Thursday, 11 June 2015

"The Singles Volume 10: 1975-1979' by JAMES BROWN (2011 Hip-O Select 2CD Set - Seth Foster Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry

“…Get Up Offa That Thing…And Dance ‘Til You Feel Better…”

I've been diligently collecting this series of 2CD sets since they started in 2006, and this 10th installment is the fifth twofer to cover his extraordinary Seventies output (Volumes 6, 7, 8 and 9 are the others and feature 1970 to 1975).

Volume 9 had a feeling of JB winding down in terms of quality – treading water a lot of the time, and despite Volume 10 feeling somewhat the same, there is still greatness to be heard on this latest edition. 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 11 February 2011 on Hip-O’s own website in the USA (British released Monday 28 March 2011) - "The Singles Volume 10: 1975-1979" by JAMES BROWN on Hip-O Select/Polydor B0015279-02 (Barcode 602527622408) is a 2CD set of Remasters and breaks down as follows…(all catalogue numbers are US 7” singles unless otherwise noted):

Disc 1 (77:23 minutes):
1. Superbad, Superslick Part I
2. Superbad, Superslick Part II
Tracks 1 and 2 are Polydor PD 14295, released September 1975 (for 2, see also Track 5)
3. Dooley’s Junkyard Dogs      
4. Dooley’s Junkyard Dogs - Short Version
Tracks 3 and 4 first appeared as a Promo 7” single in November 1975 on Polydor PRO-005, then was issued as a Stock Copy in January 1976 on Polydor PD 14303
5. Hot (I Need To Be Loved, Loved, Loved, Loved)
Tracks 5 (and 2 above) are the A&B sides of Polydor PD 14301, released December 1975
6. (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons
7. Goodnight My Love
Tracks 6 and 7 are Polydor PD 14304, released March 1976
8. Everybody Wanna Get Funky One More Time – Part 1
9. Everybody Wanna Get Funky One More Time – Part 2
Tracks 8 and 9 are People PE 664, released May 196 [credited to THE J.B.’S with JAMES BROWN]
10. Get Up Offa That Thing
11. Release The Pressure
Tracks 10 and 11 are Polydor PD 14326, released June 1976
12. I Refuse To Lose        
13. Home Again
Tracks 12 and 13 are Polydor PD 14354, released August 1976
14. Bodyheat (Part 1)
15. Bodyheat (Part 2)
Tracks 14 and 15 are Polydor PD 14360, released December 1976
16. Kiss In 77
17. Woman
Tracks 16 and 17 are Polydor PD 14388, released April 1977

Disc 2 (75:36 minutes):
1. Give Me Some Skin
2. People Wake Up And Live
Tracks 1 and 2 are Polydor PD 14409, released July 1977 [credited to JAMES BROWN AND THE J.B.’S]
3. Summertime
4. Take Me Higher And Groove Me
Tracks 3 and 4 are Polydor PD 14433, released November 1977 [A-side credited to MARTHA and JAMES (Duet Vocal With Martha High)]
5. If You Don’t Give A Dogone About It
6. People Who Criticize
Tracks 5 and 6 are Polydor PD 14438, released January 1978 [credited to JAMES BROWN and The New J.B.’s]
7. Love Me Tender
8. Have A Happy Day
Tracks 7 and 8 are Polydor PD 14460, released March 1978 [credited to JAMES BROWN and The New J.B.’s] (Track 7 was used again — as a B-side to track 11)
9. Eyesight
10. I Never, Never, Never Will Forget
Tracks 9 and 10 are Polydor PD 14465, released April 1978
11. The Spank
Track 11 (and Track 7) are Polydor PD 14487, released July 1878
12. Nature (Part I)
13. Nature (Part II)
Tracks 12 and 13 are Polydor PD 14512, released September 1978
14. For Goodness Sakes, Look At Those Cakes (Part 1)
15. For Goodness Sakes, Look At Those Cakes (Part 2)
Tracks 14 and 15 are Polydor PD 14522, released October 1978
16. Someone To Talk To (Part I)
17. Someone To Talk To (Part II)
Tracks 16 and 17 are Polydor PD 14540, released December 1978
18. It’s Too Funky In Here
19. Are We Really Dancing
Tracks 18 and 19 are Polydor PD 14557, released May 1979

Like Volumes 8 and 9 (see separate reviews), 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 a concert at the Miami Baseball Stadium with a string of guests including B.B. King - it's exceptionally well done...

And again (as in previous issues) SETH FOSTER has expertly handled the first-generation master tapes for the single mixes - he's done a truly superlative job — warm, clear and fabulously alive. There is hiss on some cuts like "Summertime" - 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 doesn’t give numbers, but presumably it's a worldwide limited edition of 5000 copies like its predecessor).

Disc 1 opens strongly with 2 great driving-funky singles — “Superbad, Superslick” and “Dooley’s Junkyard Dogs” (I think the shortened B-side is better than the longer An on Dooley’s). The sample of David Bowie’s “Fame” provides the backbeat for “Hot [I Need To Be Loved, Loved, Loved)” where James steals back a little of what everyone stole from him. Unfortunately there follows a cringingly bad disco version of the Nat King Cole 1946 standard “[I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons” with an equally cruddy version of the Jesse Belvin 1956 hit “Goodnight My Love” on the flip. Things improve on “Everybody Wanna Get Funky…” even if the false crowd start irritates a bit – it’s good – but what comes next is another league altogether. “Get Up Offa That Thing…And Dance ‘Til You Feel Better…” was shouted by JB at a lack-lustre audience and he had a hit in his brain. Done with a new band and fresh enthusiasm, they got it down in one take – and it funks like a mother. It’s followed by another double-winner – the fast and funky jam “I Refuse To Lose” and its bluesy B-side “Home Again” (great stuff and both sounding spectacularly clear). “Bodyheat” is superb funk too - fully deserving its Number 13 position on the USA R&B charts. “Kiss In 77” is JB in Teddy Pendergrass loverman territory and it only half works, but its B-side “Woman” is far better – stylistically harking back to his 1966 King Records classic “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World”.

Disc 2 has its dogs as well – his terrible cover of Presley’s “Love Me Tender” no matter how heartfelt it was smacks of opportunism almost a full year after Elvis’ death, while the cloying “Someone To Talk” is sappy pap. His duet with Martha High on the Gershwin cover of “Summertime” is actually quite good, but when we get to tracks like “Eyesight” and “Nature”, Brown just sounds out of time – and worse – he even sounds naff. It ends on a good note though – “It’s Too Funky In Here”.

To sum up – Volume 10 is similar to Volume 9 – the good and great vying with precisely the opposite (Volumes 7 and 8 are much better). 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.

By the end of the Seventies, James Brown wasn’t troubling the national charts too much, but there’s enough on here to convince that JB truly was a genius. When all others had fallen by the wayside, he was still capable of producing the goods…

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