool trade adverts and Federal singles pepper the text and there's a detailed Sessionography on the last pages. HAREY WEINGER and PAT LAWRENCE produced while SUHA GUR did the superlative remasters from original Mono Single mixes (except "Bucket Head" restored from 45). The audio is fantastic and I've sung this Engineer's skills before (Howard Tate, Eddie Kendricks, Grace Jones, Joe Cocker, Kool & The Gang, John Mayall, Cat Stevens, Cream - the Suha Gur list is long).

However - despite opening strongly with "Please, Please, Please" and its equally tasty B-side - you couldn't describe much of Disc 1 as 'classic' - it fact its plodding in places and downright uninspired in others. And outside of "Please, Please, Please", "Try Me (I Need You)" and "Think" - it's all too easy to see why much of it didn't chart or elicit interest from DJs. That's not to say there aren't gems in here like the groovy dancer "Tell Me What I Did Wrong" where Brown finally finds something of that legendary mojo. The STEREO VERSION of the "It Hurts To Tell You" single is an amazing entry - quite extraordinary sound and a genuine rarity. The "Try Me (Demo Version)" is dubbed off a 78" Acetate and sounds awful - a historical curio tagged onto the first 10 singles of his career on Disc 1. The largely instrumental "Bucket Head" is fun as is the boppin' "Good Good Lovin'" - one of his underground classics and a tune that should have charted. The pleader "I'll Go Crazy" is typical of his "if you leave me" type songs and I dig the Bluesy duet with Bea Ford on "You Got The Power" (the B-side to "Think"). Another cool tune is "You're Mine, You're Mine". The whole compilation is good rather than being great - but there is that audio and presentation...

Born in 1933 - passed in 2006 - James Brown changed the world of music forever - and so much for the better. The Godfather would hit his Soul stride with the arrival of the Swinging Sixties - but this is where that unbelievable career started to cook...

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