Live At The Apollo Volume IV (2xLP)

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For the ten years leading up to 1972, the James Brown Revue was an outright superfunk freight train, speeding around the world and crushing all competition. From 1963 to 1971, James Brown had released not one but three albums recorded live at Harlems famed Apollo Theater. The first volume of the series is still rightfully revered today as one of the greatest live albums of all time. But Volumes II (1968) and III (1971 – aka Revolution Of The Mind) were no slackers either, showing James and his incredible band (with talent including Pee Wee Ellis, Fred Wesley, John Jabo Starks, Clyde Stubblefield, Maceo Parker, Lyn Collins, Bobby Byrd and many more) at the peak of their respective powers each time, playing a litany of JB hits.

Because of this, it will always be a mystery as to why Volume IV, which was recorded at the Apollo on September 14, 1972, was shelved. This is in no small part because the performers and songs heard here are some of the Godfather of Souls (and the JBs) strongest. But shelved it was, full of fire but languishing for decades in the Polydor vaults.

One look at the tracklist will make you salivate: from instrumental JBs classics like Pass the Peas, Gimme Some More and Hot Pants Road to James own 1972 smash vocal There It Is, the assembled group of musical geniuses – including trombonist and bandleader Fred Wesley; saxophonist St. Clair Pinckney; guitarists Hearlon Cheese Martin and Jimmy Chank Nolan; bassist Fred Thomas; and Brown himself on organ – smash through James New New Super Heavy Funk with ridiculous power, control and panache. Included here, beyond the music, are in-between song introductions and banter, which bring you right into the front row.

This live album stands apart because it was conceptualized to showcase James Browns favorite players – The JBs – and vocalists, Bobby Byrd and Lyn Collins, who had their own R & B smashes on the People label. And these supreme talents get plenty of space to shine here: Collins Do Your Thing and Think (About It) and Byrds Keep On Doin (What Youre Doin), alongside I Know You Got Soul simply levitate the bandstand.


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