52 Weeks of Music

James Brown – Live at the Apollo (1963)

Posted in Uncategorized by Mark on February 11, 2009

The godfather of soul, the hardest working man in show business, the most sampled artist of all time – all big claims, but arguably all true.  Brown was personally at the forefront of numerous musical styles over a period of decades including soul, rhythm and blues and funk. His rhythms and vocal style also had an enormous influence on hip hop and breaks.


This weeks album, Live at the Apollo, was recorded at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem in 1963. Brown funded the recording himself after his label refused because they felt that a live album with no new tracks would never succeed commercially.

Along with Abbey Road, the Apollo must be one of the most legendary venues in popular music. It has been the launching pad for artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, The Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, and Lauryn Hill.

And of course Mr Please, Please himself.

The album was a watershed for Brown and for Soul music in general. It hit #2 on Billboard Pop Album Charts, stores couldn’t keep up with demand and radio DJs would play it in it’s entirety – a level of popular success unheard of for the genre, for a live recording and for James Brown.

The album itself jumps between hard driving songs like “Think” and “Night Train” and soulful ballads like “Lost Someone” and “Try Me”, but never really lets up in energy and intensity.

The Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, on which it appears at #24, claims that it “may be the greatest live album ever recorded”. While that might overstating it slightly it is certainly a wonderful portrait of one of the best live acts in amazing form.

Allmusic Review

An astonishing record of James and the Flames tearing the roof off the sucker at the mecca of R&B theatres, New York’s Apollo … this should be one of the very first records you ever own.
allmusic ★★★★★

Sample: http://blip.fm/profile/markstanton/blip/7097540

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