The Second Disc

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There It Is: UMe Celebrates 50 Years of James Brown at The Apollo with New Compilation

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JB Apollo 50“So now, ladies and gentlemen, it is Star Time. Are you ready for Star Time?”

With those words by emcee Fats Gondor on the stage of The Apollo Theater in New York City on October 24, 1962, history was made. James Brown was set to take the stage at the famed Harlem theater – but what could have been just another show on Brown’s breakneck touring schedule became a flashpoint for not only Brown’s career but for the entire pop, rock and soul canon, thanks to Brown’s insistence on recording and, the following May, releasing the show (at his own expense!).

Now, 50 years after the release of the acclaimed Live At The Apollo LP, UMe is releasing a new compilation, Best of Live at The Apollo: 50th Anniversary.

Live performance was, of course, an accepted fact of the genre; millions would gasp at Elvis Presley’s hip-swiveling dance moves on network variety shows, and Beatlemania spread to America the second the Fab Four graced the stage on The Ed Sullivan Show. But releasing a live album? It hadn’t really been done before.

But even Mr. Dynamite himself couldn’t be accurately represented through his deeply funky sides on wax. And not only did Live At The Apollo seal the deal for plenty of cratediggers that Brown was truly the hardest working man in show business, it established a symbiotic bond between performer and venue – one of the first, and perhaps most notable, of its kind in pop history.

James Brown released three live albums recorded at The Apollo during his prime years as a recording artist: the 1963 original and 1968’s Live At The Apollo Volume II (both released on King Records) and 1971’s Revolution of the Mind: Recorded Live At The Apollo Vol. III, released by Polydor Records. Best of Live At The Apollo will feature the highlights of those three original Apollo LPs, and two tracks from another, ultimately shelved fourth LP, recorded in September 1972. (That album, Get Down At The Apollo with The J.B.’s: Live At The Apollo Vol. IV, was to feature not only Brown’s new band, created in 1970, but also The Female Preacher herself, Lyn Collins.) 

Both of those new tracks  – the instrumental “Hot Pants Road” and “There It Is” – have been remixed just for this disc; this live take of “There It Is” previously appeared on the 1988 compilation Motherlode, and the original LP mix of the track appeared on a Record Store Day single last year.

Best of Live At The Apollo: 50th Anniversary hits stores on June 25. Hit the jump to place your order and check out the track list!

Best of Live at The Apollo: 50th Anniversary (Polydor/UMe B0017444-02, 2013)

  1. Introduction to James Brown
  2. I’ll Go Crazy
  3. Try Me
  4. Night Train
  5. There Was a Time
  6. Cold Sweat
  7. Please, Please, Please
  8. Sex Machine
  9. Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved
  10. Soul Power
  11. Hot Pants Road
  12. There It Is

Tracks 1-4 recorded live at The Apollo, New York City – 10/24/1962. Released on Live At The Apollo (King 826, 1963)
Tracks 5-7 recorded live at The Apollo, New York City – 6/24-6/25/1967. Released on Live At The Apollo Volume II (King 1022, 1967)
Tracks 8-10 recorded live at The Apollo, New York City – 7/24-7/26/1971. Released on Revolution of the Mind: Recorded Live At The Apollo Vol. III (Polydor PD 3003, 1971)
Tracks 11-12 recorded live at The Apollo, New York City – possibly 9/13-9/14/1972. Track 11 previously unreleased. Alternate mix Track 12 released on Motherlode (Polydor 422 837 126-1, 1988)

Written by Mike Duquette

May 13, 2013 at 12:35

5 Responses

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  1. Nice, I guess, if you want one live album of Brown in his prime, but the first two Apollo albums are close to essentials, with the third close behind. To cherry-pick from these classics, and add a couple of negligible later tracks, seems to show a lack of respect for the original albums. So the only point of interest to the serious James Brown fan is if there is a serious sonic upgrade, and there’s no mention of that here.


    May 13, 2013 at 14:09

    • Ron, we can confirm that everything on here has been newly remastered.

      My gut feeling is that we’ll see all of Apollo Vol. IV in the future. I don’t know that it’ll be as part of a box set, as alluded to on the sleeve of the RSD single. But…I got a feeling. Some might even say “the” feeling. 😀

      Mike Duquette

      May 13, 2013 at 14:27

      • lol That’s good news about the remastering. And a box set of all the Apollo recordings would be a welcome addition. I guess surviving outtakes from the first two albums would be a lot to ask for after all these years.


        May 13, 2013 at 14:35

  2. In re to remastering: yes. Especially the tracks from Vol. II, whose album master hasn’t been properly digitally transferred and the album has not been remastered in about 25 years. In re to outtakes from the first two albums, the first album, no, likely not, but original 4-track tapes for Apollo Vol. II were thoroughly combed over and the album was given the deluxe treatment a few years ago:


    May 13, 2013 at 16:46

  3. Polydor finally released Vol 4 of JB’s Live At the Apollo (also, Lyn Collin’s live performance of “Do Your Thing” from “Funky People, Vol. 2” is from this show)

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