In the first few years after James Brown left Polydor Records at the start of the '80s, the label did little with his catalog, issuing a perfunctory best-of and licensing early material to Solid Smoke. But in 1984, Polydor began looking for ways to repackage and reissue its treasure trove of material (which included not only Brown's '70s work for them, but also his Federal/King sides of the '50s and '60s). The initial result was two albums, Ain't That a Groove and Doing It to Death, both produced by British Brown expert Cliff White (who had compiled the well-regarded U.K. compilations Solid Gold and Roots of a Revolution). Ain't That a Groove presented Brown's hits from the second half of the '60s that hadn't turned up on The Best of James Brown, including such classics as "Don't Be a Drop Out," "I Can't Stand Myself (When You Touch Me)," "Licking Stick -- Licking Stick," "Give It up or Turnit a Loose," and "I Don't Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing (Open the Door, I'll Get It Myself)." These were the defining tracks in Brown's '60s funk revolution, irresistible dance songs that, as often as not, also contained potent social messages. The music's immediacy made it hard to think of in the retrospective sense the album implied, but with much of Brown's catalog out of print, it was good to hear these songs again.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann