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75 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2004
October 24, 1962 is a date that will live in music infamy. For it was then at the midnight show at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater when James Brown recorded the album that fully introduced soul music to America and gave documented proof that he was indeed the greatest showman alive.
The story behind it is well known. Brown had a few R&B hits dating back to 1956, including the 1959 chart topper "Try Me", but was largely unheard of outside young black America and even with that success his singles career was maddeningly inconsistant in terms of sales and even musical direction. But in person it was a different story, for in front of an audience Brown tore it up night after night on the chitlin' circuit, an act no rival wanted to try and follow. It is safe to assume that anyone who saw his show live was instantly a fan for life.
Therefore what he wanted was to record a concert, much like Ray Charles had done at Newport a few years before, that would show people who hadn't yet bought a ticket just what they'd been missing. King Records chief Syd Nathan rejected it flatly, saying - and not without some merit - that albums did not sell well to the generally lower economic strata of R&B fans, and without even a single to garner from it the venture would be foolhardy at best. Naturally Brown ignored this dictive and paid for the recording himself, and thus with his own ego, reputation and perhaps career on the line gave the single greatest performance ever caught on tape. Nathan had no choice but to put it out.
Sales built slowly, spurred on by enormous word of mouth publicity and frequent airings of the entire album on the tiny R&B outposts at the far ends of the AM dial, until it became the "must have" LP of 1963. Consider this: at the time albums were strictly the realm of pop singers. For the year in question only two other rock LP's (both by the Beach Boys) even entered the Top Ten on the album charts, and before that only Elvis Presley among rockers had been able to sell LP's in sufficient quantities to make releasing them worthwhile. For Brown, who was still relatively unknown, singing in a style few Americans had ever heard of or thought possible, to crack that chart, spending a remarkable 66 weeks there and reaching #2 at one point, becoming the 32nd highest selling album of any kind that year, was absolutely inconceivable. To put it bluntly, THIS is what put James Brown on the map and let the world know that soul music, introduced in the early-50's by the "5" Royales, Dominoes and others, honed by Ray Charles in the mid-50's and polished for the masses by Sam Cooke in the late-50's, had a bold new leader. James Brown forever after was Soul Brother Number One.
If you've never heard it you're surely not ready for what awaits you, but that doesn't mean you should avoid it, just don't expect anything specific, for you'll have no reference points to compare it to because it truly is like nothing you've heard before. Frenetic to the point of lunacy, with an almost religious type fervor in the way he puts over the songs in shortened medley-esque fashion, never pausing for a breath, the tight band turning on the dime, high point after high point reached and then broken once again, all culminating in the extended gospel-like reading of the epic ballad "Lost Someone". It is during that performance where he fully hypnotizes the audience and the listener with a repeated desperate plea, as all the suffering, passion and ecstasy of soul music is delivered with a raw, almost naked, grab for their approval. His quavering voice fading with despair into the shadows, as the tension in the crowd rises to unbearable levels, he drains every ounce of emotion he can muster from himself, the song and the masses before suddenly offering release by exploding into "Please, Please, Please" which detonates the crowd like a nuclear bomb before carrying us all home with the chugging farewell, "Night Train". It is truly a one of a kind experience, yet magically one that can be repeated over and over again.
It will almost surely take you many listens to comprehend what is happening. But give it time. Listen to it in the dark, going to bed night after night, imagining yourself in the crowd that cold Wednesday in '62, seeing the future of R&B music unfolding before your eyes. Before long you too will be rhythmically intoning along to Fats Gonder's famed opening, "And now ladies and gentlemen, it's star time... Are you ready for Star Time?!!"
Are you?
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2004
It is a given that this JB performance is a must-have, but the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab's 1993 gold disc ([...]) has much better sound quality even though it has sound on the left and right but none in the middle. This mainstream release tried to shift the left and right into the middle, but in doing so the sound became irritating and JB's voice lost depth. The bonus tracks sound bad and add nothing. Get the MFSL version if you can find it.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2006
Whenever I pass by the Apollo,my mind goes back and recalls this recording and as the liner notes make clear this CD released in 1963 is a tidal wave of raw emotion that sold millions without a hit single, JB's 1st hit album and was voted internationally by critics as one of the Top 20 albums of all time..with reason.

This CD is the meat and potatoes of JB, a representation of his live show that brought him into the spotlight on this cold night with a hot band.

All his accolades, The Hardest Working Man In Show Business, Godfather Of Soul,Soul Brother # 1 are all here on this 30 minute live CD.

The CD itself was remastered in 1990, prepared from the original,undubbed stereo master tape.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2000
They say if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. The Apollo was notorious for its tough audience, but in the case of James Brown, it was more like a command performance. James came north with a whole mess of down-home soul and he laid it all out, holding back nothing. This is still a very young James, even though he'd been recording for over a decade. It is this type of performance that froze a great front man like Mick Jagger (offstage during the taping of the T.A.M.I. show). The live audience shrieked with rapture throughout! This is the greatest live album ever. And it almost wasn't: Syd Nathan at King Records would not reach in his pocket to produce the live album. So James Brown did it himself. This album reached #2 on the U.S. pop chart... something that just was not done by a Black artist in those days. Black radio stations of the day would play the album like a two-sided single, playing all of side one, taking a commercial break, and coming right back with all of side two. How could you break up something so great? This is where James Brown was coming from, and it fostered a self-determination in Brown that led to him signing with Smash records and, eventually, winning artistic freedom and control from King Records.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 15, 2000
It's hard remembering the impact of this classic James Brown live set nearly 40 years later. It was among the first soul music albums, live or studio, designed to be enjoyed start to finish in one listen (and was often played that way on early 60s radio, unheard of then). It went to #2 on the pop charts where traditional crooners like Andy Williams and Barbra Streisand normally nested.
What's striking is that JB and the Flames did little more here than at the 299 other shows they did nearly every year at his 60s peak. James' early R&B hits (heard on "Roots of A Revolution") were pleasant, if traditional, in the studio. But in front of an ecstatic Apollo Theatre crowd on a cold autumn night, they take on a fury and joy only JB brought to stage. Listen to the crowd interaction on the dynamic "Lost Someone," or the shreiks as JB wraps a hits medley around his signature song "Please, Please, Please," or the race to the finish of the thrilling "Night Train." Understanding James Brown's impact on pop music and culture starts here, with this recording of an event not so much a concert as a culmination and coronation. As Dave Marsh once put it, "If you could see James Brown dancing, it would be perfect."
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35 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2005
Let me just start out by saying this isn't the greatest live album. It is influential, and proved that people would pay money to own a live recording, which is the main reason why it's often considored the best. However, there are many subsequent live recordings that are much better than this. However, it's still pretty damn good, and is a fun listen that warrents repeated plays. James Brown's stage show was legendary for his gyrations and refusal to stand still, and you can picture what a good night was like for him with the help of this. It is certainly better than any of his studio albums. The songs themselves are performed greatly, both due to Brown's incredible soul voice and the magnificent back-up band themselves. Worth a purchase, due to it's importance in American popular music.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2003
This CD is just okay. The early JB ballads are the thing here. Gives you a good idea of a good chitlin' circuit performance as typically done for Black audiecnes in those days with approrpiate audience response. The standouts here include the extended version of "Lost Someone" which leads into "Please Please Please." Even without being able to see the infamous cape routine, it's quite entertaining. But overall, Vol. 2 is better since that CD plays up the more uptempo stuff that put JB on the map.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 16, 2002
JB wore out many a needle on my parents' turntable. And one can say that this particular recording holds a place in my memory as my first real introduction to SOUL.

Perhaps one of the best performances ever done at the historic Apollo, Brown is probably at his grittiest, his most dynamic, and his most emotional.
From the opening cheers of anticipation to the closing "hurrahs" of thunderous approval, the album is a triumph of one of the giants of that, and any era.
`Long live the "Godfather of Soul".
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
If you love R&B, soul, funk, and/or rock you simply must have this album. Believe all the superlatives, this is one of the best live recordings of them all. Superbly recorded (1962!), it captures the audience's excitement very well. Raw, soulful, bold, with one hit right after the other, he works the material like the master he is. Also recommended: The box set "Foundations of Funk: 1964-1969," also sold by Amazon.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2003
From the opening introduction, and throughout this CD, you've returned to 1962 with "The King Of Soul", Mister Dynamite!"
James Brown And The Famous Flames 100% absolute MUST have for all music 'afficianados!'
'Don't 'got-it', Suggestion: GET one, or better get a few an pass on the word, in 1962 JB had NO equal, and continued to out-perform most artists. Even The Rolling Stones waited, and watched JB perform on TAMI show 1964. Mick Jagger was a bit concerned about the 'then' Unheard-of Rolling Stones 'following' the absolute Power house JB performance it's WILD! TAMI is/was available on VHS. Try to locate the VHS, it's an absolute MUST!
Tami Show may be owned by Dave Clark productions, search the Internet!
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