ARTIST: James Brown
TITLE: James Brown: The Singles Vol. 4: 1966-1967
YEAR RELEASED: Compilation
CHART ACTION: #None
SINGLES: Charting: Ain’t That a Groove (#42, #6 R&B), It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World (#8, #1 R&B), Money Won’t Change You (#53, #16 R&B), Don’t Be a Dropout (#50, #4 R&B), Bring It Up (#29, #7 R&B), Kansas City (#55, #21 R&B), Think (#100 ), Let Yourself Go (#46, #5 R&B), Cold Sweat (#7, #1 R&B), Get It Together (#40, #11 R&B)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: He covers The Christmas Song, I Loves You Porgy, and Mona Lisa
LINEUP: James Brown, the Fabulous Flames, and his band.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A productive period for Brown, though there’s still a lot of fluff with some instrumental singles released from his ill-fated dalliance with Smash Records.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: James Brown, ahead of his time. “Bring It Up” has a parenthesis “Hipster’s Avenue” on occasion. (Hipster). He encouraged kids to stay in school. “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” is actually a song praising women. There’s proto-funk workouts in “Money Won’t Change You” and “Get It Together”, all culminating in “Cold Sweat”, which is a signature song, and kicked Brown off into the stratosphere in pop culture.
You can hear the evolution of tracks here. “Let Yourself Go” is a bridge leading toward “Cold Sweat”. His band callouts on several long tracks lead to later tracks where he just vamps and calls out for solos. A cut like “Stone Fox” is a guitar workout that was rare in soul circles.
The flaws here are some of the organ-based instrumentals left over from Smash Records, and his attempts (well meaning but flawed) at singing standards. The instrumentals don’t add much to his legacy, and he’s not a traditional singer. Still, even with those, this is primo stuff.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: A couple of cuts are credited to the James Brown Dancers. OK, then.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.
GRADE: A-: Sprawling, but exciting and the high points are definite touchstones in music history.