Tuesday, 5 October 2010

"The Singles Volume 9: 1973-1975" by JAMES BROWN [feat Fred Wesley, The JB's and Lyn Collins] (2010 Hip-O Select 2CD - Seth Foster Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…I've Got A Mighty Good Thing…I Ain't Gonna Give It Up…"

I've been diligently collecting this series of 2CD sets since they started in 2006 and this 9th installment is the fourth 2CD set to cover his extraordinary 'Seventies' output (Volumes 6, 7 and 8 feature 1970 to 1973) - and if you ever required categorical proof of the Godlike genius of James Brown and his fantastically funky backing band The JB's - then these beautifully presented compilations are it. 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 September 2010 in the USA (July 2010 from Hip-O's own site) but delayed to 4 October 2010 in the UK - "The Singles Volume 9: 1973-1975" by JAMES BROWN on Hip-O Select/Polydor B0014259-02 (Barcode 602527380209) is a 2CD Set of Remasters and breaks down as follows...

Disc 1 (74:55 minutes):
1. Let It Be Me
2. It's All Right (1 and 2 are Polydor PD 14199, scheduled for release late 1973 but withdrawn)
3. You Can't Beat Two People In Love (Part 1)
4. You Can't Beat Two People In Love (Part 2) (3 and 4 are People PE 629, scheduled for release late 1973 but withdrawn - credited to JAMES BROWN and LYN COLLINS. 3 was finally released as 'Part 2' of People PE 630 in October 1973 - the 'B-side' to "We Want To Parrty, Parrty, Parrty - Part 1" - credited to LYN COLLINS (THE FEMALE PREACHER)
5. I Got A Good Thing (And I Ain't Gonna Let It Go) - Part 1
6. I Got A Good Thing (And I Ain't Gonna Let It Go) - Part 2 (5 and 6 are Polydor PD 14206, scheduled for release late 1973 but withdrawn. 5 and 6 are an early version of "Stoned To The Bone" - see 7 and 8)
7. Stoned To The Bone - Part 1
8. Stoned To The Bone (Some More) (7 and 8 are Polydor PD 14210, released November 1973. The UK and European counterparts of the B-side on Polydor 2066 400 use versions that are about a minute shorter - 8 here is the full US version. Also some US copies titled it "Stone To The Bone" rather than "Stoned To The Bone...")
9. Same Beat - Part 1
10. Same Beat - Part 2 & 3 (9 and 10 are People PE 632, released January 1974 and credited to FRED WESLEY & THE J.B.'S. 9 samples parts of Jesse Jackson's famous "I Am Somebody" speech)
11. The Payback - Part 1
12. The Payback - Part II (11 and 12 are Polydor PD 14223, released February 1974 - 11 and 12 are the stock copy 'with' the vocals of New York DJ, Hank Spann)
13. The Payback - Part I (DJ promo version)    
14. The Payback - Part II (DJ promo version) (13 and 14 are Polydor PD 14223-DJRE, released March 1974 - 13 and 14 are the demo copies 'without' the Hank Spann vocal)
15. Damn Right I Am Somebody - Part I
16. Damn Right I Am Somebody (Last Part That Went Over The Fence) (15 and 16 are People PE 638, released May 1974 - credited to FRED WESLEY & THE J.B.'S)
17. My Thang
18. People Get Up And Drive Your Funky Soul (17 and 18 are Polydor PD 14244, released June 1974. The B-side to 17 was "Public Enemy, Number 1" is the USA which is on Volume 8, however, Polydor 2066-484 released July 1974 in Italy and Germany had 18 as its B-side - which is what is included here)
19. Rock Me Again & Again & Again & Again & Again & Again (6 Times) (19 is the stock copy issue of People PE 641, released June 1974 - known as the 'short version' at 2:32 minutes)
20. Rock Me Again & Again & Again & Again & Again & Again (6 Times) (20 is the DJ promo issue on People PE 641-DJ, released July 1974 - it has an extra minute of playing time)

Disc 2 (70:46 minutes):
1. Control (People Go Where We Send You Part I)
2. Control (People Go Where We Send You Part II) (1 and 2 are Polydor PD 14250, released July 1974 credited to THE FIRST FAMILY (The Godfather-J.B.'s-Lyn Collins-Lee Austin-Maceo))
3. Papa Don't Take No Mess Part I
4. Papa Don't Take No Mess Part II (3 and 4 are Polydor PD 14255, released August 1974)
5. Funky President (People It's Bad)
6. Coldblooded (5 and 6 are Polydor PD 14258, released October 1974)
7. Reality
8. I Need Your Love So Bad (7 and 8 are Polydor PD 14268, released February 1975)
9. Sex Machine Part I
10. Sex Machine Part II (9 and 10 are Polydor PD 14270, released April 1975)
11. Thank You For Lettin' Me Be Myself, And You Be Yours (Part I)
12. Thank You For Lettin' Me Be Myself, And You Be Yours (Part II) (11 and 12 are Polydor PD 14273, scheduled for release summer 1975 but withdrawn - credited as by JAMES BROWN & The J.B.'s. It was then scheduled for release as People PE 654 for autumn 1975 but also withdrawn [credited as by FRED & THE NEW J.B.'S]. Both Part 1 and 2 were finally issued as People PE 660 in October 1975. Also - 11-only (Part 1) was released on People PE 663 in January1976 [credited as by THE J.B.'S] as the B-side to "All Aboard The Soul Funky Train")
13. Dead On It-Part I
14. Dead On It-Part II (13 and 14 are Polydor PD 14279, scheduled for May 1975 release but withdrawn; eventually released as Polydor PD 14281 in June 1975)
15. Hustle!!! (Dead On It) (15 is Polydor PD 14281, A-side, released June 1975)

Like Volume 8, the 28-page booklet by noted JB expert and former tour manager ALAN LEEDS and is a joy to look at - a hugely informative read that's packed to the gills with track histories, concert posters, trade adverts, magazine covers and a thoroughly detailed recording Sessionography. The inlay beneath the see-through CD tray has an advert for "The Payback", there's varying memorabilia on display in the booklet from long-time collector Mathieu Bitton - it's exceptionally well done...

And again, as in previous issues, the first-generation master tapes for the single mixes have been transferred by SETH FOSTER - and he's done a truly superlative job - warm, clear and fabulously alive. There is hiss on some cuts like "Dead On It", but mostly the music jumps out of the speakers at you - gorgeous sound. The word "Limited Edition" is embossed in gold lettering on the rear inlay (it's a limited edition of 5000 copies worldwide).

Disc 1 opens with an ill-advised cover of The Everly Brothers "Let It Be Me" done in a truly-awful Salsa style; it's marginally rescued by its B-side - an easy-soul cover of The Impressions song "It's All Right" (written by Curtis Mayfield). Although credited only to Lyn Collins, "You Can't Beat Two People In Love" is a duet with JB and is superb. Then comes a genuine thrill - "I Got A Good Thing (And I Ain't Gonna Let It Go)" was the withdrawn precursor to "Stoned To The Bone" with similar words but a more slowed down funky backbeat. JB's decision to go with the released version was right. Still, it's fascinating to hear this early version (lyrics above) and there's even a rare Test Pressing of it pictured on Page 5. A clever inclusion is the DJ Promo versions of "The Payback" because it removes the overdub of DJ Hank Spann that's on the stock copies. And the fantastic "Same Beat - Part 1" samples Jesse Jackson's famous "I Am Somebody" poem which he aired on the US TV program "Sesame Street" 2 years earlier to inspire young blacks.  "My Thang" is superlative funk with Brown's ridiculously tight band giving it their all. I also love the Lyn Collins tracks - such great vocals and feel...

Although there's good tracks on Disc 2 ("Control" and "Funky President"), there's a lot on here that aren't - half-baked ideas reaching for funky Nirvana and not getting there. On the plus side is Part 2 of "Papa Don't Take No Mess..." - a largely piano-driven funk B-side that for me is worth the price of admission alone - it's fantastic. There's also a surprisingly tender cover version of Little Willie John's "I Need Your Love So Bad". But the remake of "Sex Machine" is unnecessary - and both "Thank You..." and "Dead On It" fail to spark anything. By the time you get to the 'appealing to the disco audience' crud of "Hustle..." you know JB was running on empty... 

Niggles - there were 4 other JB 45s in 1975 on Polydor, yet they're not on here despite they're being plenty of playing time left over on both CDs - no doubt being lined up for Volume 10. And while it's the nature of singles to cut down the playing time to suit radio airplay, I prefer the extended album versions on "Hell" and "The Payback".

To sum up - I'd admit that after the sheer blasting brilliance of Volumes 7 and 8, Volume 9 comes as a slight disappointment (especially on Disc 2). But if you really 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 and concentrate only on the good stuff. It's so worth it. The only problem is that once acquired - you'll want all the previous numbers too.

A genius baby - he really was. And what a loss to music...

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