Tuesday, 2 March 2010

"The Singles Volume 8: 1972-1973" by JAMES BROWN [feat Fred Wesley, The JB's and Lyn Collins] (2009 USA Hip-O Select 2CD Set (2010 UK Issue) - Seth Foster Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…I'm Gonna Have To Get In Deep…" 

I've been diligently collecting this series of 2CD sets since they started in 2006, but this 8th instalment has me literally chomping at the review-bit, because if you ever required categorical proof of the Godlike genius of James Brown and his fantastically funky backing band The JB's - then this beautifully presented compilation is it. Genuinely - I've not been in awe of a reissue like this for a very long time indeed. 

But to the details first... All tracks are credited to JAMES BROWN except where noted and the pairing of numbers below are the A & B-sides of US 7" singles. 

Released 21 December 2009 in the USA (November 2009 from Hip-O's own site), but delayed to 1 March 2010 in the UK - "The Singles Volume 8: 1972-1973" by JAMES BROWN on Hip-O Select/Polydor B0013349-02 (Barcode 602527163338) is a 2CD set of Remasters that breaks down as follows...

Disc 1 (69:07 minutes):
1 and 2 are Nothing Beats A Try But A Fail and Hot Pants Road (Vocal)
- Polydor PD-14110 scheduled for release January 1972 but withdrawn
3 and 4 are King Heroin and Theme From King Heroin - Polydor PD-14116, released February 1972
5 is Pass The Peas by THE J.B.’s - People PE-607, A-side only, released April 1972 [B-side is a non JB track, therefore not included]
6 and 7 are There Is It Part 1 and There Is It Part 2 - Polydor PD-14125, released April 1972
8 and 9 are Honky Tonk - Part 1 and Honky Tonk - Part 2 by JAMES BROWN and THE SOUL TRAIN - Polydor PD-14129, released May 1972
10 and 11 are Giving Up Food For Funk Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 by THE J.B.’s - People PE-610, released July 1972 [credited to "The JB's"]
12 and 13 are Get On The Good Foot Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 - Polydor PD-14139, released July 1972 
14 and 15 are I Got A Bag Of My Own and Public Enemy #1 - Polydor PD-14153, released October 1972 
16 is I Know It's True - Polydor 2066-285, the British B-side to 14, released October 1972
17 and 18 are I Got Ants In My Pants - Pt. 1 Mono Version      and Pt. 15 & 16 Mono Version - Polydor PD-14162-DJ, Promo-Only MONO Versions, released December 1972
19 and 20 are I Got Ants In My Pants - Pt. 1 Reverb Version and Pt. 15 & 16 Reverb Version - Polydor PD-14162, Stock Copy REVERB Versions, released December 1972

Disc 2 (75:03 minutes):
1 and 2 are What My Baby Needs Now Is A Little More Lovin’ and This Guy - This Girl's In Love With You by JAMES BROWN and LYN COLLINS - Polydor PD 14157, released December 1972
3 is Watermelon Man by FRED WESLEY & THE JB’S - People PE-612, released December 1972
4 and 5 are Down And Out In New York City and Mama's Dead - Polydor PD-14168, released February 1973 
6 and 7 are The Sportin' Life and Dirty Harri       By FRED WESLEY & THE JB’S - People PE-619, released February 1973
8 and 9 are The Boss and Like It Is, Like It Was - it was to be Polydor PD-14169, but the release was cancelled
10 and 11 are Doing It To Death and Everybody Got Soul by FRED WESLEY & THE JB’S - People PE-621, released March 1973
12 and 13 are Think Version 1 and Something - Polydor PD-14177, released April 1973
14  is Think Version 2 - a reissue of 12 (Version 1) on Polydor PD-14185, released June 1973
15 and 16 are Woman Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 - it was to be Polydor PD-14193, but the US release was cancelled. However, they were issued in the UK on Polydor 2066-370 in August 1973
17 and 18 are If You Don't Get It The Fist Time (Back Up And Try Again) and You Can Have Watergate, But Gimme Money And I'll Be Straight by FRED WESLEY & THE JB’S - People PE-627, released August 1973
19 and 20 are Sexy Sexy Sexy and Slaughter Theme - Polydor PD-14194, released August 1973

The 28-page booklet by noted JB expert and former tour manager ALAN LEEDS is a joy to look at, a hugely informative read and is packed to the gills with track histories and recording session details. The first generation master tapes for the single mixes have been transferred by SETH FOSTER and a typically superlative job done - warm, clear and fabulously detailed. And "Limited Edition" is embossed in gold lettering on the rear inlay (it's 6,500 copies worldwide). 

Disc 1 opens (uncharacteristically) with a ballad "Nothing Beats A Try But A Fail" (the withdrawn single) and it's shockingly lovely - followed of course by more familiar territory - the kicking vocal version of "Hot Pants Road". The 3 socially conscious songs dotted across the 2 discs are musically and lyrically sensational - and (unfortunately) still relevant to this day - they are "King Heroin", "Public Enemy No.1" and "Down & Out In New York City".  The utterly irresistible beat of "Doing It To Death" (lyrics above) compliments Disc 2 while the almost Crusaders smooth funk instrumental "Sportin' Life" from " Black Caesar" is just sooo cool!

Downsides - when the songs get into a great groove, you do wish they went on longer, but of course it's the nature of the edited single to cut them short. There is also the B-sides that are 'missing' because there's no JB involvement in them - their presence would have been better for those who want the complete picture, but these are minor niggles. 

When you think of the mind-blowing excellence of the albums "There It Is", "Get On The Good Foot" (a 1972 double) and "Black Caesar" (a 1973 single soundtrack) with both the doubles of "Hell" and "The Payback" coming in late 1973 and mid 1974 - it was an absolutely extraordinary time for James Brown and everyone around him. 

If you want to know why he got the title "The Godfather of Soul" in the first place - and especially why funk fans dig him so much - then buy this superbly featured reissue. The only problem is that you'll want all the previous numbers too. 

Genius baby - it really is. And what a loss to music... 

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