Tuesday, 22 May 2012

“The Singles Volume 11: 1979-1981” by JAMES BROWN (2011 Hip-O Select 2CD Set Of Seth Foster Remasters - Volume Eleven) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…It's Too Funky in Here…Gimme Some Air!"  

Having diligently collected all 10 Volumes in this truly incredible series of American CDs (I've reviewed 8, 9 and 10) - I baulked at Volume 11 because of the dates. Bit of a mistake that!

Why? What Volume Eleven's subtitle '1979 to 1981' doesn't tell you is that on Disc 2 there is a far wider range of dates and therefore better stuff - namely the rare and hugely desirable American 12" Promo singles from 1976 to 1981. And in my book that puts this otherwise workmanlike compilation into an altogether different stratosphere. But let's get to the details first...

UK released November 2011 (Oct 2011 USA) - "The Singles Volume 11: 1979-1981" by JAMES BROWN on Hip-O Select B0016037-02 (Barcode 602527814100) is a 2CD set of Remasters and breaks down as follows:
(Release dates and catalogue numbers below are for US 45's unless otherwise stated)

Disc 1 (77:22 minutes):
1 and 2 are "Star Generation" b/w "Women Are Something Else" - released August 1979 on Polydor PD-2005 [A-side was also issued as a Promo 7" on Polydor PRO 100]
3 is "The Original Disco Man - Short Version" - US Promo-Only 7" DJ-single version (no catalogue number)
4 and 5 are "The Original Disco Man" b/w "Let The Boogie Do The Rest" - released November 1979 on Polydor PD-2034
6 and 7 are "Regrets" b/w "Stone Cold Drag" - released January 1980 on Polydor PD-2054
8 and 9 are "Let The Funk Flow" b/w "Sometimes That's All There Is" - released April 1980 on Polydor PD-2078
10 and 11 are "Get Up Offa That Thing (Live)" b/w "It's Too Funky In Here (Live)" - released October 1980 on Polydor PD-2129
12 and 13 are "Rapp Payback (Where Iz Moses)" b/w "Rapp Payback (Where Iz Moses) (Pt. II)" - released November 1980 on T.K. Records TKX-1039.
[Note: also issued as a 12" single on T.K. Records TK D452 with a playing time of 7:02 minutes - see Disc 2]
14 and 15 are "Stay With Me" b/w "Smokin' & Drinkin'" - released March 1981 on T.K. Records TK 1042
[Note: the A-side was also issued on a 12" single on T.K. Records TK D455 - but is NOT an extended version]
16 and 17 are "Give That Bass Player Some Part I" b/w "Give That Bass Player Some Part II" - April 1981 on Polydor PD-2167
18 and 19 are "I Go Crazy" b/w "World Cycle Inc." - released IN THE UK (No US release) in July 1981 on Polydor POSP 290

Disc 2 (68:18 minutes):
1 is "Get Up Offa That Thing/Release The Pressure (12-Inch Version)" - released June 1976 as a 1-Sided PROMO 12" single on Polydor PRO 010
[Note: shortened 7" mix is on Volume 10]
2 is "If You Don't Give A Doggone About It (12-inch Version)" - released January 1978 as a PROMO 12" single on Polydor PRO 038 [credited as James Brown and the J.B.'s]
3 and 4 are "Eyesight (12-inch Version)" b/w "The Spank (12-inch Version)" - released July 1978 as a PROMO 12" single on Polydor PRO 040
[Note: 7" single mixes are on Volume 10]
5 is "For Goodness Sakes, Look At Those Cakes (12-inch Version)" - released October 1978 as a PROMO 12" single on Polydor PRO 059
6 is "It's Too Funky In Here (12-inch Version)" - released May 1979 as a PROMO 12" single on Polydor PRO 086
7 is "Star Generation (12-inch Version)" - released August 1979 as a PROMO 12" single on Polydor PRO 100
[Note: regarding 5, 6 and 7 - each of the 12" singles are essential the album versions - the shortened 7" single mixes are on Volume 10]
8. "Rapp Payback (Where Iz Moses) (12-inch Version)" - released November 1980 on T.K. Records TK D452
[Note: at 7:02 minutes, the A-side is longer than the single mix but is an edit of the full 14-minute album version on "Soul Syndrome".
The B-side of this 12" is the 7" single version of "Pt. II" - Track 13 on Disc 1]
9. "Give That Bass Player Some (12-inch Version)" - released May 1981 as a PROMO 12" single on Polydor PRO 157
[Note: at 8:38 minutes, it's exclusive and two minutes longer than the 1981 album version on "Nonstop"]

The gorgeous 28-booklet is the usual superlative liner notes by former manager and keeper-of-the-flame ALAN LEEDS with expert remastering of the 1st generation tapes by SETH FOSTER. But as other reviewers have pointed out - Disc 1 contains some terrible dogs - especially the Brad Shapiro produced stuff like "Star Generation". It's not until you get to Track 5 - the superb B-side "Let The Boogie Do The Rest" do things pick up and restore the faith. The T.K. Records "Rapp Workout" is a return-to-form, but only just - and as bristling as the 'live' versions of "Get Up Offa That Thing" and "It's Too Funky In Here" are - the studio versions trounce them. The guitar work of Troy Seals on "Let The Funk Flow" and the slightly rock-funk of "Sometimes That's All There Is" is a highlight too. The UK-only uncharacteristic instrumental B-side "World Cycle Inc." sounds like Synth Prog meets Funk ala Bob James or Deodato - it's a bit of an eye-opener - and a great inclusion.

But as I've already said Disc 2 is a different beast - absolute funky belters in blisteringly good sound quality. I've played this in the shop and the customer reaction is instant - tapping of feet and wiggling of butts as they browse the old-skool Soul racks. The irrestible sexiness of "The Spank" is fantastic stuff and the 6:35 minutes of "It's Too Funky In Here" is as brill as Seventies Funk gets. I swear if scientists examine James Brown's DNA - there'll be a gene sat on top of all the others marked FUNKYMAN NO.1 - and they'll further find that no other creature in the entire Universe (human or otherwise) has it. What a wow he was!

To sum up - I liked about half of Disc 1 but Disc 2 is chock full of totally killer funk - and for me puts this release into another realm of brilliance.

Take a punt on the twelve-inches of Volume Eleven - I think you'll be glad you did - y'all.

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